Endospore Appendages: a novel pilus superfamily from the endospores of pathogenic Bacilli

Brajabandhu Pradhan, Janine Liedtke, Mike Sleutel, Toril Lindbäck, Ephrem Debebe Zegeye, Kristin O Sullivan, Ann-Katrin Llarena, Ola Brynildsrud, Marina Aspholm, Han Remaut

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Bacillus cereus sensu lato is a group of Gram-positive endospore-forming bacteria with high ecological diversity. Their endospores are decorated with micrometer-long appendages of unknown identity and function. Here, we isolate endospore appendages (Enas) from the food poisoning outbreak strain B. cereus NVH 0075-95 and find proteinaceous fibers of two main morphologies: S- and L-Ena. By using cryoEM and 3D helical reconstruction of S-Enas, we show these to represent a novel class of Gram-positive pili. S-Enas consist of single domain subunits with jellyroll topology that are laterally stacked by β-sheet augmentation. S-Enas are longitudinally stabilized by disulfide bonding through N-terminal connector peptides that bridge the helical turns. Together, this results in flexible pili that are highly resistant to heat, drought, and chemical damage. Phylogenomic analysis reveals a ubiquitous presence of the ena-gene cluster in the B. cereus group, which include species of clinical, environmental, and food importance. We propose Enas to represent a new class of pili specifically adapted to the harsh conditions encountered by bacterial spores.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere106887
Number of pages16
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number17
Early online date25 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2021

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