Pili in Gram-positive Bacteria: Assembly, Involvement in Colonization and Biofilm Development

Trends Microbiol. 2008 Jan;16(1):33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2007.10.010.


Various cell-surface multisubunit protein polymers, known as pili or fimbriae, have a pivotal role in the colonization of specific host tissues by many pathogenic bacteria. In contrast to Gram-negative bacteria, Gram-positive bacteria assemble pili by a distinct mechanism involving a transpeptidase called sortase. Sortase crosslinks individual pilin monomers and ultimately joins the resulting covalent polymer to the cell-wall peptidoglycan. Here we review current knowledge of this mechanism and the roles of Gram-positive pili in the colonization of specific host tissues, modulation of host immune responses and the development of bacterial biofilms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / physiology
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology*
  • Models, Biological


  • Adhesins, Bacterial