Molecular analysis of the UV-inducible pili operon from Sulfolobus acidocaldarius

Authors

  • Marleen van Wolferen,

    1. Molecular Biology of Archaea, Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany
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  • Małgorzata Ajon,

    1. Department of Molecular Microbiology, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • Arnold J. M. Driessen,

    1. Department of Molecular Microbiology, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • Sonja-Verena Albers

    Corresponding author
    1. Molecular Biology of Archaea, Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany
    • Correspondence

      Sonja-Verena Albers, Molecular Biology of Archaea, Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology, Karl-von-Frisch-Strasse 10, 35043 Marburg, Germany. Tel: +496421178426; Fax: +496421178429; E-mail: albers@mpi-marburg.mpg.de

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Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 5, Issue 6, 1085, Article first published online: 8 December 2016

Abstract

Upon ultraviolet (UV) stress, hyperthermophilic Sulfolobus species show a highly induced transcription of a gene cluster responsible for pili biogenesis: the UV-inducible pili operon (ups operon). This operon is involved in UV-induced pili assembly, cellular aggregation, and subsequent DNA exchange between cells. As the system increases the fitness of Sulfolobus cells after UV light exposure, we assume that transfer of DNA takes place in order to repair UV-induced DNA damages via homologous recombination. Here, we studied all genes present in the ups cluster via gene deletion analysis with a focus on UpsX, a protein that shows no identifiable functional domains. UspX does not seem to be structurally essential for UV-induced pili formation and cellular aggregation, but appears to be important for efficient DNA transfer. In addition, we could show that pilin subunits UpsA and UpsB probably both function as major pilin subunits in the ups pili.

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