Escherichia coli is a versatile organism capable of causing a variety of intestinal and extraintestinal diseases, as well as existing as part of the commensal flora. A variety of factors permit specific attachment to host receptors including fimbrial adhesins and outer membrane proteins such as autotransporters. One of the better characterized autotransporters is Antigen 43 (Ag43), the major phase-variable surface protein of E. coli. Ag43 is associated with bacterial cell-cell aggregation and biofilm formation. Nevertheless, the precise biological significance and contribution to intestinal colonization remain to be elucidated. Here we investigated the contribution of Ag43 to E. coli adherence to intestinal epithelial cells and colonization of the mouse intestine. These investigations revealed that Ag43 increased in vitro adherence of E. coli to epithelial cells by promoting bacterial cell-cell aggregation but that Ag43 did not promote specific interactions with the mammalian cells. Furthermore, Ag43 did not contribute significantly to colonization of the mouse intestine and expression of Ag43 was lost a few days after colonization of the mouse was established. Unexpectedly, considering its similarity to other adhesins, our findings suggest that Ag43 does not act as a direct colonization factor by binding to mammalian cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology