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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Role of type 1 and type 3 fimbriae in Klebsiella pneumoniae biofilm formation

Casper Schroll1, Kim B Barken2, Karen A Krogfelt1 and Carsten Struve1*

  • * Corresponding author: Carsten Struve

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiological Surveillance and Research, Statens Serum Institut, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark

2 Centre for Biomedical Microbiology, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Lyngby, Denmark

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:179  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-179

Published: 23 June 2010



Klebsiella pneumoniae is an important gram-negative opportunistic pathogen causing primarily urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and bacteraemia. The ability of bacteria to form biofilms on medical devices, e.g. catheters, has a major role in development of many nosocomial infections. Most clinical K. pneumoniae isolates express two types of fimbrial adhesins, type 1 fimbriae and type 3 fimbriae. In this study, we characterized the role of type 1 and type 3 fimbriae in K. pneumoniae biofilm formation.


Isogenic fimbriae mutants of the clinical K. pneumoniae isolate C3091 were constructed, and their ability to form biofilm was investigated in a flow cell system by confocal scanning laser microscopy. The wild type strain was found to form characteristic biofilm and development of K. pneumoniae biofilm occurred primarily by clonal growth, not by recruitment of planktonic cells. Type 1 fimbriae did not influence biofilm formation and the expression of type 1 fimbriae was found to be down-regulated in biofilm forming cells. In contrast, expression of type 3 fimbriae was found to strongly promote biofilm formation.


By use of well defined isogenic mutants we found that type 3 fimbriae, but not type 1 fimbriae, strongly promote biofilm formation in K. pneumoniae C3091. As the vast majority of clinical K. pneumoniae isolates express type 3 fimbriae, this fimbrial adhesin may play a significant role in development of catheter associated K. pneumoniae infections.