Extracellular non-flagellar appendages, called pili or fimbriae, are widespread in gram-negative bacteria. They are involved in many different functions, including motility, adhesion, biofilm formation, and uptake of DNA. Sequencing data for a large number of cyanobacterial genomes revealed that most of them contain genes for pili synthesis. However, only for a very few cyanobacteria structure and function of these appendages have been analyzed. Here, we review the structure and function of type IV pili in Synechocystis
sp. PCC 6803 and analyze the distribution of type IV pili associated genes in other cyanobacteria. Further, we discuss the role of the RNA-chaperone Hfq in pilus function and the presence of genes for the chaperone-usher pathway of pilus assembly in cyanobacteria.
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