Aggregative adherence of uropathogenic Proteus mirabilis to cultured epithelial cells


  • Editor: Ewa Sadowy

Correspondence: Waldir P. Elias, Laboratório de Bacteriologia, Instituto Butantan, Avenida Dr Vital Brazil 1500, São Paulo, SP, 05503-900, Brazil. Tel.: +55 11 3726 7222, ext.: 2075; fax: +55 11 3726 1505; e-mail:


Proteus mirabilis is an important cause of urinary tract infection (UTI) in patients with complicated urinary tracts. Thirty-five strains of P. mirabilis isolated from UTI were examined for the adherence capacity to epithelial cells. All isolates displayed the aggregative adherence (AA) to HEp-2 cells, a phenotype similarly presented in LLC-MK2 cells. Biofilm formation on polystyrene was also observed in all strains. The mannose-resistant Proteus-like fimbriae (MR/P), Type I fimbriae and AAF/I, II and III fimbriae of enteroaggregative Escherichia coli were searched by the presence of their respective adhesin-encoding genes. Only the MR/P fimbrial subunits encoding genes mrpA and mrpH were detected in all isolates, as well as MR/P expression. A mutation in mrpA demonstrated that MR/P is involved in aggregative adherence to HEp-2 cells, as well as in biofilm formation. However, these phenotypes are multifactorial, because the mrpA mutation reduced but did not abolish both phenotypes. The present results reinforce the importance of MR/P as a virulence factor in P. mirabilis due to its association with AA and biofilm formation, which is an important step for the establishment of UTI in catheterized patients.