Action of a minimal contractile bactericidal nanomachine

Peng Ge, Dean Scholl, Nikolai Prokhorov, Jaycob Avaylon, Mikhail M. Shneider, Christopher Browning, Sergey A. Buth, Michel Plattner, Urmi Chakraborty, Ke Ding, Petr G. Leiman, Jeff F. Miller, Z. Hong Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


R-type bacteriocins are minimal contractile nanomachines that hold promise as precision antibiotics1–4. Each bactericidal complex uses a collar to bridge a hollow tube with a contractile sheath loaded in a metastable state by a baseplate scaffold1,2. Fine-tuning of such nucleic acid-free protein machines for precision medicine calls for an atomic description of the entire complex and contraction mechanism, which is not available from baseplate structures of the (DNA-containing) T4 bacteriophage5. Here we report the atomic model of the complete R2 pyocin in its pre-contraction and post-contraction states, each containing 384 subunits of 11 unique atomic models of 10 gene products. Comparison of these structures suggests the following sequence of events during pyocin contraction: tail fibres trigger lateral dissociation of baseplate triplexes; the dissociation then initiates a cascade of events leading to sheath contraction; and this contraction converts chemical energy into mechanical force to drive the iron-tipped tube across the bacterial cell surface, killing the bacterium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-662
Number of pages5
Issue number7805
StatePublished - Apr 30 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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