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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Sep;29(5):1249-61.

The pilH gene encodes an ABC transporter homologue required for type IV pilus biogenesis and social gliding motility in Myxococcus xanthus.

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Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305, USA.


Type IV pilus genes have been shown to be required for social gliding motility in Myxococcus xanthus. We report the discovery of four additional pil genes: pilD, a homologue of type IV prepilin leader peptidases; and pilG, pilH and pilI, which have no known homologues in other type IV pilus systems. pilH encodes an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter homologue, the first such homologue to be required for the biogenesis of any bacterial pilus type. pilG and pilI are co-transcribed with pilH and appear to be functionally related to pilH. Null mutants of pilG, pilH and pilI all lack social motility, are deficient in pilus production, have elevated sporulation efficiencies and display similar developmental abnormalities. In addition, all three mutations reduced the amount of PilA found in the supernatant after cells were sedimented from liquid culture. We suggest that the products of these three genes form a single ABC exporter complex, in which pilI is an integral membrane protein with membrane-spanning domains, and pilG is an accessory factor. The complex may participate in pilus assembly and/or the export of PilA pilin.

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