UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


Date of this Version

Spring 4-14-2020

Document Type



Poster presentation, UCARE Research Fair, Spring 2020, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright 2020 by the authors.


Bacteria infect host cells through several mechanisms, one of which is a surface protein called a type IV pilus. Type IV pili are thin, hair-like protein fibers on the bacterial surface capable of being extended and retracted from a bacterial cell; they are used for functions including motility, biofilm formation, and adherence to host cells. Clostridium perfringens is a Gram-positive bacterium best known as a food pathogen that is believed to use type IV pili for host cell adherence. These pili are poorly characterized and understanding how C. perfringens uses type IV pili will provide a model for how these pili are used in similar Clostridia species. This project has produced crystals of the PilA2 pilin protein from C. perfringens that can diffract with X-ray crystallography, though these crystals did not diffract with enough resolution for structure elucidation. Pending the production of crystals with better diffraction, this diffraction data will be used to solve the structure of the pilin protein and construct a model of type IV pili in C. perfringens.