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Journal of Bacteriology


The toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP) is one of the major virulence factors of Vibrio cholerae. Biogenesis of this type 4 pilus (Tfp) requires a number of structural components encoded by the tcp operon. TcpT, the cognate putative ATPase, is required for TCP biogenesis and all TCP-mediated functions. We studied the stability and localization of TcpT in cells containing in-frame deletions in each of the tcp genes. TcpT was detectable in each of the biogenesis mutants except the ΔtcpT strain. TcpT was localized to the inner membrane (IM) in a TcpR-dependent manner. TcpR is a predicted bitopic inner membrane protein of the TCP biogenesis apparatus. Using metal affinity pull-down experiments, we demonstrated interaction between TcpT and TcpR. Using Escherichia coli as a heterologous system, we investigated direct interaction between TcpR and TcpT. We report that TcpR is sufficient for TcpT IM localization per se; however, stable IM localization of TcpT requires an additional V. cholerae-specific factor(s). A LexA-based two-hybrid system was utilized to define interaction domains of the two proteins. We demonstrate a strong interaction between the cytoplasmic domain of TcpR and the N-terminal 100 amino acid residues of TcpT. We also demonstrated the ability of the C-terminal domain of TcpT to multimerize.