The Regulation of Alginate Biosynthesis via Cyclic di-GMP Signaling

  • M. Fata Moradali
  • Bernd H. A. RehmEmail author


Bacterial alginates are anionic exopolysaccharides, which are produced by Pseudomonas and Azotobacter species. Bacterial cells embedded in extracellular polymeric substances such as alginates have a survival advantage as they are protected against various physical and chemical stresses as well as the immune system. In the model organism P. aeruginosa, alginate is polymerized and secreted by a multiprotein complex spanning the entire bacterial envelope. The ubiquitous second messenger cyclic di-GMP is required for activation of alginate production. In this chapter, after a brief overview on alginates, their general properties, biological functions and applications, we will discuss the importance of alginate production and its regulation via cyclic di-GMP signaling during bacterial pathogenesis, which implies biofilm formation coinciding with chronic infection. We will review the current understanding of the molecular pathways controlling the cyclic di-GMP-dependent regulation of alginate production including (1) diguanylate cyclases and phosphodiesterases, which control cellular levels of cyclic di-GMP, (2) the cyclic di-GMP receptor/effector protein Alg44 that senses cyclic di-GMP, while it interacts with other protein subunits to constitute the alginate biosynthesis/modification/secretion multiprotein complex at the bacterial envelope, (3) insights into structural elucidation of PilZ domain-containing Alg44 including mechanistic insights into cyclic di-GMP binding and activation of alginate polymerization, and (4) other regulator proteins whose functions are controlled by cyclic di-GMP levels and impact on alginate production.


Alginates Cyclic di-GMP Pseudomonas Diguanylate cyclases Phosphodiesterases PilZ domain Polymerization 



This research was supported in part by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Germany) and Massey University (New Zealand). The authors are grateful to the current and former members of the Rehm research group for their invaluable contributions providing insight into alginate biosynthesis by bacteria.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oral BiologyCollege of Dentistry, University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Centre for Cell Factories and BiopolymersGriffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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