• Moraxella catarrhalis;
  • Outer membrane proteins;
  • Subpopulations


Moraxella catarrhalis is a major mucosal pathogen of the human respiratory tract both in children and in adults. Two subpopulations of this organism have been described that differ in 16S rRNA gene sequence and virulence traits. Three 16S rRNA types have been defined. 2-DE followed by protein identification by MS revealed significant differences in the outer membrane protein (OMP) patterns of each M. catarrhalis 16S rRNA type. Approximately 130 features were detected on the 2-DE map of each M. catarrhalis 16S rRNA type. However, only 50 features were expressed by all strains. Furthermore, direct profiling of isolated OMP using MALDI-TOF MS resulted in a characteristic spectral fingerprint for each 16S rRNA type. Fingerprints remained identical when intact cells instead of isolated OMP were analyzed. This finding suggests that the source of desorbed ions is the outer membrane. Based on the fingerprint we were able to assign 18 well-characterized clinical M. catarrhalis isolates to the correct subpopulation. Therefore, MALDI-TOF of intact M. catarrhalis provides a rapid and robust tool for M. catarrhalis strain typing that could be applied in epidemiological studies.