Studies on the binding of Treponema pectinovorum to HEp-2 epithelial cells

S. G. Walker, J. L. Ebersole, Stanley C. Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We developed a radioassay to assess the adherence of the oral treponemes Treponema denticola and Treponema pectinovorum to live HEp-2 epithelial cells. T. pectinovorum bound firmly to the epithelial cell monolayer in a concentration-dependent manner. The results indicated that a subpopulation of T. pectinovorum appeared to bind and that the binding could be influenced by environmental factors. Increasing concentrations of fetal bovine serum inhibited binding, whereas T. pectinovorum membrane vesicles and co-incubation with T. denticola ATCC 35404 increased the number of cells bound to the monolayer. Treatment of T. pectinovorum with periodic acid, but not trypsin or proteinase K, decreased the binding suggesting that a cell surface carbohydrate, such as the O-antigenic component of the lipopolysaccharide, mediates attachment of the bacteria to the epithelial cells. Co-infection of the HEp-2 cells with both T. denticola and T. pectinovorum did not interfere with each other in attachment to the epithelial cell suggesting that they do not compete for the same cellular receptor on the host cell surface. This study demonstrates that T. pectinovorum is capable, in vitro, of forming a tight association with host cells and that this binding could represent an initial step in the pathogenesis of T. pectinovorum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalOral Microbiology and Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Adhesion assay
  • Epithelial cell binding
  • HEp-2 cell
  • Oral treponeme
  • Periodontal disease
  • Treponema pectinovorum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)


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