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Biomolecules 2018, 8(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom8010005

The Functional Amyloid Curli Protects Escherichia coli against Complement-Mediated Bactericidal Activity

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA
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Received: 13 December 2017 / Revised: 8 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 24 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Amyloids)
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Abstract

Escherichia coli strains may be beneficial or pathogenic. Many E. coli strains that cause human disease, especially those responsible for bacteremia and sepsis, express virulence factors that impart resistance to the complement system. The bacterial amyloid curli functions in bacterial adherence and enhances the formation of biofilms. Survival of curli-producing parental and curli-deficient mutant E. coli in the context of a human complement response was evaluated using an in vivo murine model of bacteremia. Results showed that curli production enhanced E. coli survival, which suggests that curli defends against complement-mediated killing. This observation was supported by the results of in vitro assays comparing bacterial survival in human serum. Experiments in which the classical or alternative complement pathways were blocked indicated that the classical pathway is the major contributor to complement activation and that curli inhibits this activity. Our analyses indicate that curli does not appear to play a role in protecting E. coli against alternative pathway complement activation. We found that curli increases binding of E. coli cells to complement component Complement component 1q (C1q) but does not affect Complement component 3b (C3b) binding. We conclude that curli defends E. coli against complement-mediated killing via inhibition of the classical complement pathway. View Full-Text
Keywords: curli; complement; amyloid curli; complement; amyloid
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Biesecker, S.G.; Nicastro, L.K.; Wilson, R.P.; Tükel, Ç. The Functional Amyloid Curli Protects Escherichia coli against Complement-Mediated Bactericidal Activity. Biomolecules 2018, 8, 5.

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