Plasminogen binding by bacteria is a virulence factor important for the entry and dissemination of bacteria in the body. A wide variety of bacteria bind plasminogen, including both organisms causing disease and components of the normal oral flora. The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics of plasminogen binding by six clinical isolates of oral streptococci from both dental plaque and inflammatory lesions. All the strains bound plasminogen with approximately the same affinity, and binding was specific and lysine-dependent as evidenced by its inhibition by e-aminocaproic acid. All of the test strains were capable of activating bound plasminogen to plasmin without the addition of a plasminogen activator, and subsequent analysis revealed the presence of streptokinase in all strains. However, the streptococci exhibited fibrinolytic activity only in the presence of plasminogen and this could be inhibited by the addition of epsilon-aminocaproic acid. SDS-PAGE and 2D gel electrophoresis coupled with plasminogen ligand blotting showed that only a subset of the total proteins (2-15) were involved in the binding of plasminogen. Partial identification of the binding proteins revealed that four glycolytic enzymes, enolase, phosphoglycerate, kinase, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and phosphoglycerate mutase, were predominant in binding plasminogen. The binding of plasminogen by bacteria from pus did not differ from that of the strains from supragingival plaque. The findings illustrate how apparently innocuous commensal bacteria are capable of utilizing a mechanism that is generally regarded as being of importance to pathogenicity and suggest an additional role of plasminogen binding.
- group-a streptococci