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J Periodontal Res. 1999 Oct;34(7):393-9.

Porphyromonas gingivalis virulence factors and invasion of cells of the cardiovascular system.

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University of Florida, Department of Oral Biology, Gainesville 32606, USA.


Our laboratory is interested in the genes and gene products involved in the interactions between Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) and the host. These interactions may occur in either the periodontal tissues or other non-oral host tissues such as those of the cardiovascular system. We have previously reported the cloning of several genes encoding hemagglutinins, surface proteins that interact with the host tissues, and are investigating their roles in the disease process. Primary among these is HagA, a very large protein with multiple functional groups that have significant sequence homology to protease genes of this species. Preliminary evidence indicates that an avirulent Salmonella typhimurium strain containing hagA is virulent in mice. These data indicate that HagA may be a key virulence factor of Pg. Additionally, we are investigating the invasion of primary human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAEC) by Pg because of the recent epidemiological studies indicating a correlation between periodontal disease (PD) and coronary heart disease (CHD). We found that some, but not all, strains of Pg are able to invade these cells. Scanning electron microsopy of the infected HCAEC demonstrated that the invading organisms initially attached to the host cell surface as aggregates and by a "pedestal"-like structure. By transmission electronmicroscopy it could be seen that internalized bacteria were present within multimembranous compartments localized with rough endoplasmic reticulum. In addition, invasion of the HCAEC by Pg resulted in an increase in the degradation of long-lived cellular proteins. These data indicate that Pg are present within autophagosomes and may use components of the autophagic pathway as a means to survive intracellularly. However, Pg presence within autophagosomes in KB cells could not be observed or detected. It is therefore likely that Pg uses different invasive mechanisms for different host cells. This and the role of HagA in invasion is currently being investigated further.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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