Summary Spatial organization of bacterial proteins influences many cellular processes, including division, chromosome segregation and motility. Virulence-associated proteins also localize to specific destinations within bacterial cells. However, the functions and mechanisms of virulence factor localization remain largely unknown. In this work, we demonstrate that polar assembly of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 type IV pilus is regulated by surface association in a manner that affects gene transcription, protein levels and protein localization. We also uncover one mechanism for this regulation that acts through the actin homologue MreB. Inactivation of MreB leads to mislocalization of the pilus retraction ATPase PilT, mislocalization of the pili themselves and a reduction in motility. Furthermore, the role of MreB in polar localization of PilT is modulated by surface association, corroborating our results that environmental factors influence the regulation of pilus production. Specifically, MreB mediates both the initiation and maintenance of PilT localization when cells are grown in suspension but only affects the initiation of localization when cells are grown on a surface. Together, these results suggest that the bacterial cytoskeleton provides a mechanism for the polar localization of P. aeruginosa pili and demonstrate that protein localization may represent an important aspect of virulence factor regulation in bacterial pathogens.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology