In Microbiology (Reading, England)
Type 4 filaments (T4F) are a superfamily of filamentous nanomachines - virtually ubiquitous in prokaryotes and functionally versatile - of which type 4 pili (T4P) are the defining member. T4F are polymers of type 4 pilins, assembled by conserved multi-protein machineries. They have long been an important topic for research because they are key virulence factors in numerous bacterial pathogens. Our poor understanding of the molecular mechanisms of T4F assembly is a serious hindrance to the design of anti-T4F therapeutics. This review attempts to shed light on the fundamental mechanistic principles at play in T4F assembly by focusing on similarities rather than differences between several (mostly bacterial) T4F. This holistic approach, complemented by the revolutionary ability of artificial intelligence to predict protein structures, led to an intriguing mechanistic model of T4F assembly.
nanomachines, pili, pilin, type 2 secretion systems, type 4 filaments, type 4 pili