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Microbiol Spectr. 2019 Mar;7(2). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PSIB-0006-2018.

The Dynamic Structures of the Type IV Pilus.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada.
Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5, Canada.


Type IV pilus (T4P)-like systems have been identified in almost every major phylum of prokaryotic life. They include the type IVa pilus (T4aP), type II secretion system (T2SS), type IVb pilus (T4bP), Tad/Flp pilus, Com pilus, and archaeal flagellum (archaellum). These systems are used for adhesion, natural competence, phage adsorption, folded-protein secretion, surface sensing, swimming motility, and twitching motility. The T4aP allows for all of these functions except swimming and is therefore a good model system for understanding T4P-like systems. Recent structural analyses have revolutionized our understanding of how the T4aP machinery assembles and functions. Here we review the structure and function of the T4aP.

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