Structural biology of the chaperone-usher pathway of pilus biogenesis

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Nov;7(11):765-74. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2220. Epub 2009 Oct 12.


The chaperone-usher (CU) pathway of pilus biogenesis is the most widespread of the five pathways that assemble adhesive pili at the surface of Gram-negative bacteria. Recent progress in the study of the structural biology of the CU pathway has unravelled the molecular basis of chaperone function and elucidated the mechanisms of fibre assembly at the outer membrane, leading to a comprehensive description of each step in the biogenesis pathway. Other studies have provided the molecular basis of host recognition by CU pili. The knowledge that has been gathered about both the assembly of and host recognition by CU pili has been harnessed to design promising antibiotic compounds.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fimbriae Proteins / genetics
  • Fimbriae Proteins / metabolism
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / genetics
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria* / genetics
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria* / metabolism
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria* / pathogenicity
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Chaperones* / chemistry
  • Molecular Chaperones* / genetics
  • Molecular Chaperones* / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Fimbriae Proteins