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PLoS One. 2016 Aug 18;11(8):e0161337. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161337. eCollection 2016.

Lectin-Like Molecules of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG Inhibit Pathogenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella Biofilm Formation.

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KU Leuven, Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, Kasteelpark Arenberg 20, box 2460, B-3001, Leuven, Belgium.
University of Antwerp, Department of Bioscience Engineering, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020, Antwerp, Belgium.
KU Leuven, Rega Institute for Medical Research, Minderbroedersstraat 10, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium.
Ghent University, Laboratory of Biochemistry and Glycobiology, Department of Molecular Biotechnology, Coupure Links 653, B-9000, Ghent, Belgium.



Increased antibiotic resistance has catalyzed the research on new antibacterial molecules and alternative strategies, such as the application of beneficial bacteria. Since lectin molecules have unique sugar-recognizing capacities, and pathogens are often decorated with sugars that affect their survival and infectivity, we explored whether lectins from the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG have antipathogenic properties.


The genome sequence of L. rhamnosus GG was screened for the presence of lectin-like proteins. Two genes, LGG_RS02780 and LGG_RS02750, encoding for polypeptides with an N-terminal conserved L-type lectin domain were detected and designated Llp1 (lectin-like protein 1) and Llp2. The capacity of Llp1 and Llp2 to inhibit biofilm formation of various pathogens was investigated. Sugar specificity was determined by Sepharose beads assays and glycan array screening.


The isolated lectin domains of Llp1 and Llp2 possess pronounced inhibitory activity against biofilm formation by various pathogens, including clinical Salmonella species and uropathogenic E. coli, with Llp2 being more active than Llp1. In addition, sugar binding assays with Llp1 and Llp2 indicate specificity for complex glycans. Both proteins are also involved in the adhesion capacity of L. rhamnosus GG to gastrointestinal and vaginal epithelial cells.


Lectins isolated from or expressed by beneficial lactobacilli could be considered promising bio-active ingredients for improved prophylaxis of urogenital and gastrointestinal infections.

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