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J Med Microbiol. 1988 May;26(1):11-7.

Adherence of Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli of serotype O157:H7 to human epithelial cells in tissue culture: role of outer membranes as bacterial adhesins.

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Department of Paediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Escherichia coli of serotype O157:H7 are Vero cytotoxin-producing enteric pathogens that have recently been associated with outbreaks of haemorrhagic colitis, sporadic cases of haemorrhagic colitis and with the haemolytic uraemic syndrome. The organisms demonstrate attaching and effacing binding to the caecum and colon of orally infected gnotobiotic piglets, chickens and infant rabbits. E. coli O157:H7 cells adhere to the surface but do not invade the cytoplasm of human epithelial cell lines in tissue culture. Since outer membranes, lipopolysaccharides and flagella have been identified as bacterial adhesins on other enteric pathogens, we evaluated their roles in the binding of non-fimbriated E. coli O157:H7 to HEp-2 cells. Hyperimmune rabbit antisera were prepared to whole cells, outer membranes and flagella of E. coli O157:H7. The presence of antibody to homologous antigen was confirmed by dot blot immunoassays. Both antisera and purified outer membrane and flagellar antigens were co-incubated with bacteria and HEp-2 cells to quantitate inhibition of bacterial attachment. Adherence of E. coli O157:H7 to tissue culture cells was inhibited by rabbit antisera raised to whole cells (76.0 +/- 5.6% inhibition compared with bacterial adherence in the presence of pre-immune rabbit serum) and outer membranes (69.2 +/- 3.4% inhibition). In contrast, inhibition of bacterial attachment to tissue-culture cells was significantly less when two antisera to H7 flagella were co-incubated with E. coli O157:H7 and HEp-2 cells (12.4 +/- 7.6%; 6.0 +/- 3.5% inhibition). Outer-membrane extracts inhibited adherence to E. coli O157:H7 to HEp-2 cells in a concentration dependent manner whereas isolated flagella and lipopolysaccharide antigens did not inhibit bacterial attachment.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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