Summary: Cells of the oral bacterium CN3410 produce lateral tufts of cell-surface fibrils of two lengths. Treatment of cells with trypsin resulted in loss of the tufts and release of longer fibrils intact. SDS-PAGE analysis of trypsin extracts containing fibrils revealed two groups of high molecular mass polypeptides which were denoted group A (molecular mass 227-246 kDa) and group B (molecular mass 175-208 kDa). Antibodies were raised to these two groups of trypsin-extracted polypeptides (TEPs) and to purified fibrils, and the reactivities of the three different antisera were found to be similar both on nitrocellulose blots of cell-surface polypeptides and in ELISA with whole cells. Similar patterns of TEPs were obtained from cells of a spontaneously derived mutant strain, KP34V, which lacked the short fibril components of tufts. Cells of strain KP34V had similar cell-surface hydrophobicity to strain CN3410 cells, and adhered to the same extent to parotid salivary pellicle or human buccal epithelial cells (BECs) as the wild-type cells. Trypsin treatment of strain CN3410 cells abolished their surface hydrophobicity and ability to adhere to BECs, but did not affect streptococcal cell binding to experimental salivary pellicle. Antibodies to TEPs or fibrils had no effect on cell adhesion to BECs or salivary pellicle. The results imply that the short fibril components of tufts are not involved in the cell adhesion properties tested. It is suggested that the TEPs are components of long fibrils, but they are not determinants of streptococcal cell adhesion to pellicle or to epithelial cells.


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