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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041447. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

Identification of Bartonella Trw host-specific receptor on erythrocytes.

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Unité Sous Contrat Bipar, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), Anses, Maisons-Alfort, France.


Each Bartonella species appears to be highly adapted to one or a limited number of reservoir hosts, in which it establishes long-lasting intraerythrocytic bacteremia as the hallmark of infection. Recently, we identified Trw as the bacterial system involved in recognition of erythrocytes according to their animal origin. The T4SS Trw is characterized by a multiprotein complex that spans the inner and outer bacterial membranes, and possesses a hypothetical pilus structure. TrwJ, I, H and trwL are present in variable copy numbers in different species and the multiple copies of trwL and trwJ in the Bartonella trw locus are considered to encode variant forms of surface-exposed pilus components. We therefore aimed to identify which of the candidate Trw pilus components were located on the bacterial surface and involved in adhesion to erythrocytes, together with their erythrocytic receptor. Using different technologies (electron microscopy, phage display, invasion inhibition assay, far western blot), we found that only TrwJ1 and TrwJ2 were expressed and localized at the cell surface of B. birtlesii and had the ability to bind to mouse erythrocytes, and that their receptor was band3, one of the major outer-membrane glycoproteins of erythrocytes, (anion exchanger). According to these results, we propose that the interaction between TrwJ1, TrwJ2 and band 3 leads to the critical host-specific adherence of Bartonella to its host cells, erythrocytes.

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