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Abstract: The opportunistic pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii is able to persist in the environment and is often multidrug resistant (MDR), causing difficulties in the treatment of infections. Here, we show that the two-component system AdeRS, which regulates the production of the AdeABC multidrug resistance efflux pump, is required for the formation of a protective biofilm in an ex vivo porcine mucosal model, which mimics a natural infection of the human epithelium. Interestingly, deletion of adeB impacted only on the ability of strain AYE to form a biofilm on plastic and only on the virulence of strain Singapore 1 for Galleria mellonella. RNA-Seq revealed that loss of AdeRS or AdeB significantly altered the transcriptional landscape, resulting in the changed expression of many genes, notably those associated with antimicrobial resistance and virulence interactions. For example, A. baumannii lacking AdeRS displayed decreased expression of adeABCpil genes, com genes, and a pgaC-like gene, whereas loss of AdeB resulted in increased expression of pil and com genes and decreased expression of ferric acinetobactin transport system genes. These data define the scope of AdeRS-mediated regulation, show that changes in the production of AdeABC mediate important phenotypes controlled by AdeRS, and suggest that AdeABC is a viable target for antimicrobial drug and antibiofilm discovery.

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