Escherichia coli strains with defined receptor specificity were used as probes to analyze the individual variation in host cell receptors with respect to blood groups. The adhesins were initially characterized as mannose sensitive (MS), mannose resistant (MR), or nonagglutinating (-). The receptor specificity of the strains with MR adhesins was defined by agglutination of synthetic Gal alpha 1----4Gal beta covalently linked via a spacer arm, (CH2)2S(CH2)2CO approximately H-bovine serum albumin (BSA) to BSA-latex beads as specific for the globoseries glycolipid receptors (MR:GS). Strains with MR adhesins not reacting with Gal alpha 1----4Gal beta-BSA-latex were designated MR:nonGS. The attachment and hemagglutination of the MR:GS strains was strictly dependent on Gal alpha 1----4Gal beta-containing receptors, as shown by the absence of binding to cells from individuals of blood group P lacking these structures. Previous reports showed differences in the composition of globoseries glycolipids between erythrocytes from individuals of P1 and P2. No significant difference was found, However, in the mean adhesion to P1 and P2 epithelial cells or in the agglutination titer for P1 and P2 erythrocytes. The MR:GS receptors were equally distributed on squamous and transitional epithelial cells. In contrast, the distribution of MR:nonGS receptors was skewed. Attachment occurred mostly to squamous epithelial cells. The attachment of strains with MR:nonGS adhesins was independent of the P blood group of the cell donor. The binding ability of MR:GS and MR:nonGS adhesins appeared independent and additive. The attachment was not influenced by the ABH blood group. However, increased binding to epithelial cells from nonsecretors occurred regardless of the P blood group, suggesting a shielding of receptors by products controlled by the secretor genes. These results illustrate how individual variation in cell surface components with and without receptor activity determine the interaction of a ligand with a known receptor.
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