Crystal structure of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli intimin-receptor complex

Nature. 2000 Jun 29;405(6790):1073-7. doi: 10.1038/35016618.


Intimin and its translocated intimin receptor (Tir) are bacterial proteins that mediate adhesion between mammalian cells and attaching and effacing (A/E) pathogens. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) causes significant paediatric morbidity and mortality world-wide. A related A/E pathogen, enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC; O157:H7) is one of the most important food-borne pathogens in North America, Europe and Japan. A unique and essential feature of A/E bacterial pathogens is the formation of actin-rich pedestals beneath the intimately adherent bacteria and localized destruction of the intestinal brush border. The bacterial outer membrane adhesin, intimin, is necessary for the production of the A/E lesion and diarrhoea. The A/E bacteria translocate their own receptor for intimin, Tir, into the membrane of mammalian cells using the type III secretion system. The translocated Tir triggers additional host signalling events and actin nucleation, which are essential for lesion formation. Here we describe the the crystal structures of an EPEC intimin carboxy-terminal fragment alone and in complex with the EPEC Tir intimin-binding domain, giving insight into the molecular mechanisms of adhesion of A/E pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial*
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Calorimetry
  • Carrier Proteins*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry*
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / chemistry*


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Tir protein, E coli
  • eaeA protein, E coli

Associated data

  • PDB/1F00
  • PDB/1F02