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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2005 Apr;3(4):333-41.

Amyloids--a functional coat for microorganisms.

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Department of Haematology, Thrombosis and Haemostasis Laboratory, Institute of Biomembranes, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Amyloids are filamentous protein structures approximately 10 nm wide and 0.1-10 mum long that share a structural motif, the cross-beta structure. These fibrils are usually associated with degenerative diseases in mammals. However, recent research has shown that these proteins are also expressed on bacterial and fungal cell surfaces. Microbial amyloids are important in mediating mechanical invasion of abiotic and biotic substrates. In animal hosts, evidence indicates that these protein structures also contribute to colonization by activating host proteases that are involved in haemostasis, inflammation and remodelling of the extracellular matrix. Activation of proteases by amyloids is also implicated in modulating blood coagulation, resulting in potentially life-threatening complications.

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