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Mol Microbiol. 2012 Sep;85(5):862-77. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08148.x. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Fibrinogen-binding and platelet-aggregation activities of a Lactobacillus salivarius septicaemia isolate are mediated by a novel fibrinogen-binding protein.

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Department of Microbiology and Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.


The marketplace for probiotic foods is burgeoning, measured in billions of euro per annum. It is imperative, however, that all bacterial strains are fully assessed for human safety. The ability to bind fibrinogen is considered a potential pathogenicity trait that can lead to platelet aggregation, serious medical complications, and in some instances, death. Here we examined strains from species frequently used as probiotics for their ability to bind human fibrinogen. Only one strain (CCUG 47825), a Lactobacillus salivarius isolate from a case of septicaemia, was found to strongly adhere to fibrinogen. Furthermore, this strain was found to aggregate human platelets at a level comparable to the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. By sequencing the genome of CCUG 47825, we were able to identify candidate genes responsible for fibrinogen binding. Complementing the genetic analysis with traditional molecular microbiological techniques enabled the identification of the novel fibrinogen receptor, CCUG_2371. Although only strain CCUG 47825 bound fibrinogen under laboratory conditions, homologues of the novel fibrinogen binding gene CCUG_2371 are widespread among L. salivarius strains, maintaining their potential to bind fibrinogen if expressed. We highlight the fact that without a full genetic analysis of strains for human consumption, potential pathogenicity traits may go undetected.

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