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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Nov;78(22):7993-8000. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02141-12. Epub 2012 Sep 7.

Different roles for lactococcal aggregation factor and mucin binding protein in adhesion to gastrointestinal mucosa.

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Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.


Adhesion of bacteria to mucosal surfaces and epithelial cells is one of the key features for the selection of probiotics. In this study, we assessed the adhesion property of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis BGKP1 based on its strong autoaggregation phenotype and the presence of the mucin binding protein (MbpL). Genes involved in aggregation (aggL) and possible interaction with mucin (mbpL), present on the same plasmid pKP1, were previously separately cloned in the plasmid pAZIL. In vivo and in vitro experiments revealed potentially different physiological roles of these two proteins in the process of adherence to the intestine during the passage of the strain through the gastrointestinal tract. We correlated the in vitro and in vivo aggregation of the BGKP1-20 carrying plasmid with aggL to binding to the colonic mucus through nonspecific hydrophobic interactions. The expression of AggL on the bacterial cell surface significantly increased the hydrophobicity of the strain. On the other hand, the presence of AggL in the strain reduced its ability to adhere to the ileum. Moreover, MbpL protein showed an affinity to bind gastric type mucin proteins such as MUC5AC. This protein did not contribute to the binding of the strain to the ileal or colonic part of the intestine. Different potential functions of lactococcal AggL and MbpL proteins in the process of adhesion to the gastrointestinal tract are proposed.

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