Sweet and Sticky : Bacteria use Sugars to Bind to Human Cells

Pathogens use cell surface carbohydrates as a means of attachment to host tissues. In several pathogenic bacteria, truncation of surface carbohydrates, lipooligosaccharide, or lipopolysaccharide have been reported to significantly reduce bacterial adherence to host cells. The article shows that the lipooligosaccharide/lipopolysaccharide of four distinct bacterial pathogens bind directly to a range of host glycans. Surface plasmon resonance data confirmed binding among 66 different host–glycan : bacterial–glycan pairs. It is also demonstrated that bacterial adherence can be competitively inhibited by either host cell or bacterial glycans. The discovery of high-affinity glycan:glycan interactions in infectious disease may provide new approaches for therapy and prevention. The discovery of the existence of extensive, high-affinity interactions between glycans will alter the perception of the importance of these macromolecular interactions in all biological systems.