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J Infect Dis. 2011 Oct 1;204(7):1065-74. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir459.

Haemophilus influenzae protein E binds to the extracellular matrix by concurrently interacting with laminin and vitronectin.

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  • 1Medical Microbiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine Malmö, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden.


Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) causes otitis media and is commonly found in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Adhesins are important for bacterial attachment and colonization. Protein E (PE) is a recently characterized ubiquitous 16 kDa adhesin with vitronectin-binding capacity that results in increased survival in serum. In addition to PE, NTHi utilizes Haemophilus adhesion protein (Hap) that binds to the basement-membrane glycoprotein laminin. We show that most clinical isolates bind laminin and that both Hap and PE are crucial for the NTHi-dependent interaction with laminin as revealed with different mutants. The laminin-binding region is located at the N-terminus of PE, and PE binds to the heparin-binding C-terminal globular domain of laminin. PE simultaneously attracts vitronectin and laminin at separate binding sites, proving the multifunctional nature of the adhesin. This previously unknown PE-dependent interaction with laminin may contribute to NTHi colonization, particularly in smokers with COPD.

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