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SUMMARY

Type IV pilin (PilA) is a major constituent of pilus and is required for bacterial biofilm formation, surface motility and virulence. It is known that mature PilA is produced by cleavage of the short leader sequence of the pilin precursor, followed by methylation of N-terminal phenylalanine. The molecular mass of the PilA mature protein from the tobacco bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tabaci 6605 (Pta 6605) has been predicted to be 12 329 Da from its deduced amino acid sequence. Previously, we have detected PilA as an approximately 13-kDa protein by immunoblot analysis with anti-PilA-specific antibody. In addition, we found the putative oligosaccharide-transferase gene tfpO downstream of pilA. These findings suggest that PilA in Pta 6605 is glycosylated. The defective mutant of tfpOtfpO) shows reductions in pilin molecular mass, surface motility and virulence towards host tobacco plants. Thus, pilin glycan plays important roles in bacterial motility and virulence. The genetic region around pilA was compared among P. syringae pathovars. The tfpO gene exists in some strains of pathovars tabaci, syringae, lachrymans, mori, actinidiae, maculicola and P. savastanoi pv. savastanoi. However, some strains of pathovars tabaci, syringae, glycinea, tomato, aesculi and oryzae do not possess tfpO, and the existence of tfpO is independent of the classification of pathovars/strains in P. syringae. Interestingly, the PilA amino acid sequences in tfpO-possessing strains show higher homology with each other than with tfpO-nonpossessing strains. These results suggest that tfpO and pilA might co-evolve in certain specific bacterial strains.