The adhesive PitA pilus protein from the early dental plaque colonizer Streptococcus oralis: expression, purification, crystallization and X-ray diffraction analysis.

Streptococcus oralis is an early colonizer of dental plaque or oral biofilm that can damage our tooth enamel and gums, and cause dental caries (tooth decay). This opportunistic pathogen is often implicated in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. The adhesin present at the tip of pili (or fimbriae), the hair-like surface appendages on the early-colonizer bacteria, have been shown to play a crucial role in mediating attachment to the host and other bacterial cells during biofilm formation. A recombinant form of a large size (∼100 kDa) pilus adhesin PitA from S.oralis has been crystallized to obtain its three-dimensional structure and reveal the structural basis of the interaction between the adhesive pilus tip and host cells or other bacteria during dental plaque biofilm formation. The structural knowledge can provide a foundation for designing and developing anti-adhesive strategies to control biofilm formation and combat infections.

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