Type IV pili (T4P) are thin protein fibres that extend from the poles of the cell and are used for attachment and surface-associatedtwitching motility. Twitching motility allows bacteria to rapidly colonize new territory.
Using molecular and biochemical approaches, we investigate the mechanisms underlying twitching motility. There are many proteins involved in this process, and we focus on those involved in pilus assembly and function. In collaboration with the Howell labat the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, ON, we are working on solving the structuresof many of the key pilus assembly proteins.
We are also interested in overlap between the type IV pilus system and the type II secretion system, which are evolutionarily related and made of similar but not identical components. Toxins that are released from Pseudomonascells by type II secretion include elastase, exotoxin A, lipases and a hemolytic phospholipase.