Structural and functional studies of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa minor pilin, PilE.
ABSTRACT: Many bacterial pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, use type IVa pili (T4aP) for attachment and twitching motility. T4aP are composed primarily of major pilin subunits, which are repeatedly assembled and disassembled to mediate function. A group of pilin-like proteins, the minor pilins FimU and PilVWXE, prime pilus assembly and are incorporated into the pilus. We showed previously that minor pilin PilE depends on the putative priming subcomplex PilVWX and the non-pilin protein PilY1 for incorporation into pili, and that with FimU, PilE may couple the priming subcomplex to the major pilin PilA, allowing for efficient pilus assembly. Here we provide further support for this model, showing interaction of PilE with other minor pilins and the major pilin. A 1.25 Å crystal structure of PilE?1-28 shows a typical type IV pilin fold, demonstrating how it may be incorporated into the pilus. Despite limited sequence identity, PilE is structurally similar to Neisseria meningitidis minor pilins PilXNm and PilVNm, recently suggested via characterization of mCherry fusions to modulate pilus assembly from within the periplasm. A P. aeruginosa PilE-mCherry fusion failed to complement twitching motility or piliation of a pilE mutant. However, in a retraction-deficient strain where surface piliation depends solely on PilE, the fusion construct restored some surface piliation. PilE-mCherry was present in sheared surface fractions, suggesting that it was incorporated into pili. Together, these data provide evidence that PilE, the sole P. aeruginosa equivalent of PilXNm and PilVNm, likely connects a priming subcomplex to the major pilin, promoting efficient assembly of T4aP.
Project description:Type IV pili (T4P) contain hundreds of major subunits, but minor subunits are also required for assembly and function. Here we show that Pseudomonas aeruginosa minor pilins prime pilus assembly and traffic the pilus-associated adhesin and anti-retraction protein, PilY1, to the cell surface. PilV, PilW, and PilX require PilY1 for inclusion in surface pili and vice versa, suggestive of complex formation. PilE requires PilVWXY1 for inclusion, suggesting that it binds a novel interface created by two or more components. FimU is incorporated independently of the others and is proposed to couple the putative minor pilin-PilY1 complex to the major subunit. The production of small amounts of T4P by a mutant lacking the minor pilin operon was traced to expression of minor pseudopilins from the P. aeruginosa type II secretion (T2S) system, showing that under retraction-deficient conditions, T2S minor subunits can prime T4P assembly. Deletion of all minor subunits abrogated pilus assembly. In a strain lacking the minor pseudopilins, PilVWXY1 and either FimU or PilE comprised the minimal set of components required for pilus assembly. Supporting functional conservation of T2S and T4P minor components, our 1.4 Å crystal structure of FimU revealed striking architectural similarity to its T2S ortholog GspH, despite minimal sequence identity. We propose that PilVWXY1 form a priming complex for assembly and that PilE and FimU together stably couple the complex to the major subunit. Trafficking of the anti-retraction factor PilY1 to the cell surface allows for production of pili of sufficient length to support adherence and motility.
Project description:Type IV pili are expressed by a wide range of prokaryotes, including the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These flexible fibres mediate twitching motility, biofilm maturation, surface adhesion, and virulence. The pilus is composed mainly of major pilin subunits while the low abundance minor pilins FimU-PilVWXE and the putative adhesin PilY1 prime pilus assembly and are proposed to form the pilus tip. The minor pilins and PilY1 are encoded in an operon that is positively regulated by the FimS-AlgR two-component system. Independent of pilus assembly, PilY1 was proposed to be a mechanosensory component that-in conjunction with minor pilins-triggers up-regulation of acute virulence phenotypes upon surface attachment. Here, we investigated the link between the minor pilins/PilY1 and virulence. pilW, pilX, and pilY1 mutants had reduced virulence towards Caenorhabditis elegans relative to wild type or a major pilin mutant, implying a role in pathogenicity that is independent of pilus assembly. We hypothesized that loss of specific minor pilins relieves feedback inhibition on FimS-AlgR, increasing transcription of the AlgR regulon and delaying C. elegans killing. Reporter assays confirmed that FimS-AlgR were required for increased expression of the minor pilin operon upon loss of select minor pilins. Overexpression of AlgR or its hyperactivation via a phosphomimetic mutation reduced virulence, and the virulence defects of pilW, pilX, and pilY1 mutants required FimS-AlgR expression and activation. We propose that PilY1 and the minor pilins inhibit their own expression, and that loss of these proteins leads to FimS-mediated activation of AlgR that suppresses expression of acute-phase virulence factors and delays killing. This mechanism could contribute to adaptation of P. aeruginosa in chronic lung infections, as mutations in the minor pilin operon result in the loss of piliation and increased expression of AlgR-dependent virulence factors-such as alginate-that are characteristic of such infections.
