After yesterday’s post it’s no secret anymore that I’m interested (among other things) in oligomeric prokaryotic proteins. I often browse recent additions at PDB and see if there’s a new, exciting and pretty (symmetric) structure deposited. A week ago a picture similar to this below drew my attention.
This nice ring of helices is a model of the molecular needle of type III secretion system (T3SS). This system is used by many bacterial species during an infection: attaching to the host cell is followed by a insertion of a needle into the host cell and transporting effector proteins directly into that cell. The model here is a combination of the crystal structure of the single subunit and 3D reconstruction of the needle from electron microscopy.
I believe that next years will bring more full atom models of important cell structures. It can be seen directly from the publications: certain research groups are solving structures of missing elements of the large protein complexes, one by one. The model above is for sure a one step closer to having the whole T3SS, including cytoplasmic, transmembrane and extracellular parts at a atomic resolution.
The paper about this model was published last year in PNAS (free access) by Janet E. Deane and Pietro Roversi et al. The model is deposited in the PDB as 2V6L. PubMed ID for the abstract is: 16888041.