Crash landing of Vibrio cholerae by MSHA pili-assisted braking and anchoring in a viscoelastic environment

Wenchao Zhang, Mei Luo, Chunying Feng, Rachel R Bennett, Andrew S Utada, Zhi Liu, Kun Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


Mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin (MSHA) pili and flagellum are critical for the surface attachment of Vibrio cholerae, the first step of V. cholerae colonization on host surfaces. However, the cell landing mechanism remains largely unknown, particularly in viscoelastic environments such as the mucus layers of intestines. Here, combining the cysteine-substitution-based labeling method with single-cell tracking techniques, we quantitatively characterized the landing of V. cholerae by directly observing both pili and flagellum of cells in a viscoelastic non-Newtonian solution consisting of 2% Luria-Bertani and 1% methylcellulose (LB+MC). The results show that MSHA pili are evenly distributed along the cell length and can stick to surfaces at any point along the filament. With such properties, MSHA pili are observed to act as a brake and anchor during cell landing which includes three phases: running, lingering, and attaching. Importantly, loss of MSHA pili results in a more dramatic increase in mean path length in LB+MC than in 2% LB only or in 20% Ficoll solutions, indicating that the role of MSHA pili during cell landing is more apparent in viscoelastic non-Newtonian fluids than viscous Newtonian ones. Our work provides a detailed picture of the landing dynamics of V. cholerae under viscoelastic conditions, which can provide insights into ways to better control V. cholerae infections in a real mucus-like environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60655
Number of pages20
Early online date2 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021


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