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Journal of Bacteriology


Geisel School of Medicine


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a ubiquitous opportunistic pathogen with multiple niches in the human body, including the lung. P. aeruginosa infections are particularly damaging or fatal for patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis (CF). To establish an infection, P. aeruginosa relies on a suite of virulence factors, including lipopolysaccharide, phospholipases, exoproteases, phenazines, outer membrane vesicles, type III secreted effectors, flagella, and pili. These factors not only damage the epithelial cell lining but also induce changes in cell physiology and function such as cell shape, membrane permeability, and protein synthesis. While such virulence factors are important in initial infection, many become dysregulated or nonfunctional during the course of chronic infection. Recent work on the virulence factors alkaline protease (AprA) and CF transmembrane conductance regulator inhibitory factor (Cif) show that P. aeruginosa also perturbs epithelial ion transport and osmosis, which may be important for the long-term survival of this microbe in the lung. Here we discuss the literature regarding host physiology-altering virulence factors with a focus on Cif and AprA and their potential roles in chronic infection and immune evasion.