Identification and characterization of E. coli type-1 pilus tip adhesion protein

Nature. 1988 Mar 17;332(6161):265-8. doi: 10.1038/332265a0.


The type-1 pilus of Escherichia coli is the prototype of this class of hair-like, multimeric adhesive organelles. This pilus mediates adherence to mannose-containing receptors on mucosal epithelia and other cells. The type-1 pilus, in one of several serological variants, is expressed by nearly all E. coli strains, and its promotion of colonization by pathogenic bacteria and the protective effects of purified pilus vaccines suggest that it is important as a bacterial virulence factor. Both the adhesive function and the serological variation of the type-1 pilus have been attributed to the thousand or so pilin protein monomers making up the pilus rods. This idea has been contradicted by our earlier observations on an E. coli strain expressing adhesion-defective pili. More recent genetic evidence also indicates that auxiliary pilus proteins are required for adhesive function. We report here the identification of three previously undetected integral minor proteins on the type-1 pilus, and show that one of them is the receptor-binding adhesin. This protein is antigenically conserved among strains with different pilin serotypes and is located at the pilus tip.

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis*
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Escherichia coli / analysis*
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / immunology
  • Hemagglutination
  • Immune Sera / immunology
  • Molecular Weight
  • Papain
  • Urea


  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Immune Sera
  • Urea
  • Papain