Project description:Type 4a pili (T4aP) are long, thin and dynamic fibres displayed on the surface of diverse bacteria promoting adherence, motility and transport functions. Genomes of many Enterobacteriaceae contain conserved gene clusters encoding putative T4aP assembly systems. However, their expression has been observed only in few strains including Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) and their inducers remain unknown. Here we used EHEC genomic DNA as a template to amplify and assemble an artificial operon composed of four gene clusters encoding 13 pilus assembly proteins. Controlled expressions of this operon in nonpathogenic E. coli strains led to efficient assembly of T4aP composed of the major pilin PpdD, as shown by shearing assays and immunofluorescence microscopy. When compared with PpdD pili assembled in a heterologous Klebsiella T2SS type 2 secretion system (T2SS) by using cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM), these pili showed indistinguishable helical parameters, emphasizing that major pilins are the principal determinants of the fibre structure. Bacterial two-hybrid analysis identified several interactions of PpdD with T4aP assembly proteins, and with components of the T2SS that allow for heterologous fibre assembly. These studies lay ground for further characterization of the T4aP structure, function and biogenesis in enterobacteria.
Project description:Type IVa pili are ubiquitous and versatile bacterial cell surface filaments that undergo cycles of extension, adhesion and retraction powered by the cell-envelope spanning type IVa pilus machine (T4aPM). The overall architecture of the T4aPM and the location of 10 conserved core proteins within this architecture have been elucidated. Here, using genetics, cell biology, proteomics and cryo-electron tomography, we demonstrate that the PilY1 protein and four minor pilins, which are widely conserved in T4aP systems, are essential for pilus extension in Myxococcus xanthus and form a complex that is an integral part of the T4aPM. Moreover, these proteins are part of the extended pilus. Our data support a model whereby the PilY1/minor pilin complex functions as a priming complex in T4aPM for pilus extension, a tip complex in the extended pilus for adhesion, and a cork for terminating retraction to maintain a priming complex for the next round of extension.
Project description:As mediators of adhesion, autoaggregation and bacteria-induced plasma membrane reorganization, type IV pili are at the heart of Neisseria meningitidis infection. Previous studies have proposed that two minor pilins, PilV and PilX, are displayed along the pilus structure and play a direct role in mediating these effects. In contrast with this hypothesis, combining imaging and biochemical approaches we found that PilV and PilX are located in the bacterial periplasm rather than along pilus fibers. Furthermore, preventing exit of these proteins from the periplasm by fusing them to the mCherry protein did not alter their function. Deletion of the pilV and pilX genes led to a decrease in the number, but not length, of pili displayed on the bacterial surface indicating a role in the initiation of pilus biogenesis. By finely regulating the expression of a central component of the piliation machinery, we show that the modest reductions in the number of pili are sufficient to recapitulate the phenotypes of the pilV and pilX mutants. We further show that specific type IV pili-dependent functions require different ranges of pili numbers.
Project description:A noticeable genomic feature of many piliated Gram-positive bacterial species is the presence of more than one pilus-encoding operon. Paradigmatically, the gut-adapted Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain contains two different fimbrial operons in its genome. However, whereas one of these operons (called spaCBA) is encoding for the functionally mucus-/collagen-binding SpaCBA pilus, for the other operon (called spaFED) any native expression of the SpaFED-called pili is still the subject of some uncertainty. Irrespective of such considerations, we decided it would be of relevance or interest to decipher the gross structure of this pilus type, and as well assess its functional capabilities for cellular adhesion and immunostimulation. For this, and by following the approach we had used previously to explicate the immuno-properties of SpaCBA pili, we constructed nisin-inducible expression clones producing either wild-type or SpaF pilin-deleted surface-assembled L. rhamnosus GG SpaFED pili on Lactococcus lactis cells. Using these piliated lactococcal constructs, we found that the pilin-polymerized architecture of a recombinant-produced SpaFED pilus coincides with sequence-based functional predictions of the related pilins, and in fact is prototypical of those other sortase-dependent pilus-like structures thus far characterized for piliated Gram-positive bacteria. Moreover, we confirmed that among the different pilin subunits encompassing spaFED operon-encoded pili, the SpaF pilin is a main adhesion determinant, and when present in the assembled structure can mediate pilus binding to mucus, certain extracellular matrix proteins, and different gut epithelial cell lines. However, somewhat unexpectedly, when recombinant SpaFED pili are surface-attached, we found that they could not potentiate the existing lactococcal cell-induced immune responses so elicited from intestinal- and immune-related cells, but rather instead, they could dampen them. Accordingly, we have now provided the first phenotypical description of a spaFED pilus operon, and with that furthered the functional understanding of surface piliation for a particular gut-commensalic genre of piliated Gram-positive bacteria.
