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Adv Dent Res. 1995 Feb;9(1):55-62.

Characteristics of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans invasion of and adhesion to cultured epithelial cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Medicine and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington 05405, USA.


Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans (A.a.) is highly implicated in periodontitis. We have developed several in vitro models using the KB oral cell line to examine A.a.-epithelial cell interactions. In support of the use of KB cell line model systems is our finding that A.a. invaded KB and primary gingival cells to the same extent. Invasion is an active event which requires new protein synthesis by both KB and A.a. Like many other intracellular parasites, A.a. invade by receptor-mediated endocytosis. We observed that internalized A.a. were surrounded by foci of actin which had been transported from the periphery of the KB cell. Adhesion of A.a. to KB cells occurred rapidly and stimulated the formation of microvilli. Adhesion is affected by both host factors (saliva, serum, [NaCl]) and culture conditions. Multiple determinants [fimbriae, outer membrane proteins, vesicles, and/or an extracellular amorphous material (ExAmMat)] which are either associated with the A.a. surface or are released into the milieu are involved. We determined that ExAmMat can convey adhesiveness to weakly adherent A.a. and to at least one other oral species (Streptococcus parasanguis).

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