The influence of mucins on bacterial communities
Author(s)Co, Julia Yin-Ting
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Biology.
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Mucus is the hydrogel layer that coats all wet epithelia in the body. By supporting commensal microbes and preventing pathogenic invasion, mucus maintains host-microbe homeostasis. Mucin polymers, the primary gel-forming component of mucus, are an important mediator of mucus-microbe interactions. In this thesis, I demonstrate that mucins impact bacterial communities in their physical structure as well as microbe-microbe and microbe-host dynamics. In Chapter 2, 1 study the ability of mucin surface coatings to suppress bacterial surface attachment, the first step in biofilm formation, for Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. Mucin-bound glycans were identified as a critical structural component of mucin coatings that are necessary for bacterial repulsion. In Chapter 3, 1 investigate how mucins impact established Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms. The data reveal that mucins cause disassembly and structural rearrangement in P. aeruginosa biofilms in a mucin concentration and flow rate dependent manner. In Appendix A, I show evidence for the involvement of the bacterial flagella in mucinmediated biofilm disruption. Deletion of flagellar capfliD or flagellar stators motABCD results in biofilms that are resistant to mucin-mediated dissociation. In Appendix B, I examine how mucins affect dual-species bacterial communities. I show that mucins promote S. aureus survival during co-culture with P. aeruginosa and also suppress the anti-staphylococcal effects of P. aeruginosa pyocyanin. In Appendix C, I explore the impacts of mucins on P. aeruginosa quorum sensing, an important pathogenic determinant in P. aeruginosa infections. I found that mucins suppress the expression of P. aeruginosa Las and Rhl quorum sensing genes as well as downstream virulence factors. In Appendix D, I assess how mucins modulate P. aeruginosa-epithelium interactions. The data show that mucins hinder the ability of P. aeruginosa to attach to epithelial cells in vitro. Additionally, mucins suppressed P. aeruginosa-associatede pithelial cytotoxicity in a mucin concentration dependent manner. Together, this thesis demonstrates that mucins modulate microbial communities in their behavior and interactions. Understanding how mucus and mucins impact microbes provides insight to host-microbe relationships, as well as for the development of novel bacteria-regulating strategies.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Biology, 2015.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology