Adherence of pathogenic bacteria is often an essential first step in the infectious process. The ability of bacteria to adhere to one another, or to coaggregate, may be an important factor in their ability to colonize and function as pathogens in the periodontal pocket. Previously, a strong and specific coaggregation was demonstrated between two putative periodontal pathogens, Fusobacterium nucleatum and Porphyromonas gingivalis. The interaction appeared to be mediated by a protein adhesin on the F. nucleatum cells and a carbohydrate receptor on the P. gingivalis cells. In this investigation, we have localized the adhesin activity of F. nucleatum T18 to the outer membrane on the basis of the ability of F. nucleatum T18 vesicles to coaggregate with whole cells of P. gingivalis T22 and the ability of the outer membrane fraction of F. nucleatum T18 to inhibit coaggregation between whole cells of F. nucleatum T18 and P. gingivalis T22. Proteolytic pretreatment of the F. nucleatum T18 outer membrane fraction resulted in a loss of coaggregation inhibition, confirming the proteinaceous nature of the adhesin. The F. nucleatum T18 outer membrane fraction was found to be enriched for several proteins, including a 42-kDa major outer membrane protein which appeared to be exposed on the bacterial cell surface. Fab fragments prepared from antiserum raised to the 42-kDa outer membrane protein were found to partially but specifically block coaggregation. These data support the conclusion that the 42-kDa major outer membrane protein of F. nucleatum T18 plays a role in mediating coaggregation with P. gingivalis T22.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology