Function of the usher N-terminus in catalysing pilus assembly.

Center for Infectious Diseases, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5120, USA.
Molecular Microbiology (Impact Factor: 4.96). 02/2011; 79(4):954-67. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07505.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The chaperone/usher (CU) pathway is a conserved bacterial secretion system that assembles adhesive fibres termed pili or fimbriae. Pilus biogenesis by the CU pathway requires a periplasmic chaperone and an outer membrane (OM) assembly platform termed the usher. The usher catalyses formation of subunit-subunit interactions to promote polymerization of the pilus fibre and provides the channel for fibre secretion. The mechanism by which the usher catalyses pilus assembly is not known. Using the P and type 1 pilus systems of uropathogenic Escherichia coli, we show that a conserved N-terminal disulphide region of the PapC and FimD ushers, as well as residue F4 of FimD, are required for the catalytic activity of the ushers. PapC disulphide loop mutants were able to bind PapDG chaperone-subunit complexes, but did not assemble PapG into pilus fibres. FimD disulphide loop and F4 mutants were able to bind chaperone-subunit complexes and initiate assembly of pilus fibres, but were defective for extending the pilus fibres, as measured using in vivo co-purification and in vitro pilus polymerization assays. These results suggest that the catalytic activity of PapC is required to initiate pilus biogenesis, whereas the catalytic activity of FimD is required for extension of the pilus fibre.

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    ABSTRACT: Extracellular fibers called chaperone-usher pathway pili are critical virulence factors in a wide range of Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria that facilitate binding and invasion into host tissues and mediate biofilm formation. Chaperone-usher pathway ushers, which catalyze pilus assembly, contain five functional domains: a 24-stranded transmembrane β-barrel translocation domain (TD), a β-sandwich plug domain (PLUG), an N-terminal periplasmic domain, and two C-terminal periplasmic domains (CTD1 and 2). Pore gating occurs by a mechanism whereby the PLUG resides stably within the TD pore when the usher is inactive and then upon activation is translocated into the periplasmic space, where it functions in pilus assembly. Using antibiotic sensitivity and electrophysiology experiments, a single salt bridge was shown to function in maintaining the PLUG in the TD channel of the P pilus usher PapC, and a loop between the 12th and 13th beta strands of the TD (β12-13 loop) was found to facilitate pore opening. Mutation of the β12-13 loop resulted in a closed PapC pore, which was unable to efficiently mediate pilus assembly. Deletion of the PapH terminator/anchor resulted in increased OM permeability, suggesting a role for the proper anchoring of pili in retaining OM integrity. Further, we introduced cysteine residues in the PLUG and N-terminal periplasmic domains that resulted in a FimD usher with a greater propensity to exist in an open conformation, resulting in increased OM permeability but no loss in type 1 pilus assembly. These studies provide insights into the molecular basis of usher pore gating and its roles in pilus biogenesis and OM permeability.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: P pili are prototypical chaperone-usher pathway-assembled pili used by Gram-negative bacteria to adhere to host tissues. The PapC usher contains five functional domains: a transmembrane β-barrel, a β-sandwich Plug, an N-terminal (periplasmic) domain (NTD), and two C-terminal (periplasmic) domains, CTD1 and CTD2. Here, we delineated usher domain interactions between themselves and with chaperone-subunit complexes and showed that overexpression of individual usher domains inhibits pilus assembly. Prior work revealed that the Plug domain occludes the pore of the transmembrane domain of a solitary usher, but the chaperone-adhesin-bound usher has its Plug displaced from the pore, adjacent to the NTD. We demonstrate an interaction between the NTD and Plug domains that suggests a biophysical basis for usher gating. Furthermore, we found that the NTD exhibits high-affinity binding to the chaperone-adhesin (PapDG) complex and low-affinity binding to the major tip subunit PapE (PapDE). We also demonstrate that CTD2 binds with lower affinity to all tested chaperone-subunit complexes except for the chaperone-terminator subunit (PapDH) and has a catalytic role in dissociating the NTD-PapDG complex, suggesting an interplay between recruitment to the NTD and transfer to CTD2 during pilus initiation. The Plug domain and the NTD-Plug complex bound all of the chaperone-subunit complexes tested including PapDH, suggesting that the Plug actively recruits chaperone-subunit complexes to the usher and is the sole recruiter of PapDH. Overall, our studies reveal the cooperative, active roles played by periplasmic domains of the usher to initiate, grow, and terminate a prototypical chaperone-usher pathway pilus.
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    ABSTRACT: Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) in approximately 50% of women. These bacteria use type 1 and P pili for host recognition and attachment. These pili are assembled by the chaperone-usher pathway of pilus biogenesis. The review examines the biogenesis and adhesion of the UPEC type 1 and P pili. Particular emphasis is drawn to the role of the outer membrane usher protein. The structural properties of the complete pilus are also examined to highlight the strength and functionality of the final assembly. The usher orchestrates the sequential addition of pilus subunits in a defined order. This process follows a subunit-incorporation cycle which consists of four steps: recruitment at the usher N-terminal domain, donor-strand exchange with the previously assembled subunit, transfer to the usher C-terminal domains and translocation of the nascent pilus. Adhesion by the type 1 and P pili is strengthened by the quaternary structure of their rod sections. The rod is endowed with spring-like properties which provide mechanical resistance against urine flow. The distal adhesins operate differently from one another, targeting receptors in a specific manner. The biogenesis and adhesion of type 1 and P pili are being therapeutically targeted, and efforts to prevent pilus growth or adherence are described. The combination of structural and biochemical study has led to the detailed mechanistic understanding of this membrane spanning nano-machine. This can now be exploited to design novel drugs able to inhibit virulence. This is vital in the present era of resurgent antibiotics resistance. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Structural biochemistry and biophysics of membrane proteins.
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Jun 5, 2014