Acinetobacter baumannii fatty acid desaturases facilitate survival in distinct environments

Felise G. Adams, Alaska Pokhrel, Erin B. Brazel, Lucie Semenec, Liping Li, Claudia Trappetti, James C. Paton, Amy K. Cain, Ian T. Paulsen, Bart A. Eijkelkamp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Maintaining optimal fluidity is essential to ensure adequate membrane structure and function under different environmental conditions. We apply integrated molecular approaches to characterize two desaturases (DesA and DesB) and define their specific roles in unsaturated fatty acid (UFA) production in Acinetobacter baumannii. Using a murine model, we reveal DesA to play a minor role in colonization of the respiratory tract, whereas DesB is important during invasive disease. Furthermore, using transcriptomic and bioinformatic analyses, a global regulator involved in fatty acid homeostasis and members of its regulon are characterized. Collectively, we show that DesA and DesB are primary contributors to UFA production in A. baumannii with infection studies illustrating that these distinct desaturases aid in the bacterium's ability to survive in multiple host niches. Hence, this study provides novel insights into the fundamentals of A. baumannii lipid biology, which contributes to the versatility of this critical bacterial pathogen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2221-2228
Number of pages8
JournalACS Infectious Diseases
Issue number8
Early online date8 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • bacterial lipid homeostasis
  • infection
  • host-pathogen interactions
  • unsaturated fatty acid production
  • global regulator


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