A single filament biomechanical study of the enteropathogenic Escherichia coli Type III secretion system reveals a high elastic aspect ratio

Moran Elias-Mordechai, Nofar David, Sonia Oren, Maya Georgia Pelah, Jürgen Jopp, Boris Fichtman, Amnon Harel, Ronen Berkovich, Neta Sal-Man

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Type III secretion systems (T3SSs) are syringe-like protein complexes used by some of the most harmful bacterial pathogens to infect host cells. While the T3SS filament, a long hollow conduit that bridges between bacteria and host cells, has been characterized structurally, very little is known about its physical properties. These filaments should endure shear and normal stresses imposed by the viscous mucosal flow during infection within the intestinal tract. We used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to probe the longitudinal and radial mechanical response of individual T3SS filaments by pulling on filaments extending directly from bacterial surfaces and later pressing into filaments that were detached from the bacteria. The measured longitudinal elastic moduli were higher by about two orders of magnitude than the radial elastic moduli. These proportions are commensurate with the role of the T3SS filament, which requires horizontal flexibility while maintaining its structural integrity to withstand intense stresses during infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15027-15037
Number of pages11
JournalNanoscale
Volume15
Issue number36
DOIs
StatePublished - 21 Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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