Cryo-EM structure of the Type IV pilus extension ATPase from enteropathogenic Escherichia coli

Read the full article


Type 4 pili (T4P) are retractable surface appendages found on numerous bacteria and archaea that play essential roles in various microbial functions, including host colonization by pathogens. An ATPase is required for T4P extension, but the mechanism by which chemical energy is transduced to mechanical energy for pilus extension has not been elucidated. Here we report the cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of the BfpD ATPase from enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) in the presence of either ADP or a mixture of ADP and AMP-PNP. Both structures, solved at 3 Å resolution, reveal the typical toroid shape of AAA+ ATPases and unambiguous six-fold symmetry. This six-fold symmetry contrasts with the two-fold symmetry previously reported for other T4P extension ATPase structures, all of which were from thermophiles and solved by crystallography. In the presence of the nucleotide mixture, BfpD bound exclusively AMP-PNP and this binding resulted in a modest outward expansion in comparison to the structure in the presence of ADP, suggesting a concerted model for hydrolysis. De novo molecular models reveal a partially open configuration of all subunits where the nucleotide binding site may not be optimally positioned for catalysis. ATPase functional studies reveal modest activity similar to that of other extension ATPases, while calculations indicate that this activity is insufficient to power pilus extension. Our results reveal that, despite similarities in primary sequence and tertiary structure, T4P extension ATPases exhibit divergent quaternary configurations. Our data raise new possibilities regarding the mechanism by which T4P extension ATPases power pilus formation.

Article activity feed