Identification of an additional minor pilin essential for piliation in the archaeon Methanococcus maripaludis

PLoS One. 2013 Dec 30;8(12):e83961. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083961. eCollection 2013.


Methanococcus maripaludis is an archaeon with two studied surface appendages, archaella and type IV-like pili. Previously, the major structural pilin was identified as MMP1685 and three additional proteins were designated as minor pilins (EpdA, EpdB and EpdC). All of the proteins are likely processed by the pilin-specific prepilin peptidase EppA. Six other genes were identified earlier as likely encoding pilin proteins processed also by EppA. In this study, each of the six genes (mmp0528, mmp0600, mmp0601, mmp0709, mmp0903 and mmp1283) was deleted and the mutants examined by electron microscopy to determine their essentiality for pili formation. While mRNA transcripts of all genes were detected by RT-PCR, only the deletion of mmp1283 led to nonpiliated cells. This strain could be complemented back to a piliated state by supplying a wildtype copy of the mmp1283 gene in trans. This study adds to the complexity of the type IV pili system in M. maripaludis and raises questions about the functions of the remaining five pilin-like genes and whether M. maripaludis under other growth conditions may be able to assemble additional pili-like structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Archaeal Proteins / chemistry
  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Methanococcus / cytology*
  • Methanococcus / genetics
  • Methanococcus / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcriptome


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger

Grant support

This work was funded by a Discovery grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to KFJ. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.