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MBio. 2012 Oct 23;3(5). pii: e00372-12. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00372-12.

Modulation of Kingella kingae adherence to human epithelial cells by type IV Pili, capsule, and a novel trimeric autotransporter.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina, USA.

Abstract

Kingella kingae is an emerging bacterial pathogen that is being recognized increasingly as an important etiology of septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, and bacteremia, especially in young children. Colonization of the posterior pharynx is a key step in the pathogenesis of K. kingae disease. Previous work established that type IV pili are necessary for K. kingae adherence to the respiratory epithelium. In this study, we set out to identify additional factors that influence K. kingae interactions with human epithelial cells. We found that genetic disruption of the gene encoding a predicted trimeric autotransporter protein called Knh (Kingella NhhA homolog) resulted in reduced adherence to human epithelial cells. In addition, we established that K. kingae elaborates a surface-associated polysaccharide capsule that requires a predicted ABC-type transporter export operon called ctrABCD for surface presentation. Furthermore, we discovered that the presence of a surface capsule interferes with Knh-mediated adherence to human epithelial cells by nonpiliated organisms and that maximal adherence in the presence of a capsule requires the predicted type IV pilus retraction machinery, PilT/PilU. On the basis of the data presented here, we propose a novel adherence mechanism that allows K. kingae to adhere efficiently to human epithelial cells while remaining encapsulated and more resistant to immune clearance.

IMPORTANCE:

Kingella kingae is a Gram-negative bacterium that is being recognized increasingly as a cause of joint and bone infections in young children. The pathogenesis of disease due to K. kingae begins with bacterial colonization of the upper respiratory tract, and previous work established that surface hair-like fibers called type IV pili are necessary for K. kingae adherence to respiratory epithelial cells. In this study, we set out to identify additional factors that influence K. kingae interactions with respiratory epithelial cells. We discovered a novel surface protein called Knh that mediates K. kingae adherence and found that a surface-associated carbohydrate capsule interferes with the Knh-mediated adherence of organisms lacking pili. Further analysis revealed that pilus retraction is necessary for maximal Knh-mediated adherence in the presence of the capsule. Our results may lead to new strategies to prevent disease due to K. kingae and potentially other pathogenic bacteria.

PMID:
23093386
PMCID:
PMC3482504
DOI:
10.1128/mBio.00372-12
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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