The surface properties of various isolates associated with diarrhoeal illness were compared by aqueous partitioning between polyethylene glycol (PEG) and Dextran phases. Two well characterised strains of enteropathogenic (EPEC) were found to be very hydrophobic, based on the critical polymer concentration. EPEC strain E2348 cured of the EPEC adherence factor (EAF) plasmid had much reduced surface hydrophobicity. Partitioning of a series of diarrhoeagenic strains demonstrated that the majority of EAF EPEC strains were significantly more hydrophobic than EAF EPEC strains. strains defined as enteroaggregative on the basis of hybridisation with a specific DNA probe showed much greater heterogeneity in their partitioning behaviour, possibly indicating that the AAF/I pili were not expressed in all strains. The K-12 strain used as a transformation host for adhesion studies had very low surface hydrophobicity but had a detectable negative charge. No alteration in these properties was observed when transformed with EPEC and recombinant plasmids known to specify adherence to tissue culture cells.


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