Dynamic interactions of a conserved enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli adhesin with intestinal mucins govern epithelium engagement and toxin delivery

Pardeep Kumar, F. Matthew Kuhlmann, Kirandeep Bhullar, Hyungjun Yang, Bruce A. Vallance, Lijun Xia, Qingwei Luo, James M. Fleckenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

At present, there is no vaccine for enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), an important cause of diarrheal illness. Nevertheless, recent microbial pathogenesis studies have identified a number of molecules produced by ETEC that contribute to its virulence and are novel antigenic targets to complement canonical vaccine approaches. EtpA is a secreted two-partner adhesin that is conserved within the ETEC pathovar. EtpA interacts with the tips of ETEC flagella to promote bacterial adhesion, toxin delivery, and intestinal colonization by forming molecular bridges between the bacteria and the epithelial surface. However, the nature of EtpA interactions with the intestinal epithelium remains poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that EtpA interacts with glycans presented by transmembrane and secreted intestinal mucins at epithelial surfaces to facilitate pathogen-host interactions that culminate in toxin delivery. Moreover, we found that a major effector molecule of ETEC, the heat-labile enterotoxin (LT), may enhance these interactions by stimulating the production of the gel-forming mucin MUC2. Our studies suggest, however, that EtpA participates in complex and dynamic interactions between ETEC and the gastrointestinal mucosae in which host glycoproteins promote bacterial attachment while simultaneously limiting the epithelial engagement required for effective toxin delivery. Collectively, these data provide additional insight into the intricate nature of ETEC interactions with the intestinal epithelium that have potential implications for rational approaches to vaccine design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3608-3617
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and immunity
Volume84
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

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