The bacterium Erwinia chrysanthemi is a model plant pathogen, responsible for causing cell death in plant tissue. Cell-wall depolymerizing enzymes and avirulence proteins essential for parasitism by this bacterium utilize dedicated type II and type III secretion systems, respectively. Although E. chrysanthemi is not recognized as a mammalian pathogen, we have observed that the bacterium can adhere to, cause an oxidative stress response in and kill cultured human adenocarcinoma cells. These bacteria express a surface protein that bears immunological identity to intimin, a protein required for full virulence of enterohemorrhagic and enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. A type III secretion mutant of E. chrysanthemi was observed to have a significantly lower capability of causing death than the wild-type strain in parallel cultures of human colon adenocarcinoma cells. These observations suggest that E. chrysanthemi has the potential to parasitize mammalian hosts as well as plants. (C) 2000 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.
- Mammalian cell adhesion
- Type III secretion