Microbial infections are typically initiated by the colonization of tissues by a specific mechanism that promotes adherence to host cells or tissues. In this work, we characterized the ability of Gallibacterium anatis F149T to express fimbriae that may be involved in mucosal attachment. Using transmission electron microscopy, the fimbriae-like structures could be observed on the surface of negatively stained G. anatis F149T, and these structures were further visualized after being released by physical shaking. When the fimbriae-like structures were separated by SDS-PAGE, the proteins comprising them were isolated and sized at 13 and 25 kDa. G. anatis F149T was able to adhere to chicken oropharyngeal epithelial cells. Adhesion could be completely inhibited by pretreatment of the bacterial cells with trypsin, whereas 25% inhibition was attained after pretreatment with an antiserum against the 13 kDa protein. We demonstrated by immuno-gold electron microscopy that the antibodies from the antiserum were specifically associated with the fimbria-like structures on G. anatis. These results indicated that G. anatis F149T expresses fimbriae that contribute to its adhesion to chicken oropharyngeal epithelial cells and may be important for colonization of the upper respiratory tract.
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