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Title: Structure of the Type IVa Major Pilin from the Electrically Conductive Bacterial Nanowires of Geobacter sulfurreducens

Several species of bacteria are capable of reducing insoluble metal oxides as well as other extracellular electron acceptors. These bacteria play a critical role in the cycling of minerals in subsurface environments, sediments, and groundwater. In some species of bacteria, such as Geobacter sulfurreducens, the transport of electrons is facilitated by filamentous fibers that are referred to as bacterial nanowires. These nanowires belong to the type IVa family of pilin proteins and are mainly comprised of one subunit protein, PilA. Here, we report the high resolution solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) structure of the PilA protein from G. sulfurreducens determined in detergent micelles. The protein is over 85% α-helical and exhibits similar architecture to the N-terminal regions of other non-conductive type IVa pilins. The detergent micelle interacts with the first 21 amino acids of the protein, indicating that this region likely associates with the bacterial inner membrane prior to fiber formation. A model of the G. sulfurreducens pilus fiber is proposed based on docking of this structure into the fiber model of the type IVa pilin from Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This model provides insight into the organization of aromatic amino acids that are important for electrical conduction.
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
47725; 47842; KP1704020
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288(41):29260-29266
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
NMR; type IVa pilin; Geobacter sulfurreducens; bacterial nanowire; extracellular electron transport; membrane; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory