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Gene Review

pilT  -  twitching motility protein PilT

Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1

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Disease relevance of pilT

  • Sequencing of this locus revealed a gene with homology to pilT from Pseudomonas Aeruginosa [1].
  • The Myxococcus xanthus pilT locus is required for social gliding motility although pili are still produced [1].
  • However, in contrast to pilT mutants, the pilU mutants had not also acquired resistance to infection by bacteriophage PO4 [2].

High impact information on pilT

  • These results indicate that M. xanthus pilB and pilC are required for pilus biogenesis, while pilT is required for assembled pili to play their role in social motility [1].
  • Two genes flanking pilT were also sequenced, and found to have homology to pilB and pilC from P. aeruginosa [1].
  • A markerless deletion within M. xanthus pilT, similar to the four point mutations, disrupted social gliding behaviour but did not interfere with pilus formation or pilus-dependent cell-cell agglutination [1].
  • Two twitching-motility mutants originally isolated by Bradley, K2.2, and PAO2001.2, which have been widely used in studies of P. aeruginosa fimbrial structure and expression, were also shown to affect pilT and to comprise a small deletion and a frameshift mutation, respectively [2].
  • Both mutants lacking pili (pilA), and those possessing an overabundance of pili (pilT), showed reduced SPR measured attachment compared with the wild-type PAO1 strain [3].

Biological context of pilT

  • SPR revealed differences in the kinetics of attachment between pilA and pilT, differences obscured by endpoint assays using crystal violet stain [3].
  • An open reading frame downstream of the pilT locus encoding a 408-amino-acid protein with 33% identity with the gonococcal PilT protein and 45% identity with the PilU protein in Pseudomonas aeruginosa was characterized, and the corresponding gene was designated pilU [4].

Anatomical context of pilT

  • Others have shown that pilT and pilU mutants, which are piliated but defective in twitching motility, display reduced cytotoxic capacity towards epithelial cells in vitro [5].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of pilT

  • Using time-lapse videomicroscopy, residual social motility was observed in dsp- strains (known to be deficient in fibril but not pilus production); this was not observed in a delta pilT dep- double mutant [1].


  1. The Myxococcus xanthus pilT locus is required for social gliding motility although pili are still produced. Wu, S.S., Wu, J., Kaiser, D. Mol. Microbiol. (1997) [Pubmed]
  2. Characterization of a gene, pilU, required for twitching motility but not phage sensitivity in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Whitchurch, C.B., Mattick, J.S. Mol. Microbiol. (1994) [Pubmed]
  3. Surface plasmon resonance shows that type IV pili are important in surface attachment by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Jenkins, A.T., Buckling, A., McGhee, M., ffrench-Constant, R.H. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface [electronic resource] / the Royal Society. (2005) [Pubmed]
  4. Modification of type IV pilus-associated epithelial cell adherence and multicellular behavior by the PilU protein of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Park, H.S., Wolfgang, M., Koomey, M. Infect. Immun. (2002) [Pubmed]
  5. Twitching motility contributes to the role of pili in corneal infection caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Zolfaghar, I., Evans, D.J., Fleiszig, S.M. Infect. Immun. (2003) [Pubmed]
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