The globoseries glycosphingolipid sialosyl galactosyl globoside is found in urinary tract tissues and is a preferred binding receptor In vitro for uropathogenic Escherichia coli expressing pap-encoded adhesins

Infect Immun. 1998 Aug;66(8):3856-61. doi: 10.1128/IAI.66.8.3856-3861.1998.


Women with a history of recurrent Escherichia coli urinary tract infections (UTIs) are significantly more likely to be nonsecretors of blood group antigens than are women without such a history, and vaginal epithelial cells (VEC) from women who are nonsecretors show enhanced adherence of uropathogenic E. coli isolates compared with cells from secretors. We previously extracted glycosphingolipids (GSLs) from native VEC and determined that nonsecretors (but not secretors) selectively express two extended globoseries GSLs, sialosyl galactosyl globoside (SGG) and disialosyl galactosyl globoside (DSGG), which specifically bound uropathogenic E. coli R45 expressing a P adhesin. In this study, we demonstrated, by purifying the compounds from this source, that SGG and DSGG are expressed in human kidney tissue. We also demonstrated that SGG and DSGG isolated from human kidneys bind uropathogenic E. coli isolates expressing each of the three classes of pap-encoded adhesins, including cloned isolates expressing PapG from J96, PrsG from J96, and PapG from IA2, and the wild-type isolates IA2 and R45. We metabolically 35S labeled these five E. coli isolates and measured their relative binding affinities to serial dilutions of SGG and DSGG as well as to globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) and globotetraosylceramide (Gb4), two other globoseries GSLs present in urogenital tissues. Each of the five E. coli isolates bound to SGG with the highest apparent avidity compared with their binding to DSGG, Gb3, and Gb4, and each isolate had a unique pattern of GSL binding affinity. These studies further suggest that SGG likely plays an important role in the pathogenesis of UTI and that its presence may account for the increased binding of E. coli to uroepithelial cells from nonsecretors and for the increased susceptibility of nonsecretors to recurrent UTI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fimbriae Proteins*
  • Gangliosides / isolation & purification
  • Gangliosides / metabolism
  • Globosides / metabolism*
  • Glycosphingolipids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / metabolism
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Vagina / metabolism


  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli
  • Gangliosides
  • Globosides
  • Glycosphingolipids
  • PapG protein, E coli
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • bacterial adhesin receptor
  • ceramide trihexoside
  • Fimbriae Proteins
  • disialosyl galactosyl globoside