Document Type


Date of Original Version



Cell & Molecular Biology


Periodontitis is a microbial infection that destroys the structures that support the teeth. Although it is typically a chronic condition, rapidly progressing, aggressive forms are associated with the oral pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. One of this bacterium's key virulence traits is its ability to attach to surfaces and form robust biofilms that resist killing by the host and antibiotics. Though much has been learned about A. actinomycetemcomitans since its initial discovery, we lack insight into a fundamental aspect of its basic biology, as we do not know the full set of genes that it requires for viability (the essential genome). Furthermore, research on A. actinomycetemcomitans is hampered by the field's lack of a mutant collection. To address these gaps, we used rapid transposon mutant sequencing (Tn-seq) to define the essential genomes of two strains of A. actinomycetemcomitans, revealing a core set of 319 genes. We then generated an arrayed mutant library comprising >1,500 unique insertions and used a sequencing-based approach to define each mutant's position (well and plate) in the library. To demonstrate its utility, we screened the library for mutants with weakened resistance to subinhibitory erythromycin, revealing the multidrug efflux pump AcrAB as a critical resistance factor. During the screen, we discovered that erythromycin induces A. actinomycetemcomitans to form biofilms. We therefore devised a novel Tn-seq-based screen to identify specific factors that mediate this phenotype and in follow-up experiments confirmed 4 mutants. Together, these studies present new insights and resources for investigating the basic biology and disease mechanisms of a human pathogen.