Mannose-binding activity of Escherichia coli: A determinant of attachment and ingestion of the bacteria by macrophages

Z. Bar-Shavit, R. Goldman, I. Ofek, N. Sharon, D. Mirelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, it was suggested that a mannose-specific lectin on the bacterial cell surface is responsible for the recognition by phagocytic cells of certain nonopsonized Escherichia coli strains. In this study we assessed the interaction of two strains of E. coli at different phases of growth with a monolayer of mouse peritoneal macrophages and developed a direct method with [14C]mannan to quantitate the bacterial mannose-binding activity. Normal-sized bacteria were obtained from logarithmic and stationary phases of growth. Nonseptated filamentous cells were formed by growing the organisms in the presence of cephalexin or at a restrictive temperature. Attachment to macrophages of all bacterial forms was inhibited by methyl α-D-mannoside and mannan but not by other sugars tested. The attachment of stationary phase and filamentous bacteria to macrophages, as well as their mannose-binding activity, was similar, whereas in the exponential-phase bacteria they were markedly reduced. The results show a linear relation between the two parameters (R=0.98, P<0.001). The internalization of the filamentous cells attached to macrophages during 45 min of incubation was much less efficient (20%) compared to that of exponential-phase, stationary-phase, or antibody-coated filamentous bacteria (90%). The results indicate that the mannose-binding activity of E. coli determines the recognition of the organisms by phagocytes. They further suggest that administration of β-lactam antibiotics may impair elimination of certain pathogenic bacteria by inducing the formation of filaments which are inefficiently internalized by the host's phagocytic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-424
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes


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