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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 1998 Jun;13(3):129-38.

The importance of fimbriae in the virulence and ecology of some oral bacteria.

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Department of Oral Microbiology, Osaka University Faculty of Dentistry, Japan.


Cumulative evidence indicates that bacterial adherence to mucosal and tooth surfaces as well as bacterial coaggregation are essential steps for colonization of various oral bacterial species. Bacterial fimbriae have been shown to play an important role in the interaction between bacteria and host cells or among bacterial cells. The properties of fimbriae from selected species of oral bacteria are discussed in terms of virulence traits and ecological significance. Among others, Porphyromonas gingivalis fimbriae have been most extensively studied. The fimbrial structure is composed of 41-kDa fimbrillin proteins. DNA sequencing of the fimbrillin gene (fimA) from nine strains of P. gingivalis suggests intraspecies variation in the structure of fimA, while retaining common immunochemical specificities. P. gingivalis fimbriae exhibit a wide variety of biological activities including immunogenicity, binding to various host proteins, stimulation of cytokine production and promotion of bone resorption, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans also possesses fimbriae; however, little is known concerning their chemical, genetical, and biological properties. Fimbriae of Prevotella intermedia are shown to induce hemagglutination reaction, while those of Prevotella loescheii are found to cause coaggregation with other bacteria, i.e., Actinomyces viscosus and sanguis streptococci. Fimbriae from gram-positive oral bacteria such as oral Actinomyces and sanguis streptococci are described. These fimbriae may participate in coaggregation, binding to saliva-coated hydroxyapatite or glycoprotein of the surface layer of oral epithelial cells. Taken together, fimbriae are key components in cell-to-surface and cell-to-cell adherence of oral bacteria and pathogenesis of some oral and systemic diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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