Type IV pilus assembly and function

Twitching motility arises from the assembly and disassembly of type IV pili at the inner membrane.  Although most of the proteins involved in pilus biogenesis have been identified, their functions are not well understood.  Our goal is to figure out how the various components of the system fit together to build this complex nanomachine.

Questions we are interested in include:

  • How is the pilus assembled across the cell envelope including the peptidoglycan layer?
  • How does the pilus stick to many different surfaces?
  • What is the mechanism of pilus extension and retraction?
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