The 1.1 MDa cell-wall-associated adhesion protein of staphylococci, Ebh, consists of several distinct regions, including a large central region with 52 imperfect repeats of 126 amino acid residues. We investigated the structure of this giant molecule by X-ray crystallography, circular dichroism (CD) spectrometry, and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The crystal structure of two repeats showed that each repeat consists of two distinct three-helix bundles, and two such repeats are connected along the long axis, resulting in a rod-like structure that is 120 Å in length. CD and SAXS analyses of the samples with longer repeats suggested that each repeat has an identical structure, and that such repeats are connected tandemly to form a rod-like structure in solution, the length of which increased proportionately with the number of repeating units. On the basis of these results, it was proposed that Ebh is a 320 nm rod-like molecule with some plasticity at module junctions.
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