Project description:Type IV pili (TFP) are multifunctional micrometer-long filaments expressed at the surface of many prokaryotes. In Neisseria meningitidis, TFP are crucial for virulence. Indeed, these homopolymers of the major pilin PilE mediate interbacterial aggregation and adhesion to host cells. However, the mechanisms behind these functions remain unclear. Here, we simultaneously determined regions of PilE involved in pilus display, auto-aggregation and adhesion by using deep mutational scanning and mining this extensive functional map. For auto-aggregation, pili must reach a minimum length to allow pilus-pilus interactions through an electropositive cluster of residues centered around Lys140. For adhesion, results point to a key role for the tip of the pilus. Accordingly, purified pili interacting with host cells initially bind via their tip-located major pilin and then along their length. Overall, these results identify functional domains of PilE and support a direct role of the major pilin in TFP-dependent aggregation and adhesion.
Project description:Type IV pili (TFP) are multifunctional micrometer-long filaments expressed at the surface of many prokaryotes. In Neisseria meningitidis, TFP are crucial for virulence. Indeed, these homopolymers of the major pilin PilE mediate interbacterial aggregation and adhesion to host cells. However, the mechanisms behind these functions remain unclear. Here, we simultaneously determined regions of PilE involved in pilus display, auto-aggregation, and adhesion by using deep mutational scanning and started mining this extensive functional map. For auto-aggregation, pili must reach a minimum length to allow pilus-pilus interactions through an electropositive cluster of residues centered around Lys140. For adhesion, results point to a key role for the tip of the pilus. Accordingly, purified pili interacting with host cells initially bind via their tip-located major pilin and then along their length. Overall, these results identify functional domains of PilE and support a direct role of the major pilin in TFP-dependent aggregation and adhesion.
Project description:Type IV pili are extracellular polymers of the major pilin subunit. These subunits are held together in the pilus filament by hydrophobic interactions among their N-terminal ?-helices, which also anchor the pilin subunits in the inner membrane prior to pilus assembly. Type IV pilus assembly involves a conserved group of proteins that span the envelope of Gram-negative bacteria. Among these is a set of minor pilins, so named because they share their hydrophobic N-terminal polymerization/membrane anchor segment with the major pilins but are much less abundant. Minor pilins influence pilus assembly and retraction, but their precise functions are not well defined. The Type IV pilus systems of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae are among the simplest of Type IV pilus systems and possess only a single minor pilin. Here we show that the enterotoxigenic E. coli minor pilins CofB and LngB are required for assembly of their respective Type IV pili, CFA/III and Longus. Low levels of the minor pilins are optimal for pilus assembly, and CofB can be detected in the pilus fraction. We solved the 2.0 Å crystal structure of N-terminally truncated CofB, revealing a pilin-like protein with an extended C-terminal region composed of two discrete domains connected by flexible linkers. The C-terminal region is required for CofB to initiate pilus assembly. We propose a model for CofB-initiated pilus assembly with implications for understanding filament growth in more complex Type IV pilus systems as well as the related Type II secretion system.
Project description:Type IV pili are multifunctional filaments displayed on many bacterial pathogens. Members of the Type IVa pilus subclass are found on a diverse group of human pathogens, whereas Type IVb pili are found almost exclusively on enteric bacteria. The Type IVa and IVb subclasses are distinguished by differences in the pilin subunits, including the fold of the globular domain. To understand the implications of the distinct pilin folds, we compared the stabilities of pilin subunits and pilus filaments for the Type IVa GC pilus from Neisseria gonorrhoeae and the Type IVb toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP) from Vibrio cholerae. We show that while recombinant TCP pilin is more stable than GC pilin, the GC pili are more resistant to proteolysis, heat and chemical denaturation than TCP, remaining intact in 8 M urea. To understand these differences, we determined the TCP structure by electron microscopy and three-dimensional image reconstruction. TCP have an architecture similar to that of GC pili, with subunits arranged in a right-handed 1-start helix and related by an 8.4-Å axial rise and a 96.8° azimuthal rotation. However, the TCP subunits are not as tightly packed as GC pilins, and the distinct Type IVb pilin fold exposes a segment of the ?-helical core of TCP. Hydrophobic interactions dominate for both pilus subtypes, but base stacking by aromatic residues conserved among the Type IVa pilins may contribute to GC pilus stability. The extraordinary stability of GC pili may represent an adaptation of the Type IVa pili to harsh environments and the need to retract against external forces.