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Multipili Attachment of Bacteria with Helix–like Pili Exposed to Stress
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Applied Physics and Electronics. (Optical Tweezers Center)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Physics. (Optical Tweezers Center)
2009 (English)In: Journal of Chemical Physics, ISSN 0021-9606, Vol. 130, 235102- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A number of biomechanical properties of various types of pili expressed by Escherichia coli, predominantly their force–vs.–elongation behavior, have previously been assessed in detail on a single pilus level. In vivo, however, bacteria bind in general to host cells by a multitude of pili, which presumably provides them with adhesion properties that differs from those of single pili. Based upon the previously assessed biomechanical properties of individual pili, this work presents a theoretical analysis of the adhesion properties of multipili–attaching bacteria expressing helix–like pili exposed to an external force. Expressions for the adhesion lifetime of dual– and multipili–attaching bacteria are derived and their validity is verified by Monte Carlo simulations. It is shown that the adhesion lifetime of a multipili–binding bacterium depends to a large degree on the cooperativity of the attaching pili, which, in turn, depends strongly on their internal biomechanical properties, in particular their helix–like structure and its ability to elongate, which, in turn, depend on the intrinsic properties of the bonds, e.g. their lengths and activation energies. It is shown, for example, that a decrease in the length of a layer–to–layer bond in the rod of P pili, expressed by E. coli, by 50 % leads to a decrease in the adhesion lifetime of a bacterium attaching by 10 pili and exposed to a force of 500 pN by three orders of magnitude. The results indicate moreover that the intrinsic properties of the rod for this particular type of pili are optimized for multipili attachment under a broad range of external forces and presumably also to its in vivo environment. Even though the results presented in this work apply quantitatively to one type of pilus, they are assumed to apply qualitatively to all helix–like pili systems expressing slip bonds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 130, 235102- p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-21490DOI: 10.1063/1.3148027OAI: diva2:211336
Available from: 2009-04-14 Created: 2009-04-14 Last updated: 2010-03-03
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
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)
Available from: 2009-04-17 Created: 2009-04-14 Last updated: 2009-04-17Bibliographically approved

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