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Glyco-engineered cell line and computational docking studies reveals enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli CFA/I fimbriae bind to Lewis a glycans

Journal article
Authors Lynda Mottram
Jining Liu
Sonali Chavan
Joshua Tobias
Ann-Mari Svennerholm
Jan Holgersson
Published in Scientific Reports
Volume 8
ISSN 2045-2322
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Clinical Chemistry and Transfusion Medicine
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Language en
Keywords factor-antigen-i, blood-group, colonization-factor, epithelial-cells, pig antibodies, protein, expression, susceptibility, determinants, infection, Science & Technology - Other Topics
Subject categories Infectious Medicine, Immunology in the medical area


We have previously reported clinical data to suggest that colonization factor I (CFA/I) fimbriae of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) can bind to Lewis a (Le(a)), a glycan epitope ubiquitous in the small intestinal mucosa of young children (< 2 years of age), and individuals with a genetic mutation of FUT2. To further elucidate the physiological binding properties of this interaction, we engineered Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO-K1) cells to express Le(a) or Le(b) determinants on both N- and O-glycans. We used our glyco-engineered CHO-K1 cell lines to demonstrate that CfaB, the major subunit of ETEC CFA/I fimbriae, as well as four related ETEC fimbriae, bind more to our CHO-K1 cell-line expressing Le(a), compared to cells carrying Le(b) or the CHO-K1 wild-type glycan phenotype. Furthermore, using in-silico docking analysis, we predict up to three amino acids (Glu(25), Asn(27), Thr(29)) found in the immunoglobulin (Ig)-like groove region of CfaB of CFA/I and related fimbriae, could be important for the preferential and higher affinity binding of CFA/I fimbriae to the potentially structurally flexible Le(a) glycan. These findings may lead to a better molecular understanding of ETEC pathogenesis, aiding in the development of vaccines and/or anti-infection therapeutics.

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