Crystal Structure of the P Pilus Rod Subunit PapA
Hultgren, Scott J
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Citation (published version)Verger, Denis, Esther Bullitt, Scott J Hultgren, Gabriel Waksman. "Crystal Structure of the P Pilus Rod Subunit PapA" PLoS Pathogens 3(5): e73. (2007)
P pili are important adhesive fibres involved in kidney infection by uropathogenic Escherichia coli strains. P pili are assembled by the conserved chaperone-usher pathway, which involves the PapD chaperone and the PapC usher. During pilus assembly, subunits are incorporated into the growing fiber via the donor-strand exchange (DSE) mechanism, whereby the chaperone's G1 β-strand that complements the incomplete immunoglobulin-fold of each subunit is displaced by the N-terminal extension (Nte) of an incoming subunit. P pili comprise a helical rod, a tip fibrillum, and an adhesin at the distal end. PapA is the rod subunit and is assembled into a superhelical right-handed structure. Here, we have solved the structure of a ternary complex of PapD bound to PapA through donor-strand complementation, itself bound to another PapA subunit through DSE. This structure provides insight into the structural basis of the DSE reaction involving this important pilus subunit. Using gel filtration chromatography and electron microscopy on a number of PapA Nte mutants, we establish that PapA differs in its mode of assembly compared with other Pap subunits, involving a much larger Nte that encompasses not only the DSE region of the Nte but also the region N-terminal to it. Author Summary. Bacterial adhesion to a host is a crucial step that determines the onset of bacterial infection. It is mediated through recognition of a receptor on the host cell surface by a protein called an adhesin displayed on the surface of the bacterium. Many adhesins are displayed at the tip of specialized organelles called pili, some of which are assembled by the ubiquitous chaperone-usher pathway. In this pathway, each pilus subunit is assisted in folding by a chaperone. The resulting chaperone-subunit complex is targeted to a pore located in the outer membrane, called the usher, that serves as assembly platform. There, pilus subunits dissociate from the chaperone and polymerize, resulting in a surface organelle, the pilus, that protrudes out of the usher. Here, we have determined the structure of the major subunit of the P pilus, PapA. The P pilus, produced in uropathogenic Escherichia coli, displays the adhesin PapG responsible for targeting the bacterium to the kidney epithelium. We have determined the structure of PapA either bound to its cognate chaperone, PapD, or bound to another PapA subunit. These structures provide a view of PapA before and after its assembly in the pilus and shed light on the mechanism of PapA assembly.