Attachment of Yersinia pestis to human respiratory cell lines is inhibited by certain oligosaccharides

Richard Thomas*, Timothy Brooks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Pneumonic plague is an aggressive disease that is clinically difficult to treat. Inhibition of attachment using oligosaccharide receptor mimics may provide an alternative to antibiotics. The virulent Yersinia pestis strain GB was demonstrated to attach to the murine monocyte cell line (J774A.1) and a range of human respiratory epithelial cell lines: nasal (RPMI-2650), bronchial (BEAS2-B) and alveolar (A549). Attachment was greatest to the A549 and BEAS2-B cell lines. Pre-treatment of the cell lines with tunicamycin reduced attachment by 55-65%, indicating the importance of cell-surface carbohydrates in adhesion. The cell lines displayed differences in the oligosaccharides that inhibited attachment. p-Nitrophenol was the best inhibitor for each cell line. Disaccharides such as GalNAcβ1-3Gal and GalNAcβ1-4Gal were also good inhibitors, particularly for the RPMI-2650 cell line. This demonstrates the potential of oligosaccharides as potential anti-adhesion therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


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