The cell invasiveness of Mycoplasma gallisepticum, the causative agent of respiratory disease in chickens and infectious sinusitis in turkeys, may be a substantial factor in the well-known chronicity of these diseases and in the systemic spread of infection. To date, not much is known about the host factors and mechanisms involved in promotion or obstruction of M. gallisepticum adherence and/or cell invasion.
In the current study, the influence of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins such as fibronectin, collagen type IV and heparin, as well as plasminogen/plasmin, on the adhesion and cell invasion levels of M. gallisepticum to chicken erythrocytes and HeLa cells was investigated in vitro. Two strains, Rhigh and Rlow, which differ in their adhesion and invasion capacity, were analyzed by applying a modified gentamicin invasion assay. Binding of selected ECM molecules to M. gallisepticum was proven by Western blot analysis.
Collagen type IV, fibronectin, and plasminogen exerted positive effects on adhesion and cell invasion of M. gallisepticum, with varying degrees, depending on the strain used. Especially strain Rhigh, with its highly reduced cell adhesion and invasion capabilities seemed to profit from the addition of plasminogen. Western and dot blot analyses showed that Rhigh as well as Rlow are able to adsorb horse fibronectin and plasminogen present in the growth medium. Depletion of HeLa cell membranes from cholesterol resulted in increased adhesion, but decreased cell invasion.
ECM molecules seem to play a supportive role in the adhesion/cell invasion process of M. gallisepticum. Cholesterol depletion known to affect lipid rafts on the host cell surface had contrary effects on cell adherence and cell invasion of M. gallisepticum.