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EcoSal Plus. 2018 Mar;8(1). doi: 10.1128/ecosalplus.ESP-0007-2017.

Pili Assembled by the Chaperone/Usher Pathway in Escherichia coli and Salmonella.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.


Gram-negative bacteria assemble a variety of surface structures, including the hair-like organelles known as pili or fimbriae. Pili typically function in adhesion and mediate interactions with various surfaces, with other bacteria, and with other types of cells such as host cells. The chaperone/usher (CU) pathway assembles a widespread class of adhesive and virulence-associated pili. Pilus biogenesis by the CU pathway requires a dedicated periplasmic chaperone and integral outer membrane protein termed the usher, which forms a multifunctional assembly and secretion platform. This review addresses the molecular and biochemical aspects of the CU pathway in detail, focusing on the type 1 and P pili expressed by uropathogenic Escherichia coli as model systems. We provide an overview of representative CU pili expressed by E. coli and Salmonella, and conclude with a discussion of potential approaches to develop antivirulence therapeutics that interfere with pilus assembly or function.

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