Fusobacterium nucleatum is a common oral anaerobe involved in periodontitis that is known to translocate and cause intrauterine infections. In the oral environment, F. nucleatum adheres to a large diversity of species, facilitating their colonization and creating biological bridges that stabilize the multispecies dental biofilm. Many of these interactions (called coadherences or coaggregations) are galactose sensitive. Galactose-sensitive interactions are also involved in the binding of F. nucleatum to host cells. Hemagglutination of some F. nucleatum strains is also galactose sensitive, suggesting that a single galactose-sensitive adhesin might mediate the interaction of fusobacteria with many partners and targets. In order to identify the fusobacterial galactose-sensitive adhesin, a system for transposon mutagenesis in fusobacteria was created. The mutant library was screened for hemagglutination deficiency, and three clones were isolated. All three clones were found to harbor the transposon in the gene coding for the Fap2 outer membrane autotransporter. The three fap2 mutants failed to show galactose-inhibitable coaggregation with Porphyromonas gingivalis and were defective in cell binding. A fap2 mutant also showed a 2-log reduction in murine placental colonization compared to that of the wild type. Our results suggest that Fap2 is a galactose-sensitive hemagglutinin and adhesin that is likely to play a role in the virulence of fusobacteria.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases