UMMS Affiliation

Program in Molecular Medicine

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Bacteria | Bacteriology | Pathogenic Microbiology


R-bodies are long, extendable protein polymers formed in the cytoplasm of some bacteria; they are best known for their role in killing of paramecia by bacterial endosymbionts. Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14, an opportunistic pathogen of diverse hosts, contains genes (referred to as the reb cluster) with potential to confer production of R-bodies and that have been implicated in virulence. Here, we show that products of the PA14 reb cluster associate with R-bodies and control stochastic expression of R-body structural genes. PA14 expresses reb genes during colonization of plant and nematode hosts, and R-body production is required for full virulence in nematodes. Analyses of nematode ribosome content and immune response indicate that P. aeruginosa R-bodies act via a mechanism involving ribosome cleavage and translational inhibition. Our observations provide insight into the biology of R-body production and its consequences during P. aeruginosa infection.


Bacterial pathogenesis, Bacteriology, Cellular microbiology, Pathogens

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Wang B, Lin YC, Vasquez-Rifo A, Jo J, Price-Whelan A, McDonald ST, Brown LM, Sieben C, Dietrich LEP. Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 produces R-bodies, extendable protein polymers with roles in host colonization and virulence. Nat Commun. 2021 Jul 29;12(1):4613. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24796-0. PMID: 34326342; PMCID: PMC8322103. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Nature communications

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Link to Article in PubMed

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.