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Keywords:

  • Autotransporter;
  • In vivo expression;
  • Outer membrane protein;
  • Adhesin;
  • Neisseria meningitidis

Abstract

The genome sequences of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B strain MC58 and serogroup A strain Z2491 were systematically searched for open reading frames (ORFs) encoding autotransporters. Eight ORFs were identified, six of which were present in both genomes, whereas two were specific for MC58. Among the identified ORFs was the gene encoding the known autotransporter IgA1 protease. The deduced amino acid sequences of the other identified ORFs were homologous to known autotransporters and found to contain an N-terminal signal sequence and a C-terminal domain that could constitute a β-barrel in the outer membrane. The ORFs NMB1985 and NMB0992, encoding homologs of the Hap (for H aemophilusa dhesion and p enetration protein) and Hia (for H aemophilus i nfluenzaea dherence protein) autotransporters of H. influenzae, were cloned from serogroup B strain H44/76 and expressed in Escherichia coli. Western blots revealed that all sera of patients (n=14) and healthy carriers (n=3) tested contained antibodies against at least one of the recombinant proteins. These results indicate that both genes are widely distributed among N. meningitidis isolates and expressed during colonization and infection.