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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1997 Aug;17(2):209-17.

Surfactant protein A (SP-A) mediates attachment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to murine alveolar macrophages.

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Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, USA.


Attachment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis organisms to alveolar macrophages (AMs) is an essential early event in primary pulmonary tuberculosis. Surfactant protein A (SP-A) is a nonimmune opsonin present in the alveolar spaces that binds carbohydrate residues such as mannose. It was hypothesized that SP-A attaches to M. tuberculosis and serves as a ligand between M. tuberculosis and AMs. [125I]SP-A was found to bind to M. tuberculosis in a time- and [Ca2+]-dependent manner with a Kd of 1.9 x 10(-9) M and an apparent number of 6.3 x 10(2) SP-A binding sites/organism. Further, deglycosylated SP-A had minimal binding to M. tuberculosis, indicating that sugar moieties are important in this interaction. SP-A specifically binds to a 60-kD cell-wall protein from M. tuberculosis. SP-A-mediated attachment of 51Cr-labeled M. tuberculosis organisms to AMs is dependent on time, SP-A concentration, and Ca2+. M. tuberculosis attachment to murine AMs in the absence of SP-A was 12.8 +/- 0.9%; however, in the presence of 5 microg/ml SP-A the attachment increased to 38.6 +/- 2.9% (P < 0.001). SP-A-mediated attachment was significantly decreased from 38.6 +/- 2.9% to 18.7 +/- 3.3% (P < 0.05) in the presence of antihuman SP-A antibodies. When the attachment assay was repeated in the presence of alpha-methylene-D-mannosepyranosidase (mannosyl-BSA) and type V collagen, SP-A-mediated attachment decreased from 38.6 +/- 2.9% to 16.6 +/- 1.5% (P < 0.001) and 19.1 +/- 1.4% (P < 0.05), respectively. Further, deglycosylated SP-A had only a minimal effect on M. tuberculosis attachment to AMs. These data indicate that SP-A can mediate M. tuberculosis attachment to AMs, and suggest possible underlying mechanisms for this.

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