Abstract Acinetobacter baumannii is an opportunistic gram negative pathogen that can adhere to different surfaces and cause different nosocomial infections. To investigate the role of TonB-dependent copper receptor, an outer membrane protein, in virulence of A. baumannii, we deleted this receptor from A. baumannii chromosome. There was a significant decrease in biofilm formation by copper receptor deficient mutant strain. Similarly, the adherence to human epithelial cell and the hydrophobicity were declined. The survival rate of the mutant strain in human sera was reduced while no change was observed in motility of strains. In murine pneumonia model, the bacterial lethal dose 0 (LD0), LD50 and LD100 were increased for mutant strain. Moreover, in vivo and in vitro experiments revealed changes in growth rate and dissemination of mutant strain; so that the bacterial load of the mutant was significantly reduced in the spleen and lung. The findings suggest a critical role for TonB-dependent copper receptor in virulence of A. baumannii. Highlights Copper receptor plays crucial role in A. baumannii adherence to epithelial cells. TonB-dependent copper receptor deficient A. baumannii was created. The mutant strain exhibited reduced adherence to human epithelial cells. Biofilm formation and the hydrophobicity were significantly decreased. The lethal dose of ∆copper receptor strain was increased in murine pneumonia model.
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