SUMMARY: Sixty strains of belonging to enteropathogenic serogroups (EPEC) were examined for the ability to adhere to HEp-2 cells, the possession of the genes encoding EPEC adherence factor (EAF) and the ability to express an outer-membrane protein (OMP) of 94 kDa thought to be involved in bacterial adhesion to eukaryotic cells. An absolute correlation was found between HEp-2 adhesion and the possession of the genes encoding EAF. An OMP of 94 kDa was observed in the SDS-PAGE profile of most adhesive strains. In some strains this protein was prone to proteolytic degradation. An antiserum raised to a HEp-2 adhesive strain of EPEC did not react with the 94 kDa OMP of all EPEC which were EAF-positive and HEp-2 adhesive, indicating some interstrain antigenic variation of this protein. Although this 94 kDa protein was surface-exposed, specific antibodies binding to the 94 kDa protein in the outer membrane did not interfere with adhesion of EPEC to HEp-2 cells. Therefore, these studies question the value of this protein as a potential vaccine component.


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