Adherence and colonization

Numerous components have been implicated in the processes of adherence and colonization. These include surface components such as LPS, outer membrane proteins, the flagellum and pili or fimbriae, as well as extracellular products like DNAases, proteases and neuraminidase. Mutants in the production of TCP or a mannose-fucose-resistant hemagglutinin are dramatically affected in their ability to colonize presumably because of a defect in adherence. Mutations eliminating LPS O antigen biosynthesis are also attenuating but this is probably due to pleio-tropic effects including preventing the assembly of TCP. The mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin is also a pilus adhesin and was initially thought to be an El Tor equivalent to TCP, but its role in colonization of the gut is questionable.

The neuraminidase is capable of converting higher gangliosides to GM,, effectively increasing the availability of receptors for CT. Under appropriate conditions a significant reduction in virulence can be detected in neuraminidase-less mutants. Although other components may contribute to adherence and colonization, the corresponding mutants are not necessarily attenuating. However, as was the case with the neuraminidase, due to insufficient knowledge, the conditions under which these components are critical for virulence may not have been used for comparing the parent and mutant strains. It is also clear that there are factors which may be only expressed in vivo and have not been detected by conventional experimental protocols.

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