Structural insights into the biogenesis and biofilm formation by the Escherichia coli common pilus.


Bacteria have evolved a variety of mechanisms for developing community-based biofilms. These bacterial aggregates are of clinical importance, as they are a major source of recurrent disease. Bacterial surface fibers (pili) permit adherence to biotic and abiotic substrates, often in a highly specific manner. The Escherichia coli common pilus (ECP) represents a remarkable family of extracellular fibers that are associated with both disease-causing and commensal strains. ECP plays a dual role in early-stage biofilm development and host cell recognition. Despite being the most common fimbrial structure, relatively little is known regarding its biogenesis, architecture, and function. Here we report atomic-resolution insight into the biogenesis and architecture of ECP. We also derive a structural model for entwined ECP fibers that not only illuminates interbacteria communication during biofilm formation but also provides a useful foundation for the design of novel nanofibers.


  • PMC Free PDF
  • PMC Free Full Text
  • FREE Publisher Full Text
  • Authors

    Garnett JA

    Martínez-Santos VI

    Saldaña Z

    Pape T

    Hawthorne W

    Chan J

    Simpson PJ

    Cota E

    Puente JL

    Girón JA

    Matthews S


    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109:10 2012 Mar 6 pg 3950-5


    Adhesins, Bacterial
    Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
    Crystallography, X-Ray
    Escherichia coli
    Escherichia coli Proteins
    Fimbriae Proteins
    Fimbriae, Bacterial
    Genetic Variation
    Microscopy, Electron
    Models, Genetic
    Models, Molecular
    Molecular Chaperones
    Molecular Conformation

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



    PubMed ID