Species-specific cell adhesion of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli is mediated by type IV bundle-forming pili

Cell Microbiol. 2002 Jan;4(1):29-42. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-5822.2002.00167.x.


Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is a causative agent of diarrhoea in humans. Localized adherence of EPEC onto intestinal mucosa was reproduced in an in vitro adherence assay with cultured human epithelial cells. We found that the efficiency of EPEC adherence to a mouse-derived colonic epithelial cell line, CMT-93, was remarkably lower than its adherence to human-derived intestinal cell lines, such as Intestine-407 or Caco-2. Although EPEC did adhere to some cell lines derived from non-human species, fixing the cells with formalin to inactivate one or more formalin-sensitive factors allowed us to observe species-specific differences in EPEC adherence. In contrast to these results, an EPEC mutant that is defective in bundle-forming pili (BFP) production adhered as efficiently to CMT-93 cells as to Caco-2 cells. Furthermore, Citrobacter rodentium expressing BFP adhered to Caco-2 cells much more efficiently than to CMT-93 cells. Finally, a purified BfpA-His6 fusion protein showed higher affinity for Caco-2 cells than for CMT-93 cells, and inhibited EPEC adherence. Following BFP-mediated adherence, secretion of EspB from adherent bacteria and reorganization of F-actin in the host cells was observed. EPEC adhering to CMT-93 cells induced far less secretion of EspB, or reorganization of F-actin in the host CMT-93 cells, than did EPEC adhering to Caco-2 cells. These results indicated that BFP plays an important role in the cell-type-dependent adherence of EPEC and in the progression to the later steps in EPEC adherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Citrobacter freundii / genetics
  • Citrobacter freundii / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Fimbriae Proteins*
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Species Specificity


  • Actins
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • BfpA protein, E coli
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Fimbriae Proteins