Streptococcus agalactiae is an etiological agent of several infective diseases in humans. We previously demonstrated that FbsA, a fibrinogen-binding protein expressed by this bacterium, elicits a fibrinogen-dependent aggregation of platelets. In the present communication, we show that the binding of FbsA to fibrinogen is specific and saturable, and that the FbsA-binding site resides in the D region of fibrinogen. In accordance with the repetitive nature of the protein, we found that FbsA contains multiple binding sites for fibrinogen. By using several biophysical methods, we provide evidence that the addition of FbsA induces extensive fibrinogen aggregation and has noticeable effects on thrombin-catalyzed fibrin clot formation. Fibrinogen aggregation was also found to depend on FbsA concentration and on the number of FbsA repeat units. Scanning electron microscopy evidentiated that, while fibrin clot is made of a fine fibrillar network, FbsA-induced Fbg aggregates consist of thicker fibers organized in a cage-like structure. The structural difference of the two structures was further indicated by the diverse immunological reactivity and capability to bind tissue-type plasminogen activator or plasminogen. The mechanisms of FbsA-induced fibrinogen aggregation and fibrin polymerization followed distinct pathways since Fbg assembly was not inhibited by GPRP, a specific inhibitor of fibrin polymerization. This finding was supported by the different sensitivity of the aggregates to the disruptive effects of urea and guanidine hydrochloride. We suggest that FbsA and fibrinogen play complementary roles in contributing to thrombogenesis associated with S. agalactiae infection.
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