Bacterial adhesins, the pathogenic weapons to trick host defense arsenal.
We reported previously that Muc1 mucin on the epithelial cell surface is an adhesion site for Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Lillehoj EP, Hyun SW, Kim BT, Zhang XG, Lee DI, Rowland S, and Kim KC. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 280: L181-L187, 2001). The present study was designed to identify the adhesin(s) responsible for bacterial binding to Muc1 mucin using genetic and biochemical approaches. Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably transfected with a Muc1 cDNA (CHO-Muc1) or empty plasmid (CHO-X) were compared for adhesion of P. aeruginosa strain PAK. Our results showed that 1) wild-type PAK and isogenic mutant strains lacking pili (PAK/NP) or flagella cap protein (PAK/fliD) demonstrated significantly increased binding to CHO-Muc1 cells, whereas flagellin-deficient (PAK/fliC) bacteria were no more adherent to CHO-Muc1 than CHO-X cells, and 2) P. aeruginosa adhesion was blocked by pretreatment of bacteria with antibody to flagellin or pretreatment of CHO-Muc1 cells with purified flagellin. We conclude that flagellin is an adhesin of P. aeruginosa responsible for its binding to Muc1 mucin on the epithelial cell surface.