Attachment of Moraxella catarrhalis to pharyngeal epithelial cells is mediated by a glycosphingolipid receptor

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Moraxella catarrhalis is one of the major pathogens of respiratory infections and has the ability to attach to the pharyngeal cells via fimbriae. We characterized the epithelial cell receptor to which fimbriate M. catarrhalis binds. Neuraminidase pretreatment of pharyngeal epithelial cells resulted in a significant decrease of M. catarrhalis attachment, suggesting interaction with the sialic acid component. The attachment was not decreased in M. catarrhalis pretreated with 2 and 1 mg/ml of fucose, N-acetyl-neuraminic acid, N-acetyl-glucosamine, N-acetyl-galactosamine, acetyl-salicylic acid and colominic acid. However, M. catarrhalis treated with gangliosides M1, M2, D1a, D1b and T1a at a concentration of 2.5 μg/ml had significantly decreased the attachment compared to the control. In contrast treatment with gangliosides M3 and asialoganglioside M1 did not decrease the attachment of M. catarrhalis and thereby provided evidence for specificity of the inhibition. Concentration dependent effects of ganglioside M2 on the attachment were also observed. Other fimbriate isolates of M. catarrhalis showed decrease in attachment after treatment with ganglioside M2. However there was no effect on attachment when a nonfimbriate isolate was treated with ganglioside M2. This study indicates that the receptor of fimbriate M. catarrhalis on pharyngeal epithelial cells resides in the sequences of ganglioside M2.




Ahmed, K., Matsumoto, K., Rikitomi, N., & Nagatake, T. (1996). Attachment of Moraxella catarrhalis to pharyngeal epithelial cells is mediated by a glycosphingolipid receptor. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 135(2–3), 305–309.

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