SPI-23 of S. Derby: Role in Adherence and Invasion of Porcine Tissues
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and some strains (Vi+) of serovar Dublin use type IVB pili to facilitate bacterial self-association, but only when the PilV proteins (potential minor pilus proteins) are not synthesized. Pilus-mediated self-association may be important in the pathogenesis of enteric fever. We have shown previously that the extent of DNA supercoiling controls the rate of Rci-catalyzed inversion of a DNA fragment which includes the C-terminal portions of the PilV proteins. This inversion therefore controls PilV synthesis as a high inversion rate prohibits transcription of pilV-encoding DNA. Here, we describe the manner in which PilV protein expression inhibits bacterial self-association and present data which suggest that incorporation of one or a few PilV protein molecules into a growing pilus, comprised of PilS subunits, causes the pilus to detach at the bacterial membrane. The bacteria are then unable to self-associate. We suggest that this phenomenon may be relevant to the pathogenesis of typhoid fever.