Adherence of Peptostreptococcus micros morphotypes to epithelial cells in vitro


Bas H. A. Kremer, Department of Oral Microbiology, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, van der Boechorststraat 7, N-1081BT Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Peptostreptococcus micros, which is associated with oral and non-oral mixed anaerobic infections, occurs in three colony morphotypes, the smooth type, the rough type and the smooth variant of the rough type. These types differ in surface structures; the rough type expresses large fibrillar surface appendages, which are absent on the surface of both the smooth and the smooth variant of the rough type. To determine the role of these surface structures in adherence we characterized the adherence of the three morphotypes of P. micros to epithelial cells in vitro. Although all three types adhered well to epithelial cells, adhering numbers of the rough type were significantly lower than those of the smooth and the smooth variant of the rough type. Protease treatment increased the adherence of the rough type to the level of the two other types. The adherence of all three types was reduced more than 85% by treatment with 10 mM sodium periodate. Furthermore, the adherence was pH independent and could not be blocked by incubation with antisera to the bacteria. In addition, we determined the capacity to invade epithelial cells by P. micros. In an acridine orange assay such invasion could not be detected. Our results suggest that the adherence of P. micros to epithelial cells is mediated by periodate-sensitive extracellular polysaccharides and that the protruding fibril-like protein surface structures of the rough type have an obstructive effect on the adherence.