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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Feb;47(3):861-9.

Streptococcus pyogenes recruits collagen via surface-bound fibronectin: a novel colonization and immune evasion mechanism.

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Department of Microbial Pathogenecity and Vaccine Research, GBF-National Centre for Biotechnology, Braunschweig, Germany.


This study aimed to characterize matrix assembly mechanisms on the surface of the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. Among 125 S. pyogenes isolates, 61% were able to recruit collagen type IV via surface-bound fibronectin. Streptococcus gordonii expressing the fibronectin-binding repeat domain of S. pyogenes SfbI protein was equally potent in recruiting collagen, indicating that this domain was sufficient to promote fibronectin-mediated collagen recruitment. Electron microscopic analysis of streptococci revealed that fibronectin-mediated collagen recruitment led to matrix deposition on and between streptococcal cells, which induced the formation of large bacterial aggregates. Furthermore, collagen-recruiting streptococci were able to colonize collagen fibres and were protected from adhering to human polymorphonuclear cells in the presence of opsonizing antibodies. Fibronectin-mediated collagen recruitment thus represents a novel aggregation, colonization and immune evasion mechanism of S. pyogenes.

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