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Characterization of the Biomechanical Properties of T4 Pili Expressed by Streptococcus pneumoniae – A Comparison between Helix-like and Open Coil-like Pili
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. (Optical Tweezers Center)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. (Optical Tweezers Center)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. (Optical Tweezers Center)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. (Optical Tweezers Center)
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2009 (English)In: ChemPhysChem, ISSN 1439-4235, E-ISSN 1439-7641, Vol. 10, no 9-10, 1533-1540 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Bacterial adhesion organelles, known as fimbria or pili, are expressed by Gram–positive as well as Gram–negative bacteria families. These appendages play a key role in the first steps of the invasion and infection processes, and they therefore provide bacteria with pathogenic abilities. To improve the knowledge of pili-mediated bacterial adhesion to host cells and how these pili behave under the presence of an external force, we first characterize, using force measuring optical tweezers, open coil-like T4 pili expressed by Gram–positive Streptococcus pneumoniae with respect to their biomechanicalproperties. It is shown that their elongation behavior can be well described by the worm-like chain model and that they possess a large degree of flexibility. Their properties are then compared with those of helix-like pili expressed by Gram–negative uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), which have different pili architecture. The differences suggest that these two types of pili have distinctly dissimilar mechanisms to adhere and sustain external forces. Helix-like pili expressed by UPEC bacteria adhere to host cells by single adhesins located at the distal end of the pili while their helix-like structures act as shock absorbers to dampen the irregularly shear forces induced by urine flow and to increase the cooperativity of the pili ensemble. Open coil-like pili expressed by S. pneumoniae adhere to cells by a multitude of adhesins distributed along the pili. It is hypothesized that these two types of pili represent different strategies of adhering to host cells in the presence of external forces. When exposed to significant forces, bacteria expressing helix-like pili remain attached bydistributing the external force among a multitude of pili, whereas bacteria expressing open coil-like pili sustain large forces primarily by their multitude of binding adhesins.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 10, no 9-10, 1533-1540 p.
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-21489DOI: 10.1002/cphc.200900195ISI: 000267928100027PubMedID: 19565578OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-21489DiVA: diva2:211334
Available from: 2009-04-14 Created: 2009-04-14 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. A study of bacterial adhesion on a single-cell level by means of force measuring optical tweezers and simulations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A study of bacterial adhesion on a single-cell level by means of force measuring optical tweezers and simulations
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The intriguing world of microbiology is nowadays accessible for detailed exploration at a single–molecular level. Optical tweezers are a novel instrument that allows for non–invasive manipulation of single cells by the sole use of laser light and operates on the nano– and micrometer scale which corresponds to the same length scale as living cells. Moreover, forces within the field of microbiology are typically in the picoNewton range which is in accordance with the capability of force measuring optical tweezers systems. Both these conformabilities imply that force measuring optical tweezers is suitable for studies of single living cells. This thesis focuses on the mechanisms of bacterial attachments to host cells which constitute the first step in bacterial infection processes. Bacteria bind specifically to host receptors by means of adhesins that are expressed either directly on the bacterial membrane or on micrometer–long adhesion organelles that are called pili. The properties of single adhesin–receptor bonds that mediate adherence of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori are first examined at various acidities. Further on, biomechanical properties of P pili expressed by Escherichia coli are presented to which computer simulations, that capture the complex kinetics of the pili structure and precisely replicate measured data, are applied. Simulations are found to be a powerful tool for investigations of adhesive attributes of binding systems and are utilized in the analyses of the specific binding properties of P pili on a single–pilus level. However, bacterial binding systems generally involve a multitude of adhesin–receptor bonds. To explore bacterial attachments, the knowledge from single–pilus studies is brought into a full multipili attachment scenario which is analyzed by means of theoretical treatments and simulations. The results are remarkable in several aspects. Not only is it found that the intrinsic properties of P pili are composed in an optimal combination to promote strong multipili bindings. The properties of the pili structure itself are also found to be optimized with respect to its in vivo environment. Indeed, the true meaning of the attributes derived at a single–pilus level cannot be unraveled until a multipili–binding system is considered. Whereas detailed studies are presented for the helix–like P pili expressed by Gram–negative Escherichia coli, conceptual studies are presented for the open coil–like T4 pili expressed by Gram–positive Streptococcus pneumoniae. The structural and adhesive properties of these two types of pili differ considerably. These dissimilarities have far–reaching consequences on the adhesion possibilities at both single–pilus and multipili levels which are discussed qualitatively. Moreover, error analyses of conventional data processing methods in dynamic force spectroscopy as well as development of novel analysis methods are presented. These findings provide better understanding of how to perform refined force measurements on single adhesion organelles as well as how to improve the analyses of measurement data to obtain accurate parameter values of biomechanical entities. In conclusion, this thesis comprises a study of bacterial adhesion organelles and the way they cooperate to establish efficient attachment systems that can successfully withstand strong external forces that acts upon bacteria. Such systems can resist, for instance, rinsing effects and thereby allow bacteria to colonize their host. By understanding the complexity, and thereby possible weaknesses, of bacterial attachments, new targets for combating bacterial infections can be identified.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Print & Media, 2009. 108 p.
National Category
Physical Sciences
Research subject
Physics; cellforskning; Molecular Cellbiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-21493 (URN)978-91-7264-765-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-05-08, N420, Naturvetarhuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
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Available from: 2009-04-17 Created: 2009-04-14 Last updated: 2009-04-17Bibliographically approved

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Castelain, MickaëlKoutris, EfstratiosAndersson, MagnusWiklund, KristerBjörnham, OscarSchedin, StaffanAxner, Ove
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