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J Biol Chem. 2002 Jan 25;277(4):2876-85. Epub 2001 Nov 9.

Cell surface-localized nucleolin is a eukaryotic receptor for the adhesin intimin-gamma of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799, USA.


Intimin-gamma is an outer membrane protein of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 that is required for the organism to adhere tightly to HEp-2 cells and to colonize experimental animals. Another EHEC O157:H7 protein, the Transferred intimin receptor (Tir), is considered the primary receptor for intimin-gamma. Nevertheless, Tir-independent binding of intimin-gamma to HEp-2 cells has been reported. This observation suggests the existence of a eukaryotic receptor(s) for intimin-gamma. In this study, we sought to identify that receptor(s). First, we determined by equilibrium binding titration that the association of purified intimin-gamma with HEp-2 cells was specific and consistent with a single host cell receptor. Second, we isolated a protein from lysates of HEp-2 cells that bound intimin-gamma and subsequently identified this molecule as nucleolin, a protein involved in cell growth regulation that can be cell surface-expressed. Third, we established that purified intimin-gamma and nucleolin were co-localized on the surface of HEp-2 cells and that the site of EHEC O157:H7 attachment was associated with regions of nucleolin expression. Finally, we demonstrated that mouse anti-nucleolin sera significantly decreased the adherence of EHEC O157:H7 to HEp-2 cells. From this, we conclude that nucleolin is the HEp-2 cell receptor for intimin-gamma expressed by EHEC O157:H7.

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