Corynebacterium diphtheriae surface proteins as adhesins to human erythrocytes.
Twenty-nine strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae isolated from throats and 29 strains from skin lesions, the latter mainly from communities of low socio-economic status in tropics and cold climates, have been examined for the property of adherence to human buccal epithelial cells. All throat strains showed adherence. In contrast, strains from skin lesions were predominantly poor adherers. These results indicate that strains of C. diptheriae from throats must now be added to the important group of pathogens which possess the property of adherence to surface epithelial cells of mucous membranes, thus providing an essential first step in the process of colonizing their hosts. The possible role of this phenomenon of adherence to bucco-pharyngeal epithelial cells in the evolution of the host-parasite relationship of C. diphtheriae is discussed.