Both leukotoxin and poly-N-acetylglucosamine surface polysaccharide protect Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans cells from macrophage killing

Vishwanath Venketaraman, Albert K. Lin, Amy Le, Scott C. Kachlany, Nancy D. Connell, Jeffrey B. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Two virulence factors produced by the periodontopathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans are leukotoxin, a secreted lipoprotein that kills human polymorphonuclear leukocytes and macrophages, and poly-N-acetylglucosamine (PGA), a surface polysaccharide that mediates intercellular adhesion, biofilm formation and detergent resistance. In this study we examined the roles of leukotoxin and PGA in protecting A. actinomycetemcomitans cells from killing by the human macrophage cell line THP-1. Monolayers of THP-1 cells were infected with single-cell suspensions of a wild-type A. actinomycetemcomitans strain, or of isogenic leukotoxin or PGA mutant strains. After 48 h, viable bacteria were enumerated by dilution plating, macrophage morphology was evaluated microscopically, and macrophage viability was measured by a Trypan blue dye exclusion assay. The number of A. actinomycetemcomitans CFUs increased approximately twofold in wells infected with the wild-type strain, but decreased by approximately 70-90% in wells infected with the leukotoxin and PGA mutant strains. Infection with the wild-type or leukotoxin mutant strain caused a significant decrease in THP-1 cell viability, whereas infection with the PGA mutant strain did not result in any detectable changes in THP-1 viability. Pre-treatment of wild-type A. actinomycetemcomitans cells with the PGA-hydrolyzing enzyme dispersin B rendered them sensitive to killing by THP-1 cells. We concluded that both leukotoxin and PGA are necessary for evasion of macrophage killing by A. actinomycetemcomitans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-180
Number of pages8
JournalMicrobial Pathogenesis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans
  • Biofilm
  • Dispersin B
  • HL-60
  • J774-1
  • Leukotoxin
  • Macrophage
  • Poly-N-acetylglucosamine
  • THP-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases

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