Surface properties of enterococcus faecalis in relation to infective endocarditis
The effect of growth conditions on both the appearance and the antigenic profile of cells of Enterococcus faecalis was investigated using electron micrographs of ruthenium red stained and sectioned cells and SDS-PAGE and blotting techniques respectively. Three specific antigens of molecular weights 73, 40 and 37 kdaltons were of particular interest being expressed most strongly after growth in serum. This medium was deemed to most closely mimic jn vjvo growth conditions reflecting an environment similar to that which the microorganisms would encounter during bacteraemia, preceding the colonisation of the endocardium and the development of infective endocarditis. The 40 and 37 kdalton antigens were shown by immunoqold labelling to be exposed on the surface of the cells although they did not appear to be connected with the fimbriae shown to exist on some of the E. faecalis cells examined by negative staining. The 73, 40 and 37 kdalton antigens were crudely purified using sarkosyl and ammonium sulphate precipitation, and used as the basis of a serodiagnostic test for E. faecalis endocarditis using an ELISA system. This was tested in a blind trial and the success rates were 94% for positives, 90% for negatives with endocarditis caused by other organisms and 80% for E. faecalis infections other than endocarditis. The binding of E.faecalis cells to the serum proteins fibronectin and albumin was investigated using 125I labelled proteins, followed by Scatchard analysis. This showed that· E.faecalis cells do loosely bind large amounts of both of these proteins, thus surely affecting the way in which the host's immune system perceives the cells. The E.faecalis receptor for fibronectin was partially characterised and appeared to involve protein and/or carbohydrate containing components. but did not involve LTA or the 40 and 37 kdalton species specific antigens.