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  • Pawlowski, Rafal; Rajakylä, Eeva; Vartiainen, Maria K.; Treisman, Richard (2010)
  • Megta, Abhin Kumar; Pratap, Shivendra; Kant, Abhiruchi; Palva, Airi; von Ossowski, Ingemar; Krishnan, Vengadesan (2020)
    To successfully colonize a host or environment, certain genera and species of Gram-positive bacteria have evolved to utilize the so-called sortase-dependent pilus, a long multi-subunit and non-flagellar surface adhesin. One example of this is Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, a gut-adapted probiotic strain that produces SpaCBA pili. These structures are covalent hetero-oligomers built from three types of pilin subunit, each with a specific location and function (i.e., backbone SpaA for length, tip SpaC for adhesion, and basal SpaB for anchoring). Functionally, the SpaCBA pilus exhibits a promiscuous affinity for components on intestinal surfaces (e.g., mucus, collagen, and epithelial cells), which is largely attributed to the SpaC subunit. Then again, the basal SpaB pilin, in addition to acting as the terminal subunit during pilus assembly, displays an out of character mucoadhesive function. To address the structural basis of this unusual dual functionality, we reveal the 2.39 A resolution crystal structure of SpaB. SpaB consists of one immunoglobulin-like CnaB domain and contains a putative intermolecular isopeptide bond-linking lysine and internal isopeptide bond-asparagine in an FPKN pilin motif within the C-terminal end. Remarkably, we found that a C-terminal stretch of positively charged lysine and arginine residues likely accounts for the atypical mucoadhesiveness of SpaB. Although harboring an autocatalytic triad of residues for a potential internal isopeptide interaction, the SpaB crystal structure lacked the visible electron density for intact bond formation, yet its presence was subsequently confirmed by mass spectral analysis. Finally, we propose a structural model that captures the exclusive basal positioning of SpaB in the SpaCBA pilus.
  • Mishra, Arjun K.; Megta, Abhin Kumar; Palva, Airi; von Ossowski, Ingemar; Krishnan, Vengadesan (2017)
    SpaE is the predicted basal pilin subunit in the sortase-dependent SpaFED pilus from the gut-adapted and commensal Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. Thus far, structural characterization of the cell-wall-anchoring basal pilins has remained difficult and has been limited to only a few examples from pathogenic genera and species. To gain a further structural understanding of the molecular mechanisms that are involved in the anchoring and assembly of sortase-dependent pili in less harmful bacteria, L. rhamnosus GG SpaE for crystallization was produced by recombinant expression in Escherichia coli. Although several attempts to crystallize the SpaE protein were unsuccessful, trigonal crystals that diffracted to a resolution of 3.1 angstrom were eventually produced using PEG 3350 as a precipitant and high protein concentrations. Further optimization with a combination of additives led to the generation of SpaE crystals in an orthorhombic form that diffracted to a higher resolution of 1.5 angstrom. To expedite structure determination by SAD phasing, selenium-substituted (orthorhombic) SpaE crystals were grown and X-ray diffraction data were collected to 1.8 angstrom resolution.
  • Chaurasia, Priyanka; Pratap, Shivendra; von Ossowski, Ingemar; Palva, Airi; Krishnan, Vengadesan (2016)
    Thus far, all solved structures of pilin-proteins comprising sortase-assembled pili are from pathogenic genera and species. Here, we present the first crystal structure of a pilin subunit (SpaA) from a nonpathogen host (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG). SpaA consists of two tandem CnaB-type domains, each with an isopeptide bond and E-box motif. Intriguingly, while the isopeptide bond in the N-terminal domain forms between lysine and asparagine, the one in the C-terminal domain atypically involves aspartate. We also solved crystal structures of mutant proteins where residues implicated in forming isopeptide bonds were replaced. Expectedly, the E-box-substituted E139A mutant lacks an isopeptide bond in the N-terminal domain. However, the C-terminal E269A substitution gave two structures; one of both domains with their isopeptide bonds present, and another of only the N-terminal domain, but with an unformed isopeptide bond and significant conformational changes. This latter crystal structure has never been observed for any other Gram-positive pilin. Notably, the C-terminal isopeptide bond still forms in D295N-substituted SpaA, irrespective of E269 being present or absent. Although E-box mutations affect SpaA proteolytic and thermal stability, a cumulative effect perturbing normal pilus polymerization was unobserved. A model showing the polymerized arrangement of SpaA within the SpaCBA pilus is proposed.