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Keywords:

  • Campylobacter;
  • MOMP;
  • membrane protein;
  • conformational epitope;
  • antibody;
  • chicken

Abstract

The major outer membrane protein (MOMP) of Campylobacter jejuni is an abundant surface protein with a pore-forming function and may be a potential candidate for vaccine development. Despite the fact that MOMP is immunogenic and the recombinant MOMP (rMOMP) can be readily produced in Escherichia coli, the nature of the antibody response to MOMP during in vivo infection is not well understood. In this study, various methods involving detergent replacement and liposome reconstitution were used to refold rMOMP, and antibody responses to MOMP elicited in Campylobacter-colonized chickens were evaluated using sera from chickens either naturally or experimentally infected by C. jejuni. The results demonstrated that proteoliposomes restored the reactivity of rMOMP to rabbit antibodies elicited by native MOMP, indicating the recovery of native MOMP conformation by this refolding method. Importantly, sera from naturally or experimentally infected chickens reacted weakly with denatured rMOMP, but strongly with rMOMP reconstituted in proteoliposome, suggesting that the chicken antibody response to MOMP is predominantly directed against conformational epitopes. These observations provide direct evidence for conformation-dependent humoral responses to MOMP induced by Campylobacter infection, demonstrate that C. jejuni MOMP is immunogenic in its natural host and suggest that proteoliposomes may be potentially used for the evaluation of rMOMP-based vaccines.