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Pilus Biogenesis in Lactococcus lactis: Molecular Characterization and Role in Aggregation and Biofilm Formation

Abstract : The genome of Lactococcus lactis strain IL1403 harbors a putative pilus biogenesis cluster consisting of a sortase C gene flanked by 3 LPxTG protein encoding genes (yhgD, yhgE, and yhhB), called here pil. However, pili were not detected under standard growth conditions. Over-expression of the pil operon resulted in production and display of pili on the surface of lactococci. Functional analysis of the pilus biogenesis machinery indicated that the pilus shaft is formed by oligomers of the YhgE pilin, that the pilus cap is formed by the YhgD pilin and that YhhB is the basal pilin allowing the tethering of the pilus fibers to the cell wall. Oligomerization of pilin subunits was catalyzed by sortase C while anchoring of pili to the cell wall was mediated by sortase A. Piliated L. lactis cells exhibited an auto-aggregation phenotype in liquid cultures, which was attributed to the polymerization of major pilin, YhgE. The piliated lactococci formed thicker, more aerial biofilms compared to those produced by non-piliated bacteria. This phenotype was attributed to oligomers of YhgE. This study provides the first dissection of the pilus biogenesis machinery in a non-pathogenic Gram-positive bacterium. Analysis of natural lactococci isolates from clinical and vegetal environments showed pili production under standard growth conditions. The identification of functional pili in lactococci suggests that the changes they promote in aggregation and biofilm formation may be important for the natural lifestyle as well as for applications in which these bacteria are used.
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Contributor : Jean-Christophe Piard <>
Submitted on : Monday, November 30, 2020 - 1:58:25 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 2:56:38 PM


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Virginie Oxaran, Florence Ledue-Clier, Yakhya Dieye, Jean-Marie Herry, Christine Péchoux, et al.. Pilus Biogenesis in Lactococcus lactis: Molecular Characterization and Role in Aggregation and Biofilm Formation. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2012, 7 (12), pp.e50989. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0050989⟩. ⟨hal-03031272⟩



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