All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Kevin Dybvig

Advisory Committee Members

Scott Barnum

William Benjamin

David Briles

Susan Hollingshead

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Heersink School of Medicine


The recently characterized exopolysaccharide of Mycoplasma pulmonis, EPS-I, has been identified as modulating the susceptibility to complement-mediated lysis and binding to host mucosal epithelium. M. pulmonis produces family of size- and phase-variable lipoproteins called Vsa. Previous evidence has strongly demonstrated that the length of the tandem repeat region of the M. pulmonis Vsa protein is associated with the susceptibility to the host innate immune system through complement-mediated lysis. Mycoplasmas producing a long form of Vsa, containing about 40 repeats, are resistant complement whereas strains that produce the short form of Vsa, 5 repeats or fewer, are susceptible. Furthermore, the size of the Vsa protein modulates the adherence to both abiotic and biotic surfaces with the long Vsa producing mycoplasmas exhibiting significantly less adherence than do the short Vsa producing mycoplasmas. We demonstrate that both EPS-I and the length of the Vsa protein contributes to the cytoadherence of mycoplasmas to murine pulmonary epithelial cells as well as to the resistance to complement-mediated lysis.