Characterisation of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa twitching motility gene and evidence for a specialised protein export system widespread in eubacteria

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Journal Article
Gene, 1991, 101 (1), pp. 33 - 44
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Type-4 fimbriae (pili) are associated with a phenomenon known as twitching motility, which appears to be involved with bacterial translocation across solid surfaces. Pseudomonas aeruginosa mutants which produce fimbriae, but which have lost the twitching motility function, display altered colony morphology and resistance to fimbrial-specific bacteriophage. We have used phenotypic complementation of such mutants to isolate a region of DNA involved in twitching motility. This region was physically mapped to a SpeI fragment around 20 min on the P. aeruginosa PAO chromosome, remote from the major fimbrial locus (around 75 min) where the structural subunit-encoding gene (fimA/pilA) and ancillary genes required for fimbrial assembly (pilB, C and D) are found. A gene, pilT, within the twitching motility region is predicted to encode a 344-amino acid protein which has strong homology to a variety of other bacterial proteins. These include the P. aeruginosa PilB protein, the ComG ORF-1 protein from the Bacillus subtilis comG operon (necessary for competence), the PulE protein from the Klebsiella oxytoca (formerly K. pneumoniae) pulC-O operon (involved in pullulanase export), and the VirB-11 protein from the virB operon (involved in virulence) which is located on the Agrobacterium tumefaciens Ti plasmid. We have also identified other sets of homologies between P. aeruginosa fimbrial assembly (Pil) proteins and B. subtilis Com and K. oxytoca Pul proteins, which suggest that these are all related members of a specialised protein export pathway which is widespread in the eubacteria. © 1991.
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