Johnson, J. G., Clegg, S.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is an opportunistic pathogen that has been shown to adhere to human extracellular matrices using the type 3 fimbriae. Introduction of plasmids carrying genes known to alter intracellular cyclic-di-GMP pools in Vibrio parahaemolyticus revealed that these genes also altered type 3 fimbrial surface expression in K. pneumoniae. Immediately adjacent to the type 3 fimbrial gene cluster is a gene, mrkJ, that is related to a family of bacterial genes encoding phosphodiesterases. We identify here a role for MrkJ, a functional phosphodiesterase exhibiting homology to EAL domain-containing proteins, in controlling type 3 fimbria production and biofilm formation in K. pneumoniae. Deletion of mrkJ resulted in an increase in type 3 fimbria production and biofilm formation as a result of the accumulation of intracellular cyclic-di-GMP. This gene was shown to encode a functional phosphodiesterase via restoration of motility in a V. parahaemolyticus strain previously shown to accumulate cyclic-di-GMP and in vitro using phosphodiesterase activity assays. The effect of the mrkJ mutation on type 3 fimbrial expression was shown to be at the level of mrkA gene transcription by using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. These results reveal a previously unknown role for cyclic-di-GMP in type 3 fimbrial production.