18 October 2004 Dynamic properties of bacterial pili measured by optical tweezers
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The ability of uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) to cause urinary tract infections is dependent on their ability to colonize the uroepithelium. Infecting bacteria ascend the urethra to the bladder and then kidneys by attaching to the uroepithelial cells via the differential expression of adhesins. P pili are associated with pyelonephritis, the more severe infection of the kidneys. In order to find means to treat pyelonephritis, it is therefore of interest to investigate the properties P pili. The mechanical behavior of individual P pili of uropathogenic Escherichia coli has recently been investigated using optical tweezers. P pili, whose main part constitutes the PapA rod, composed of ~1000 PapA subunits in a helical arrangement, are distributed over the bacterial surface and mediate adhesion to host cells. We have earlier studied P pili regarding its stretching/elongation properties where we have found and characterized three different elongation regions, of which one constitute an unfolding of the quaternary (helical) structure of the PapA rod. It was shown that this unfolding takes place at an elongation independent force of 27 ± 2 pN. We have also recently performed studies on its folding properties and shown that the unfolding/folding of the PapA rod is completely reversible. Here we present a study of the dynamical properties of the PapA rod. We show, among other things, that the unfolding force increases and that the folding force decreases with the speed of unfolding and folding respectively. Moreover, the PapA rod can be folded-unfolded a significant number of times without loosing its characteristics, a phenomenon that is believed to be important for the bacterium to keep close contact to the host tissue and consequently helps the bacterium to colonize the host tissue.
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Erik G. Fallman, Erik G. Fallman, Magnus J. Andersson, Magnus J. Andersson, Staffan S. Schedin, Staffan S. Schedin, Jana Jass, Jana Jass, Bernt Eric Uhlin, Bernt Eric Uhlin, Ove Axner, Ove Axner, } "Dynamic properties of bacterial pili measured by optical tweezers", Proc. SPIE 5514, Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation, (18 October 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.579893; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.579893

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