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Can J Microbiol. 1988 Jun;34(6):757-66.

Ultrastructure of the in situ adherence of Mobiluncus to vaginal epithelial cells.

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Department of Electron Microscopy and Molecular Cytology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


From patients with bacterial vaginosis motile, anaerobic, comma-shaped bacteria can be isolated, which have recently been placed into the new genus Mobiluncus. In this study, electron microscopy was used to examine the in situ adherence of these motile curved rods to detached epithelial cells (comma cells) in vaginal fluid from two patients with bacterial vaginosis. Thin sections showed that the curved rods attached both directly to the epithelial cell surface and at various distances from it. It is concluded that after initial attachment these motile bacteria can grow at the epithelial cell surface in sessile microcolonies. Ruthenium red staining demonstrated a coating of precipitated glycocalyx material both on the surface of the curved rods and on their flagella. This may indicate that in situ the adherent curved rods were enclosed in a very hydrated matrix of exopolysaccharides. Conspicuous was the ability of the curved rods to attach to the epithelial cell surface via their cell tips. However, in situ no specialized bacteria cell surface structures were seen that might explain this polar attachment. Electron microscopy of pure cultures demonstrated that both Mobiluncus curtisii subsp. curtisii and Mobiluncus mulieris can produce a glycocalyx in vitro.

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