A research team led by David Thanassi, PhD, of Stony Brook University, has used molecular biology and cryptoelectron microscopy to successfully unravel the structure of bacterial appendages called P pili. These pili are deployed by uropathogenic strains of Escherichia coli bacteria that cause kidney infections. The structure of P pili had been elusive to scientists for many years. The finding, published in Nature Communications, is a key step in guiding the P pili in the infection process.
Given its central role in initiating and maintaining infection, there is intense interest in understanding the mechanisms of pilus assembly and function. Our report on the structure of P pili may help pave the way for a method that interferes with the assembly or function of pilus in order to develop new therapeutics as a potential alternative to antibiotics. A new approach can help us better treat urinary tract infections and other infectious diseases. “
David Thanassi, PhD, Senior Author, Professor of the Zhang Family and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Renaissance Medicine, Stony Brook University
Bacterial urinary tract infections are common and are associated with high rates of antibiotic resistance, which is why Thanassi and the research team are focusing on the battery structures involved in these infections. Kidney infections themselves pose a significant risk for bacteria to enter the bloodstream, an action that could lead to lethal bacterial sepsis.
This latest work is based on previous research by the team and other scientists who revealed the structure of related bacterial appendages, called pili type 1, that facilitate bladder colonization. To further understand this research, it was reported in Nature in 2018 and the research approach in general, watch this news and this video.
Stupid., et al. (2021) Procedural dynamics of the usher mounting platform during the uropathogenic biogenesis of Escherichia coli P pilus. Communications on Nature. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-25522-6.