Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection of pigs: expression, extraction, purification and the adhesive properties of the K88 fimbrial adhesin

  • Dean W. Payne

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The ability of Escherichia coli to express the K88 fimbrial adhesin was satisfactorily indicated by the combined techniques of ELISA, haemagglutination and latex agglutination. Detection of expression by electron microscopy and the ability to metabolize raffinose were unsuitable.
Quantitative expression of the K88 adhesin was determined by ELISA. Expression was found to vary according to the E.coli strain examined, media type and form. In general it was found that the total amount was greater, while the amount/cfu was less on agar than in broth cultures. Expression of the K88 adhesin during unshaken batch culture was related to the growth rate and was maximal during late logarithmic to early stationary phase.
A combination of heat extraction, ammonium sulphate and isoelectric precipitation was found suitable for both large and small scale preparation of purified K88ab adhesin. Extraction of the K88 adhesin was sensitive to pH and it was postulated that this may affect the site of colonisation of by ETEC in vivo.
Results of haemagglutination experiments were consistent with the hypothesis that the K88 receptor present on erythrocytes is composed of two elements, one responsible for the binding of K88ab and K88ac and a second responsible for the binding of the K88ad adhesin.
Comparison of the haemagglutinating properties of cell-free and cell-bound K88 adhesin revealed some differences probably indicating a minor conformational change in the K88 adhesin on its isolation. The K88ab adhesin was found to bind to erythrocytes over a wide pH range (PH 4-9) and was inhibited by αK88ab and αK88b antisera. Inhibition of haemagglutination was noted with crude heparin, mannan and porcine gastric mucin, chondrosine and several hexosamines, glucosamine in particular. The most potent inhibitor of haemagglutination was n-dodecyl-β-D-glucopyranoside, one of a series of glucosides found to have inhibitory properties. Correlation between hydrophobicity of glucosides tested and degree of inhibition observed suggested hydrophobic forces were important in the interaction of the K88 adhesin with its receptor.
The results of Scatchard and Hill plots indicated that binding of the K88ab adhesin to porcine enterocytes in the majority of cases is a two-step, three component system. The first K88 receptor (or site) had a K2. of 1.59x1014M-1 and a minimum of 4.3x104 sites/enterocyte. The second receptor (or site) had a K2 of 4.2x1012M-1 with a calculated 1.75x105 sites/enterocyte.
Attempts to inhibit binding of cell-free K88 adhesin to porcine enterocytes by lectins were unsuccessful. However, several carbohydrates including trehalose, lactulose, galactose 1→4 mannopyranoside, chondrosine, galactosamine, stachyose and mannan were inhibitory. The most potent inhibitor was found to be porcine gastric mucin. Inhibition observed with n-octyl-α-D-glucopyranose was difficult to interpret in isolation because of interference with the assay, however, it agreed with the results of haemagglutination inhibition experiments.
Date of AwardMar 1992
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPeter Lambert (Supervisor) & Norman Moore (Supervisor)


  • Escherichia coli
  • K88 adhesin/receptor
  • expression
  • purification
  • haemagglutination

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