Date of this Version
THE JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY VOL. 291, NO. 44, pp. 22924 –22935, DOI 10.1074/jbc.M116.751099
Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative coccobacillus found primarily in hospital settings that has recently emerged as a source of hospital-acquired infections. A. baumannii expresses a variety of virulence factors, including type IV pili, bacterial extracellular appendages often essential for attachment to host cells. Here, we report the high resolution structures of the major pilin subunit, PilA, from three Acinetobacter strains, demonstrating thatA. baumannii subsets produce morphologically distinct type IV pilin glycoproteins. We examine the consequences of this heterogeneity for protein folding and assembly as well as host-cell adhesion by Acinetobacter. Comparisons of genomic and structural data with pilin proteins from other species of soil gammaproteobacteria suggest that these structural differences stem from evolutionary pressure that has resulted in three distinct classes of type IVa pilins, each found in multiple species.