Helix-like bio-polymers can act as effective dampers for bacteria in flows
2012 (English)In: European Biophysics Journal, ISSN 0175-7571, E-ISSN 1432-1017, Vol. 41, no 6, 551-560 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Biopolymers are vital structures for many liv- ing organisms; for a variety of bacteria, adhesion polymers play a crucial role for the initiation of colonization. Some bacteria express, on their surface, attachment organelles (pili) that comprise subunits formed into stiff helix-like structures that possess unique biomechanical properties. These helix-like structures possess a high degree of flexi- bility that gives the biopolymers a unique extendibility. This has been considered beneficial for piliated bacteria adhering to host surfaces in the presence of a fluid flow. We show in this work that helix-like pili have the ability to act as efficient dampers of force that can, for a limited time, lower the load on the force-mediating adhesin-receptor bond on the tip of an individual pilus. The model presented is applied to bacteria adhering with a single pilus of either of the two most common types expressed by uropathogenic Escherichia coli, P or type 1 pili, subjected to realistic flows. The results indicate that for moderate flows (~25 mm/s) the force experienced by the adhesin-receptor interaction at the tip of the pilus can be reduced by a factor of ~6 and ~4, respectively. The uncoiling ability pro- vides a bacterium with a ‘‘go with the flow’’ possibility that acts as a damping. It is surmised that this can be an important factor for the initial part of the adhesion process, in particular in turbulent flows, and thereby be of use for bacteria in their striving to survive a natural defense such as fluid rinsing actions.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2012. Vol. 41, no 6, 551-560 p.
fimbriae, pili, uncoiling, damping, bacterial adhesion
Other Physics Topics Biophysics
Research subject Physics; biology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-54018DOI: 10.1007/s00249-012-0814-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-54018DiVA: diva2:515002