Summary: This study reports the presence of sialic acid in strains T14V and T14AV. Mild acid hydrolysis of whole organisms released a compound which reacted positively in the periodate-thiobarbituric acid, direct Ehrlich's and resorcinol assays, and which co-chromatographed on paper with authentic -acetylneuraminic acid. Strain T14V contained 10-fold greater concentrations of sialic acid than did strain T14AV. Sialic acid content was dependent upon the stage of growth of the culture, reaching a maximum in early stationary phase. Epifluorescence microscopy of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated agglutinin (LPA), a lectin specific for sialic acid, revealed a uniform distribution of bound lectin on the surfaces of strains T14V and T14AV. Additional evidence for surface localization was obtained by demonstration of whole-cell agglutination of both strains with LPA. All LPA interactions with were inhibited by the presence of 0.1 M--acetylneuraminic acid. Neuraminidases from and did not release detectable amounts of sialic acid, but the extracellular enzyme from cleaved amounts equivalent to those obtained by acid hydrolysis. Other laboratory strains (W1053, M100, W859, 5-5S, RC45, ATCC 19246, and ‘binder’) as well as recent clinical isolates of were agglutinated by LPA and released sialic acid upon mild acid hydrolysis. Surface-available sialic acid has been implicated in the inhibition of alternative complement pathway activation and subsequent opsonophagocytosis. Thus the occurrence of surface sialic acid in may represent a mechanism of pathogenesis for this oral bacterium.


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