Sep 26, 2007

3D structure/function analysis of PilX reveals how minor pilins can modulate the virulence properties of type IV pili

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Sophie HelaineKatrina T Forest


Type IV pili (Tfp) are widespread filamentous bacterial organelles that mediate multiple virulence-related phenotypes. They are composed mainly of pilin subunits, which are processed before filament assembly by dedicated prepilin peptidases. Other proteins processed by these peptidases, whose molecular nature and mode of action remain enigmatic, play critical roles in Tfp biology. We have performed a detailed structure/function analysis of one such protein, PilX from Neisseria meningitidis, which is crucial for formation of bacterial aggregates and adhesion to human cells. The x-ray crystal structure of PilX reveals the alpha/beta roll fold shared by all pilins, and we show that this protein colocalizes with Tfp. These observations suggest that PilX is a minor, or low abundance, pilin that assembles within the filaments in a similar way to pilin. Deletion of a PilX distinctive structural element, which is predicted to be exposed on the filament surface, abolishes aggregation and adhesion. Our results support a model in which surface-exposed motifs in PilX subunits stabilize bacterial aggregates against the disruptive force of pilus retraction and illustrate how a minor pilus component can enhance the functional properties of pi...Continue Reading

  • References35
  • Citations74


Mentioned in this Paper

Conserved Sequence
Neisseria meningitidis
Bacterial Proteins
Plain X-ray
Peptide Hydrolases
Gene Deletion Abnormality
Crystallography, X-Ray
Pilus Retraction

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