Analysis of the contribution of MTP and the predicted flp pilus genes to Mycobacterium tuberculosis pathogenesis

Katherine M. Mann, Aaron C. Pride, Kelly Flentie, Jacqueline M. Kimmey, Leslie A. Weiss, Christina L. Stallings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is one of the world’s most successful pathogens. Millions of new cases of tuberculosis occur each year, emphasizing the need for better methods of treatment. The design of novel therapeutics is dependent on our understanding of factors that are essential for pathogenesis. Many bacterial pathogens use pili and other adhesins to mediate pathogenesis. The recently identified Mycobacterium tuberculosis pilus (MTP) and the hypothetical, widely conserved Flp pilus have been speculated to be important for Mtb virulence based on in vitro studies and homology to other pili, respectively. However, the roles for these pili during infection have yet to be tested. We addressed this gap in knowledge and found that neither MTP nor the hypothetical Flp pilus is required for Mtb survival in mouse models of infection, although MTP can contribute to biofilm formation and subsequent isoniazid tolerance. However, differences in mtp expression did affect lesion architecture in infected lungs. Deletion of mtp did not correlate with loss of cell-associated extracellular structures as visualized by transmission electron microscopy in Mtb Erdman and HN878 strains, suggesting that the phenotypes of the mtp mutants were not due to defects in production of extracellular structures. These findings highlight the importance of testing the virulence of adhesion mutants in animal models to assess the contribution of the adhesin to infection. This study also underscores the need for further investigation into additional strategies that Mtb may use to adhere to its host so that we may understand how this pathogen invades, colonizes and disseminates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1784-1796
Number of pages13
JournalMicrobiology (United Kingdom)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2016


  • Adhesin
  • Bacteria
  • Mycobacterium
  • Pilus
  • Tuberculosis
  • Virulence


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