A previous study has suggested that Fusobacterium nucleatum FN-2 contains a galactose-binding protein (lectin) on the cell surface (P. A. Murray, V. Matarese, C. I. Hoover, and J. R. Winkler, FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 40:123-127, 1987). In the present study, the molecular specificity and size of this lectin were investigated by several techniques. Whole-cell affinity chromatography with asialofetuin covalently coupled to Sepharose 6MB demonstrated that 81% of 3H-labeled F. nucleatum were specifically eluted by 0.5 M galactose. Specific binding was calcium dependent and did not occur in the presence of calcium chelators. Binding was inhibited by preincubation with galactose. Agglutination of human parotid saliva by F. nucleatum was also inhibited by galactose and its structural analogs. Inhibition by lactose was 2 times that of galactose, inhibition by p-aminophenyl galactosides was 4 times that of galactose, and inhibition by asialoglycopeptides was 100 times that of galactose. Similar inhibition results were obtained for hemagglutination of neuraminidase-treated erythrocytes. These findings suggest that the binding specificity of F. nucleatum FN-2 is more complex than simply the recognition of the monosaccharide galactose. This is consistent with the concept that lectins considered identical in terms of monosaccharide specificity can recognize fine differences in more complex structures. To identify the specific bacterial component(s) involved in galactose recognition, proteins of F. nucleatum FN-2 were separated on a 4 to 11% gradient sodium dodecyl sulfate slab gel, transferred to nitrocellulose paper to renature bacterial binding sites, and then incubated with 125I-labeled asialofetuin. Autoradiographs of the nitrocellulose revealed a band at a range of Mr 300,000 to 330,000 which was not present when the blots were preincubated with galactose. These data support the concept that F. nucleatum FN-2 possesses a lectin that recognizes galactose and galactose-containing substrates
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