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The nanomechanical properties of lactococcus lactis pili are conditioned by the polymerized backbone pilin

Abstract : Pili produced by Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis are putative linear structures consisting of repetitive subunits of the major pilin PilB that forms the backbone, pilin PilA situated at the distal end of the pilus, and an anchoring pilin PilC that tethers the pilus to the peptidoglycan. We determined the nanomechanical properties of pili using optical-tweezers force spectroscopy. Single pili were exposed to optical forces that yielded force-versus-extension spectra fitted using the Worm-Like Chain model. Native pili subjected to a force of 0-200 pN exhibit an inextensible, but highly flexible ultrastructure, reflected by their short persistence length. We tested a panel of derived strains to understand the functional role of the different pilins. First, we found that both the major pilin PilB and sortase C organize the backbone into a full-length organelle and dictate the nanomechanical properties of the pili. Second, we found that both PilA tip pilin and PilC anchoring pilin were not essential for the nanomechanical properties of pili. However, PilC maintains the pilus on the bacterial surface and may play a crucial role in the adhesion-and biofilm-forming properties of L. lactis.
Mots-clés : lactococcus lactis
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Mickaël Castelain, Marie-Pierre Duviau, Alexis Canette, Philippe Schmitz, Pascal Loubière, et al.. The nanomechanical properties of lactococcus lactis pili are conditioned by the polymerized backbone pilin. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2016, 11 (3), ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0152053⟩. ⟨hal-01886384⟩

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