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Infect Immun. 1990 Mar;58(3):794-800.

Characterization of binding of Escherichia coli strains which are enteropathogens to small-bowel mucin.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.


Before an enteropathogen binds to the small bowel, it must interact with the small-bowel mucus (SBM) layer. To determine whether this interaction involves specific binding of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli, we used a quantitative assay with labeled, purified rabbit SBM. Binding of SBM from an adult rabbit was significantly greater to strain 162, an agglutinating E. coli strain, than it was to RDEC-1, a rabbit pathogen, and was significantly greater to strain 2348/PMAR, an enteropathogenic E. coli strain, than it was to strains 1392+ and 1392-, which are enterotoxigenic E. coli strains with and without colonizing fimbriae, respectively. Binding of strains RDEC-1, 2348/PMAR, and 162-4 was significantly greater to SBM than to bovine serum albumin. Binding of all strains increased in a linear fashion with increasing amounts of SBM and was reproducible (r = 0.85). Binding was significantly greater at pH 5.7 than at pH 7.4 or 8.0 for all five strains. Temperature did not alter the binding of any strain. Strains 162-4 and RDEC-1 bound significantly more to proximal SBM than to rabbit distal SBM, while strains 1392+ and 1392- bound significantly more to distal SBM. Oxidation of sugars from SBM significantly decreased the binding of all strains. Each pathogenic E. coli strain bound distinctively to SBM; the SBM sugars appeared to mediate this binding for all E. coli strains. Binding was also dependent on mucin characteristics, as binding varied by region of the gut (increased for proximal SBM for strains 162-4 and RDEC-1 and for distal SBM for strains 1392+ and 1392-). The developmental age of the gut significantly affected binding only of the rabbit pathogen RDEC-1.

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