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Cell. 1987 Aug 28;50(5):769-78.

Identification of invasin: a protein that allows enteric bacteria to penetrate cultured mammalian cells.


Bacterial strains harboring the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis inv locus were analyzed in order to investigate the mechanism of host cell penetration by an invasive pathogen. The inv locus was found to be necessary for Y. pseudotuberculosis to enter HEp-2 cells and sufficient to convert E. coli into a microorganism able to penetrate cultured cells. Both E. coli and Y. pseudotuberculosis strains harboring inv mutations were defective for entry into HEp-2 cells. Furthermore, molecular clones containing inv, and little additional DNA, converted E. coli into a microorganism that was indistinguishable from the parental Yersinia strain with regard to the entry of cultured cells. Data from in vitro protein synthesis indicated that a 103 kd protein was synthesized from inv, saturating the coding capacity of the locus. The nucleotide sequence shows an open reading frame corresponding to a protein of similar size. This protein, called invasin, is necessary for the microorganisms to penetrate HEp-2 cells, and is compartmentalized on the outer surface of the bacterium.

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