Human urine interferes with pili and inhibits E.coli attachment to bladder.
IMPORTANCE Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are extremely common infections, frequently caused by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), that are treated with antibiotics but often recur. Therefore, UTI treatment both is complicated by and contributes to bacterial antibiotic resistance. Thus, it is important to understand UTI pathogenesis to devise novel strategies and targets for prevention and treatment. Based on evidence from disease epidemiology and mouse models of infection, UPEC relies heavily on type 1 pili to attach to and invade the bladder epithelium during initial stages of UTI. Here, we demonstrate that the negative effect of planktonic growth in human urine on both the function and expression of type 1 pili is overcome by attachment to bladder epithelial cells, representing a strategy to subvert this alternative innate defense mechanism. Furthermore, this dually inhibitory action of urine is a mechanism shared with recently developed anti-type 1 pilus molecules, highlighting the idea that further development of antivirulence strategies targeting pili may be particularly effective for UPEC.