Inhibition of virulence factor expression and swarming differentiation in Proteus mirabilis by p-nitrophenylglycerol

S. J. Liaw, H. C. Lai, S. W. Ho, K. T. Luh, W. B. Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

41 Scopus citations


Proteus mirabilis is a common cause of upper urinary tract infections that can involve invasion of host urothelial cells. The ability to invade urothelial cells is coupled closely to swarming, a form of multicellular behaviour in which vegetative bacteria differentiate into hyperflagellate, filamentous swarming cells capable of co-ordinated and rapid population migration. Co-ordinate expression of virulence factors including urease, protease, haemolysin and flagellin during swarm-cell differentiation in P. mirabilis has been reported. To investigate the effects of p-nitrophenylglycerol (PNPG), a potent anti-swarming agent, on the various swarming-associated traits of P. mirabilis and to elucidate the relationships among them, P. mirabilis growth rate, swarming/swimming activity, cell invasion ability and the ability to express various virulence factors were monitored in the presence or absence of PNPG. It was found that PNPG could inhibit the growth rate, swarming differentiation and swarming/swimming activities of P. mirabilis. The expression of virulence factors such as protease, urease, haemolysin and flagellin in P. mirabilis was also inhibited by PNPG. The ability of P. mirabilis to invade human urothelial cells was reduced dramatically in the presence of PNPG. These results suggest that PNPG has the potential to be developed as an agent active against the effects of P. mirabilis infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-731
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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