Adherence of cells to eukaryotic cell monolayers was quantified using the Bertholet assay to monitor ammonia produced from urea by ureaplasma urease. Adherence was abolished by pre-treatment of ureaplasmas with HeLa cell extracts and inhibited to varying degrees by pre-treatment of the ureaplasmas with -acetylneuraminic acid, specific antisera and monoclonal antibodies. The data suggest the presence of several ureaplasma adhesins, some of which are species- or serotype-specific and some of which are proteinaceous and antigenic. The serotype-8-specific 96 kDa surface-expressed antigen may be one adhesin. Pre-treatment of HeLa cell monolayers with neuraminidase significantly reduced ureaplasma adherence and, using a novel ‘immunoblot adherence assay’, ureaplasmas were shown to bind to a number of HeLa cell components, three of which appear to terminate in sialic acid.


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