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Mol Microbiol. 2002 Sep;45(5):1255-65.

Differential binding to and biofilm formation on, HEp-2 cells by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is dependent upon allelic variation in the fimH gene of the fim gene cluster.

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Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Type 1 fimbria-mediated adherence to HEp-2 cells by two strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium was found to be different. Although both strains exhibited a strong mannose-sensitive haemagglutination reaction with guinea pig erythrocytes, characteristic of the expression of type 1 fimbriae, only one of the strains adhered in large numbers to HEp-2 cells. Characterization of the fimH genes, encoding the fimbrial adhesins, indicated two allelic variants. Using fimH mutants of the two strains it was possible to demonstrate that binding to HEp-2 cells was associated with the presence of one of the alleles regardless of the host strain. Therefore, this differential binding was not a function of the type I fimbrial shaft or the presence of other types of fimbriae produced by one strain but not the other. These observations may explain the differences in HEp-2 binding by type 1 fimbriate strains of Salmonella previously reported by several groups. Also, our studies demonstrate that the FimH adhesin can influence the efficiency of biofilm formation on HEp-2 cells using once-flow-through continuous culture conditions. The formation of biofilms on eukaryotic cells using this procedure is more likely to represent those conditions found in the intestinal tract than conditions using batch culture techniques to investigate adherence and biofilm formation. Indeed, the increased efficiency of biofilm formation in the murine intestinal tract confirmed the role of one of the fimH alleles in this process.

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