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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Mar;9(3):166-76. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2520.

Architects at the bacterial surface - sortases and the assembly of pili with isopeptide bonds.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Chicago, 920 East 58th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


The cell wall envelope of Gram-positive bacteria can be thought of as a surface organelle for the assembly of macromolecular structures that enable the unique lifestyle of each microorganism. Sortases - enzymes that cleave the sorting signals of secreted proteins to form isopeptide (amide) bonds between the secreted proteins and peptidoglycan or polypeptides - function as the principal architects of the bacterial surface. Acting alone or with other sortase enzymes, sortase construction leads to the anchoring of surface proteins at specific sites in the envelope or to the assembly of pili, which are fibrous structures formed from many protein subunits. The catalysis of intermolecular isopeptide bonds between pilin subunits is intertwined with the assembly of intramolecular isopeptide bonds within pilin subunits. Together, these isopeptide bonds endow these sortase products with adhesive properties and resistance to host proteases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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