Bacterial adhesion to host tissue is an initial step in the infectious process. Staphylococcus aureus, a major human pathogen, has covalently anchored cell surface adhesins called microbial surface components recognizing adhesive matrix molecules (MSCRAMMs) which mediate specific adhesion to extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules. Understanding MSCRAMM binding is potentially useful in developing effective antibacterial drugs. In this study, optical tweezers were used in conjunction with a quadrant photodetector to measure adhesive forces between MSCRAMMs and surfaces coated with the ECM molecule fibronectin.
Using a piezoelectrically driven stage, a fibronectin-coated microsphere adherent to a coverslip was brought into contact with a cell optically trapped at 830 nm. The microsphere was subsequently moved away from the cell, and a quadrant photodiode monitored the cell displacement from the trap center during the detachment process. The photodetector voltage signals were subsequently converted into the adhesive forces between MSCRAMMs and fibronectin based on a calibration using Stoke’s law for viscous drag. Optical detection of the trapped bead displacement allowed us to study both the dynamics of the detachment process and observe the effects of various loading rates. This technique can be extended to identify the contributions of various MSCRAMM domains to adhesion in order to develop new methods of treating infections.
Bacterial adhesion is a primary cause of failure in implanted medical devices. Bacteria commonly found in device-related infections, such as S. aureus, have multiple cell surface adhesins which mediate specific adhesion to molecules found in extracellular matrix and blood plasma. Adhesins recognizing fibrinogen, fibronectin, collagen, and elastin molecules have been isolated in S. aureus. We have used optical tweezers to measure the adhesive force between a single bacterium and a protein-coated surface. Various concentrations of fibronectin, fibrinogen, or whole plasma were immobilized onto 10-micrometers diameter polystyrene microspheres. We optically trapped a bacterium with a titanium-sapphire laser tuned to 830 nm and contacted the cell with a coated bead. We determined the minimum force necessary to separate the cell and bead. For beads coated with fibronectin and fibrinogen, detachment force values occurred as approximate integer multiples of an estimated single bond detachment force. With plasma-coated beads, only cells lacking the fibrinogen adhesin could be detached; therefore, we believe that either this adhesin is prevalent on wilde-type cells, or it is preferentially adsorbed onto the beads. Additionally, the whole plasma detachment forces appeared random; therefore, we believe that many adhesins participate in boding to plasma.