Structural and functional characterization of Group B Streptococcus pilus 2b

Lazzarin, Maddalena (2015) Structural and functional characterization of Group B Streptococcus pilus 2b, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia cellulare e molecolare, 27 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6815.
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Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a Gram-positive human pathogen representing one of the most common causes of life-threatening bacterial infections such as sepsis and meningitis in neonates. Covalently polymerized pilus-like structures have been discovered in GBS as important virulence factors as well as vaccine candidates. Pili are protein polymers forming long and thin filamentous structures protruding from bacterial cells, mediating adhesion and colonization to host cells. Gram-positive bacteria, including GBS, build pili on their cell surface via a class C sortase-catalyzed transpeptidation mechanism from pilin protein substrates that are the backbone protein forming the pilus shaft and two ancillary proteins. Also the cell-wall anchoring of the pilus polymers made of covalently linked pilin subunits is mediated by a sortase enzyme. GBS expresses three structurally distinct pilus types (type 1, 2a and 2b). Although the mechanisms of assembly and cell wall anchoring of GBS types 1 and 2a pili have been investigated, those of pilus 2b are not understood until now. Pilus 2b is frequently found in ST-17 strains that are mostly associated with meningitis and high mortality rate especially in infants. In this work the assembly mechanism of GBS pilus type 2b has been elucidated by dissecting through genetic, biochemical and structural studies the role of the two pilus-associated sortases. The most significant findings show that pilus 2b assembly appears “non-canonical”, differing significantly from current pilus assembly models in Gram-positive pathogens. Only sortase-C1 is involved in pilin polymerization, while the sortase-C2 does not act as a pilin polymerase, but it is involved in cell-wall pilus anchoring. Our findings provide new insights into pili biogenesis in Gram-positive bacteria. Moreover, the role of this pilus type during host infection has been investigated. By using a mouse model of meningitis we demonstrated that type 2b pilus contributes to pathogenesis of meningitis in vivo.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Lazzarin, Maddalena
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze biologiche, biomediche e biotecnologiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Group B Streptococcus, pilus, sortase, structural characterization, in vivo meningitis model
Data di discussione
10 Aprile 2015

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