A Highly Dynamic Loop of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 Type IV Pilin Is Essential for Pilus Assembly
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Type IVa pili (T4aP) are long, thin surface filaments involved in attachment, motility, biofilm formation, and DNA uptake. They are important virulence factors for many bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen and common cause of hospital-acquired infections. Each helical filament contains thousands of monomers of the major pilin subunit, PilA. Each P. aeruginosa strain expresses one of five phylogenetically distinct major pilins, which vary in sequence and the nature of their associated accessory protein(s). Here, we present the backbone resonance assignment of the C-terminal domain of the group III PilA from strain PA14, a highly virulent, globally distributed clone. Secondary structure probabilities calculated from chemical shifts were in excellent agreement with previous homology modeling using a group V pilin structural template. The analysis revealed that the distal segment of the αβ loop had high microsecond-millisecond dynamics compared with other loop regions. Shortening of this segment by internal deletion abrogated pilus assembly in a dominant negative manner, suggesting a potential role in pilin polymerization. Pilin conformations that support optimal interactions of both the conserved hydrophobic N-termini in the pilus core and hydrophilic loops creating the filament surface may be necessary to produce stable filaments.
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