Functional expression of heterologous type 4 fimbriae in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Gene. 1996 Oct 10;175(1-2):143-50. doi: 10.1016/0378-1119(96)00140-0.


Type 4 fimbriae are surface organelles produced by a wide range of bacterial pathogens. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa they are associated with a form of surface translocation known as twitching motility and have also been implicated as the receptor for a number of fimbrial-specific bacteriophages. The infrastructural machinery required for type 4 fimbrial biogenesis appears to be conserved as heterologous subunits from other species can be expressed in P. aeruginosa. All of these studies have, until now, been performed in non-functional Pseudomonas host strains which lack twitching motility. We have constructed isogenic mutants of two commonly studied wild-type P. aeruginosa strains, PAK and PAO1, by replacing the entire pilA gene which encodes the fimbrial subunit. Fimbrial expression and twitching motility were restored by complementation in trans with either the homologous or heterologous subunits from these strains, as well as that from another type 4 fimbriate species, Dichelobacter nodosus. The expression of different subunits allowed us to investigate the precise role that the individual subunit proteins contribute to bacteriophage infection by several fimbrial-specific bacteriophages. Sensitivity to bacteriophages B3cts and D3112cts was restored by the expression of any fimbrial subunit in both PAO1 and PAK cells, indicating that infection by these bacteriophages is fimbrial dependent but not fimbrial specific. In contrast, while sensitivity to the PAK-specific bacteriophage PO4 was restored by the expression of any fimbrial subunit in PAK cells, this did not occur in PAO1 cells except when expressing the PAK subunit. In all cases, the presence of fimbriae was absolutely required to allow a productive bacteriophage infection to occur.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Fimbriae Proteins*
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / immunology
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Pseudomonas Phages / pathogenicity*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / ultrastructure*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / virology
  • Transformation, Bacterial


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fimbriae Proteins