Escherichia coli O157:H7 F9 Fimbriae Recognize Plant Xyloglucan and Elicit a Response in Arabidopsis thaliana

Ashleigh Holmes, Yannick Rossez, Kathryn Wright, Pete Hedley, Jenny Morris, William Willats, NH Holden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


Fresh produce is often a source of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) outbreaks. Fimbriae are extracellular structures involved in cell-to-cell attachment and surface colonisation. F9 (Fml) fimbriae have been shown to be expressed at temperatures lower than 37 °C, implying a function beyond the mammalian host. We demonstrate that F9 fimbriae recognize plant cell wall hemicellulose, specifically galactosylated side chains of xyloglucan, using glycan arrays. E. coli expressing F9 fimbriae had a positive advantage for adherence to spinach hemicellulose extract and tissues, which have galactosylated oligosaccharides as recognized by LM24 and LM25 antibodies. As fimbriae are multimeric structures with a molecular pattern, we investigated whether F9 fimbriae could induce a transcriptional response in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, compared with flagella and another fimbrial type, E. coli common pilus (ECP), using DNA microarrays. F9 induced the differential expression of 435 genes, including genes involved in the plant defence response. The expression of F9 at environmentally relevant temperatures and its recognition of plant xyloglucan adds to the suite of adhesins EHEC has available to exploit the plant niche.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9720
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number24
Early online date19 Dec 2020
Publication statusFirst published - 19 Dec 2020


  • Escherichia coli
  • bacterial adhesion
  • fimbriae
  • glycan array
  • host–microbe interaction
  • immunofluorescence microscopy
  • plant defence
  • xyloglucan
  • Glycan array
  • Immunofluorescence microscopy
  • Fimbriae
  • Bacterial adhesion
  • Plant defence
  • Xyloglucan
  • Host-microbe interaction


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