The opportunistic human pathogen Staphylococcus epidermidis is the major cause of nosocomial biomaterial infections. S. epidermidis has the ability to attach to indwelling materials coated with extracellular matrix proteins such as fibrinogen, fibronectin, vitronectin, and collagen. To identify the proteins necessary for S. epidermidis attachment to collagen, we screened an expression library using digoxigenin-labeled collagen as well as two monoclonal antibodies generated against the Staphylococcus aureus collagen-adhesin, Cna, as probes. These monoclonal antibodies recognize collagen binding epitopes on the surface of S. aureus and S. epidermidis cells. Using this approach, we identified GehD, the extracellular lipase originally found in S. epidermidis 9, as a collagen-binding protein. Despite the monoclonal antibody cross-reactivity, the GehD amino acid sequence and predicted structure are radically different from those of Cna. The mature GehD circular dichroism spectra differs from that of Cna but strongly resembles that of a mammalian cell-surface collagen binding receptor, known as the α1 integrin I domain, suggesting that they have:similar secondary structures. The GehD protein is translated as a preproenzyme, secreted, and post-translationally processed into mature lipase. GehD does not have the conserved LPXTG C-terminal motif present in cell wall-anchored proteins, but it can be detected in lysostaphin cell wall extracts. A recombinant version of mature GehD binds to collagens type I, II, and IV adsorbed onto microtiter plates in a dose-dependent saturable manner. Recombinant, mature GehD protein and anti-GehD antibodies can inhibit the attachment of S. epidermidis to immobilized collagen. These results provide evidence that GehD may be a bi-functional molecule, acting not only as a lipase but also as a cell surface-associated collagen adhesin.
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