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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11222

Title: Diversity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Type IV Pilins and Identification of a Novel D-arabinofuranose Post-translational Modification
Authors: Kus, Julianne
Advisor: Burrows, Lori
Cvitkovitch, Dennis
Department: Dentistry
Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa
type IV pili
bacterial protein glycosylation
cystic fibrosis
mass spectrometry
Issue Date: 31-Jul-2008
Abstract: The opportunistic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses type IV pili (T4P) for adherence to, and rapid colonization of, surfaces via twitching motility. T4P are formed from thousands of pilin (PilA) subunits. Two groups of P. aeruginosa pilins were described previously (I and II), distinguished by protein length and sequence. PilA_I was glycosylated with an O-antigen subunit through the action of PilO/TfpO, encoded downstream of pilA_I. To determine if additional pilin variants existed, analysis of the pilin locus of >300 P. aeruginosa strains from a variety of environments was conducted. Three additional pilin alleles were discovered, each of which was invariantly associated with a unique, previously unidentified, downstream gene(s): pilA_III+tfpY, pilAIV+tfpW+tfpX, pilA_V+tfpZ. This survey also revealed that strains with group I T4P were more commonly associated with respiratory infections than strains with other pilins, suggesting that glycosylated T4P may confer a colonization advantage in this environment. The newly identified group IV pilin, represented by strain Pa5196, migrated aberrantly through SDS-PA gels, suggesting it was also glycosylated, a hypothesis confirmed by periodic acid-Schiff staining and mass spectrometry (MS) analyses. Disruption of Pa5196 O-antigen biosynthesis did not prevent the production of glycosylated pilins, demonstrating that these pilins were modified in a novel manner, unlike group I pilins. Using MS, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and site-directed mutagenesis, the Pa5196 pilins were shown to be uniquely modified with homo-oligosaccharides of mycobacterial-like α-1,5-D-arabinofuranose at multiple locations. Residues Thr64 and Thr66, located on the αβ-loop region of the protein, appear to be the preferred, but not exclusive sites of modification, each being modified with up to four D-Araf sugars. This region of the pilin is partially surface-exposed in the pilus, therefore modification of these sites may influence the surface chemistry of the fibre. Residues Ser81, Ser82, Ser85 and Ser89, located in the β-strand region, were also modified, mainly with mono- and disaccharides. Bioinformatic analyses and mutagenesis of TfpW suggest that this novel protein is an arabinosyltransferase necessary for PilA_IV modification. This research has increased our understanding of the complexity of this virulence factor, and may aid in development of new therapeutics for P. aeruginosa and mycobacterial infections.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11222
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Faculty of Dentistry - Doctoral theses

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