"Pili, Sex" is a descriptor in the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus,
MeSH (Medical Subject Headings). Descriptors are arranged in a hierarchical structure,
which enables searching at various levels of specificity.
Filamentous or elongated proteinaceous structures which extend from the cell surface in gram-negative bacteria that contain certain types of conjugative plasmid. These pili are the organs associated with genetic transfer and have essential roles in conjugation. Normally, only one or a few pili occur on a given donor cell. (From Singleton & Sainsbury, Dictionary of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, 2d ed, p675) This preferred use of "pili" refers to the sexual appendage, to be distinguished from bacterial fimbriae (FIMBRIAE, BACTERIAL), also known as common pili, which are usually concerned with adhesion.
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