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J Bacteriol. 2011 May;193(9):2081-8. doi: 10.1128/JB.00071-11. Epub 2011 Mar 11.

More than one way to control hair growth: regulatory mechanisms in enterobacteria that affect fimbriae assembled by the chaperone/usher pathway.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, University of Iowa, 3-403 BSB, 51 Newton Rd., Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Many gram-negative enterobacteria produce surface-associated fimbriae that facilitate attachment and adherence to eucaryotic cells and tissues. These organelles are believed to play an important role during infection by enabling bacteria to colonize specific niches within their hosts. One class of these fimbriae is assembled using a periplasmic chaperone and membrane-associated scaffolding protein that has been referred to as an usher because of its function in fimbrial biogenesis. The presence of multiple types of fimbriae assembled by the chaperone/usher pathway can be found both within a single bacterial species and also among different genera. One way of controlling fimbrial assembly in these bacteria is at the genetic level by positively or negatively regulating fimbrial gene expression. This minireview considers the mechanisms that have been described to control fimbrial gene expression and uses specific examples to demonstrate both unique and shared properties of such regulatory mechanisms.

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