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Cell. 1996 Mar 22;84(6):923-32.

E-cadherin is the receptor for internalin, a surface protein required for entry of L. monocytogenes into epithelial cells.

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Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules, Station Centrale de Microscopie Electronique, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


We report the first identification of a cellular receptor mediating entry of a gram-positive bacterium into nonphagocytotic cells. By an affinity chromatography approach, we identified E-cadherin as the ligand for internalin, an L. monocytogenes protein essential for entry into epithelial cells. Expression of the chicken homolog of E-cadherin (L-CAM) in transfected fibroblasts dramatically increases entry of L. monocytogenes and promotes that of a recombinant L. innocua strain expressing internalin but does not promote entry of the wild-type noninvasive L. innocua or that of an internalin-deficient mutant of L. monocytogenes. Furthermore, L-CAM-specific antibodies block internalin-mediated entry. In contrast to Salmonella, Listeria enters cells by a mechanism of induced phagocytosis occurring without membrane ruffling. This work reveals a novel type of heterophilic interactions for E-cadherin.

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