UafB is a serine-rich repeat adhesin of Staphylococcus saprophyticus that mediates binding to fibronectin, fibrinogen and human uroepithelial cells
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Staphylococcus saprophyticus is an important cause of urinary tract infection (UTI), particularly among young women, and is second only to uropathogenic Escherichia coli as the most frequent cause of UTI. The molecular mechanisms of urinary tract colonization by S. saprophyticus remain poorly understood. We have identified a novel 6.84 kb plasmid-located adhesin-encoding gene in S. saprophyticus strain MS1146 which we have termed uro-adherence factor B (uafB). UafB is a glycosylated serine-rich repeat protein that is expressed on the surface of S. saprophyticus MS1146. UafB also functions as a major cell surface hydrophobicity factor. To characterize the role of UafB we generated an isogenic uafB mutant in S. saprophyticus MS1146 by interruption with a group II intron. The uafB mutant had a significantly reduced ability to bind to fibronectin and fibrinogen. Furthermore, we show that a recombinant protein containing the putative binding domain of UafB binds specifically to fibronectin and fibrinogen. UafB was not involved in adhesion in a mouse model of UTI; however, we observed a striking UafB-mediated adhesion phenotype to human uroepithelial cells. We have also identified genes homologous to uafB in other staphylococci which, like uafB, appear to be located on transposable elements. Thus, our data indicate that UafB is a novel adhesin of S. saprophyticus that contributes to cell surface hydrophobicity, mediates adhesion to fibronectin and fibrinogen, and exhibits tropism for human uroepithelial cells.