Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) bearing the fimbrial colonisation factor antigens CFA/I, CFA/II, CFA/III, and the non-fimbrial antigen 2230 were tested for their ability to adhere to two cultured human intestinal HT-29 mucus secreting cell subpopulations. These populations are referred to as HT29-MTX and HT29-FU, which differ in the amount of secreted mucins and in their gastric or colonic mucin immunoreactivity respectively. Adherence of radiolabelled bacteria to cell monolayers infected apically was assessed. All ETEC strains adhered to the mucus secreting HT29-FU subpopulation, which secretes mucins of colonic immunoreactivity. Visualisation of bacteria by scanning electron microscopy showed that ETEC bound to the HT29-FU cells possessing a brush border, but not to the mucus and that ETEC binding developed as a function of cell differentiation. The adhesion of ETEC to cells possessing a brush border and to mucus secreting cells was also analysed by indirect immunofluorescence in HT29-MTX cells, which secrete mucins of gastric immunoreactivity. Fluorescein isothiocyanate labelling using specific anti-CFA/I antibody was used to show ETEC; rhodamine isothiocyanate labelling using a monoclonal antibody (designated M1) against purified human gastric mucus was used to detect secreted mucins, and rhodamine isothiocyanate labelling using a monoclonal antibody (designated 4H3) against human dipeptidylpeptidase IV was used to show cells possessing a brush border. Binding of bacteria colocalised with dipeptidylpeptidase IV of enterocytes and not with mucins.
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