A tale of two pili: Assembly and function of pili in bacteria

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Bacterial pili have long been recognized as mediators of initial host-pathogen interactions important for the progression of Gram-negative bacterial diseases. An appreciation of the role of pili on virulence in Gram-positive bacteria and the unique properties of their biogenesis is a rapidly emerging area of research. In this review, we focus on recent advances in one of the longest-studied Gram-negative pilus systems, the chaperone/usher assembled pili, along with the newcomer to the field, the sortase-assembled pili of Gram-positive bacteria. In both systems, a wealth of new structural and molecular details has emerged recently. In light of this, we explore similarities between chaperone/usher and sortase-assembled pilus biogenesis and highlight paradigms unique to each, with the goal of using knowledge of each system to raise new questions and inform future studies of the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-232
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


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