Loss of O-Linked Protein Glycosylation in Burkholderia cenocepacia Impairs Biofilm Formation and Siderophore Activity and Alters Transcriptional Regulators

Cameron C. Oppy, Leila Jebeli, Miku Kuba, Clare V. Oates, Richard Strugnell, Laura E. Edgington-Mitchell, Miguel A. Valvano, Elizabeth L. Hartland, Hayley J. Newton, Nichollas E. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


O-linked protein glycosylation is a conserved feature of the Burkholderia genus. The addition of the trisaccharide β-Gal-(1,3)-α-GalNAc-(1,3)-β-GalNAc to membrane exported proteins in Burkholderia cenocepacia is required for bacterial fitness and resistance to environmental stress. However, the underlying causes of the defects observed in the absence of glycosylation are unclear. Using proteomics, luciferase reporter assays, and DNA cross-linking, we demonstrate the loss of glycosylation leads to changes in transcriptional regulation of multiple proteins, including the repression of the master quorum CepR/I. These proteomic and transcriptional alterations lead to the abolition of biofilm formation and defects in siderophore activity. Surprisingly, the abundance of most of the known glycosylated proteins did not significantly change in the glycosylation-defective mutants, except for BCAL1086 and BCAL2974, which were found in reduced amounts, suggesting they could be degraded. However, the loss of these two proteins was not responsible for driving the proteomic alterations, biofilm formation, or siderophore activity. Together, our results show that loss of glycosylation in B. cenocepacia results in a global cell reprogramming via alteration of the transcriptional regulatory systems, which cannot be explained by the abundance changes in known B. cenocepacia glycoproteins.IMPORTANCE Protein glycosylation is increasingly recognized as a common posttranslational protein modification in bacterial species. Despite this commonality, our understanding of the role of most glycosylation systems in bacterial physiology and pathogenesis is incomplete. In this work, we investigated the effect of the disruption of O-linked glycosylation in the opportunistic pathogen Burkholderia cenocepacia using a combination of proteomic, molecular, and phenotypic assays. We find that in contrast to recent findings on the N-linked glycosylation systems of Campylobacter jejuni, O-linked glycosylation does not appear to play a role in proteome stabilization of most glycoproteins. Our results reveal that loss of glycosylation in B. cenocepacia strains leads to global proteome and transcriptional changes, including the repression of the quorum-sensing regulator cepR (BCAM1868) gene. These alterations lead to dramatic phenotypic changes in glycosylation-null strains, which are paralleled by both global proteomic and transcriptional alterations, which do not appear to directly result from the loss of glycosylation per se. This research unravels the pleiotropic effects of O-linked glycosylation in B. cenocepacia, demonstrating that its loss does not simply affect the stability of the glycoproteome, but also interferes with transcription and the broader proteome.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00660-19
Number of pages22
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2019


  • Burkholderia cenocepacia
  • CepR
  • DNA binding
  • glycoproteins
  • glycosylation
  • pathogenesis
  • posttranslational modifications
  • protein modification
  • proteomics

Cite this