Modifications of the lipid A moiety of lipopolysaccharide influence the physicochemical properties of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Some bacteria produce lipid A with a single hydroxylated secondary acyl chain. This hydroxylation is catalyzed by the dioxygenase LpxO, and is important for resistance to cationic antimicrobial peptides (e.g., polymyxins), survival in human blood, and pathogenicity in animal models. The lipid A of the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be hydroxylated in both secondary acyl chains, but the genetic basis and physiological role of these hydroxylations are still unknown. Through the generation of single and double deletion mutants in the lpxO1 and lpxO2 homologs of P. aeruginosa PAO1 and lipid A analysis by mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that both LpxO1 and LpxO2 are responsible for lipid A hydroxylation, likely acting on different secondary acyl chains. Lipid A hydroxylation does not appear to affect in vitro growth, cell wall stability, and resistance to human blood or antibiotics in P. aeruginosa. In contrast, it is required for infectivity in the Galleria mellonella infection model, without relevantly affecting in vivo persistence. Overall, these findings suggest a role for lipid A hydroxylation in P. aeruginosa virulence that could not be directly related to outer membrane integrity.
Lo Sciuto, A., Cervoni, M., Stefanelli, R., Spinnato, M.C., Di Giamberardino, A., Mancone, C., et al. (2019). Genetic basis and physiological effects of lipid a hydroxylation in pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. PATHOGENS, 8(4), 291 [10.3390/pathogens8040291].