Selection and characterization of a SpaCBA pilus-secreting food-grade derivative of Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus GG

Hanne L.P. Tytgat, Pia Rasinkangas, Jarmo Ritari, Justus Reunanen, Steven Aalvink, Chia Wei Lin, Airi Palva, François P. Douillard, Willem M. de Vos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many studies have established the functional properties of Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus GG, previously known as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, marketed worldwide as a probiotic. The extraordinary capacity of L. rhamnosus GG to bind to human mucus and influence the immune system especially stand out. Earlier, we have shown the key role of its SpaCBA sortase-dependent pili encoded by the spaCBA-srtC1 gene cluster herein. These heterotrimeric pili consist of a shaft pilin SpaA, a basal pilin SpaB, and tip pilin SpaC that contains a mucus-binding domain. Here, we set out to characterize a food-grade non-GMO mutant of L. rhamnosus GG, strain PA11, which secretes its pilins, rather than coupling them to the cell surface, due to a defect in the housekeeping sortase A. The sortase-negative strain PA11 was extensively characterized using functional genomics and biochemical approaches and found to secrete the SpaCBA pili into the supernatant. Given the functional importance and uniqueness of the mucus-binding pili of L. rhamnosus GG, strain PA11 offers novel opportunities towards the characterization and further therapeutic application of SpaCBA pili and their low-cost, large-scale production. Key points: •Creation of pilus-secreting mutant (PA11) of the key probiotic LGG. •Strain PA11 is defective in a functional housekeeping sortase SrtA. •Strain PA11 opens novel biotherapeutic application avenues. Graphical abstract[Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1131
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021


  • L. rhamnosus GG
  • Non-GMO derivative
  • Pili
  • Pilus biogenesis

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