The mechanism of adhesion of strain 737 to mouse stomach squamous epithelium was investigated. Adhesion inhibition tests involving chelators, monosaccharides, periodate and concanavalin A and the use of bacteria grown in the presence of tunicamycin failed to clarify the adhesive mechanism. Washed bacterial cells had reduced adhesive capacity, except in the presence of spent broth culture supernatant fraction or cell washings. Spent culture supernatant fractions of erythrosine-supplemented broth did not enhance adhesion of washed cells. The adhesion-promoting factor(s) in the spent broth culture supernatant fractions and cell washings bound to both bacterial and epithelial cell surfaces, but did not promote adhesion of two other strains which were not of mouse origin, thereby indicating host specificity for the adhesion-promoting activity. Chemical characteristics of the adhesion-promoting factor were determined by pretreatment of the dialysis retentate of spent broth culture supernatant fractions with proteolytic enzymes, concanavalin A-Sepharose or periodate before the adhesion assay. The adhesin was non-dialysable, pronase-sensitive, heat sensitive at 100 °C, had no affinity for concanavalin A-Sepharose and contained no carbohydrate groups active in the adhesion process. The protein profiles of dialysis retentates of spent broth culture supernatant fractions after bacterial growth in the absence and presence of erythrosine were determined by 2-dimensional SDS-PAGE. Gel filtration by HPLC was used for purification of an adhesion-promoting fraction. The host-specific adhesion of strain 737 was mediated by a protein, with an of 12-13000, that was not detectable in cells grown in the presence of erythrosine. A model for the mode of binding of the adhesin to host epithelia and bacterial surfaces is proposed.


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