How bacteria hack the matrix and dodge the bullets of immunity

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Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are common Gram-negative pathogens associated with an array of pulmonary diseases. All three species have multiple adhesins in their outer membrane, i.e. surface structures that confer the ability to bind to surrounding cells, proteins or tissues. This mini-review focuses on proteins with high affinity for the components of the extracellular matrix such as collagen, laminin, fibronectin and vitronectin. Adhesins are not structurally related and may be lipoproteins, transmembrane porins or large protruding trimeric auto-transporters. They enable bacteria to avoid being cleared together with mucus by attaching to patches of exposed extracellular matrix, or indirectly adhering to epithelial cells using matrix proteins as bridging molecules. As more adhesins are being unravelled, it is apparent that bacterial adhesion is a highly conserved mechanism, and that most adhesins target the same regions on the proteins of the extracellular matrix. The surface exposed adhesins are prime targets for new vaccines and the interactions between proteins are often possible to inhibit with interfering molecules, e.g. heparin. In conclusion, this highly interesting research field of microbiology has unravelled host–pathogen interactions with high therapeutic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article number180018
JournalEuropean Respiratory Review
Issue number148
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


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