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ACS Synth Biol. 2015 Apr 17;4(4):463-73. doi: 10.1021/sb500252a. Epub 2014 Jul 29.

Programming controlled adhesion of E. coli to target surfaces, cells, and tumors with synthetic adhesins.

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†Department of Microbial Biotechnology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Campus UAM Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
‡Molecular Immunology Unit, Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro, Majadahonda, 28222 Madrid, Spain.


In this work we report synthetic adhesins (SAs) enabling the rational design of the adhesion properties of E. coli. SAs have a modular structure comprising a stable β-domain for outer membrane anchoring and surface-exposed immunoglobulin domains with high affinity and specificity that can be selected from large repertoires. SAs are constitutively and stably expressed in an E. coli strain lacking a conserved set of natural adhesins, directing a robust, fast, and specific adhesion of bacteria to target antigenic surfaces and cells. We demonstrate the functionality of SAs in vivo, showing that, compared to wild type E. coli, lower doses of engineered E. coli are sufficient to colonize solid tumors expressing an antigen recognized by the SA. In addition, lower levels of engineered bacteria were found in non-target tissues. Therefore, SAs provide stable and specific adhesion capabilities to E. coli against target surfaces of interest for diverse applications using live bacteria.


E. coli; adhesins; cell surface antigens; synthetic biology; tumor targeting

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