Pathogenic leptospires have the ability to survive and disseminate to multiple organs after penetrating the host. Several pathogens, including spirochetes, have been shown to express surface proteins that interact with the extracellular matrix (ECM). This adhesin-mediated binding process seems to be a crucial step in the colonization of host tissues. This study examined the interaction of putative leptospiral outer membrane proteins with laminin, collagen type I, collagen type IV, cellular fibronectin, and plasma fibronectin. Six predicted coding sequences selected from the Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni genome were cloned, and proteins were expressed, purified by metal affinity chromatography, and characterized by circular dichroism spectroscopy. Their capacity to mediate attachment to ECM components was evaluated by binding assays. We have identified a leptospiral protein encoded by LIC12906, named Lsa24 (leptospiral surface adhesin; 24 kDa) that binds strongly to laminin. Attachment of Lsa24 to laminin was specific, dose dependent, and saturable. Laminin oxidation by sodium metaperiodate reduced the protein-laminin interaction in a concentration-dependent manner, indicating that laminin sugar moieties are crucial for this interaction. Triton X-114-solubilized extract of L. interrogans and phase partitioning showed that Lsa24 was exclusively in the detergent phase, indicating that it is a component of the leptospiral membrane. Moreover, Lsa24 partially inhibited leptospiral adherence to immobilized laminin. This newly identified membrane protein may play a role in mediating adhesion of L. interrogans to the host. To our knowledge, this is the first leptospiral adhesin with laminin-binding properties reported to date.
Pathogenic Leptospira species are the etiological agents of leptospirosis, a widespread disease of human and veterinary concern. In this study, we report that Leptospira species are capable of binding plasminogen (PLG) in vitro. The binding to the leptospiral surface was demonstrated by indirect immunofluorescence confocal microscopy with living bacteria. The PLG binding to the bacteria seems to occur via lysine residues because the ligation is inhibited by addition of the lysine analog 6-aminocaproic acid. Exogenously provided urokinase-type PLG activator (uPA) converts surface-bound PLG into enzymatically active plasmin, as evaluated by the reaction with the chromogenic plasmin substrate D-Val-Leu-Lys 4-nitroanilide dihydrochloridein. The PLG activation system on the surface of Leptospira is PLG dose dependent and does not cause injury to the organism, as cellular growth in culture was not impaired. The generation of active plasmin within Leptospira was observed with several nonvirulent high-passage strains and with the nonpathogenic saprophytic organism Leptospira biflexa. Statistically significant higher activation of plasmin was detected with a low-passage infectious strain of Leptospira. Plasmin-coated virulent Leptospira interrogans bacteria were capable of degrading purified extracellular matrix fibronectin. The breakdown of fibronectin was not observed with untreated bacteria. Our data provide for the first time in vitro evidence for the generation of active plasmin on the surface of Leptospira, a step that may contribute to leptospiral invasiveness.
BackgroundLeptospirosis is a multisystem disease caused by pathogenic strains of the genus Leptospira. We have reported that Leptospira are able to bind plasminogen (PLG), to generate active plasmin in the presence of activator, and to degrade purified extracellular matrix fibronectin.Methodology/Principal FindingsWe have now cloned, expressed and purified 14 leptospiral recombinant proteins. The proteins were confirmed to be surface exposed by immunofluorescence microscopy and were evaluated for their ability to bind plasminogen (PLG). We identified eight as PLG-binding proteins, including the major outer membrane protein LipL32, the previously published rLIC12730, rLIC10494, Lp29, Lp49, LipL40 and MPL36, and one novel leptospiral protein, rLIC12238. Bound PLG could be converted to plasmin by the addition of urokinase-type PLG activator (uPA), showing specific proteolytic activity, as assessed by its reaction with the chromogenic plasmin substrate, D-Val-Leu-Lys 4-nitroanilide dihydrochloride. The addition of the lysine analog 6-aminocaproic acid (ACA) inhibited the protein-PLG interaction, thus strongly suggesting the involvement of lysine residues in plasminogen binding. The binding of leptospiral surface proteins to PLG was specific, dose-dependent and saturable. PLG and collagen type IV competed with LipL32 protein for the same binding site, whereas separate binding sites were observed for plasma fibronectin.Conclusions/SignificancePLG-binding/activation through the proteins/receptors on the surface of Leptospira could help the bacteria to specifically overcome tissue barriers, facilitating its spread throughout the host.
Background: It has been well documented over past decades that interaction of pathogens with the extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a primary role in host cell attachment and invasion. Adherence to host tissues is mediated by surface-exposed proteins expressed by the microorganisms during infection. The mechanisms by which pathogenic leptospires invade and colonize the host remain poorly understood since few virulence factors contributing to the pathogenesis of the disease have been identified. Whole-genome sequencing analysis of L. interrogans allowed identification of a repertoire of putative leptospiral surface proteins.
Leptospira interrogans is the etiological agent of leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease of human and veterinary concern. The identification of novel proteins that mediate host-pathogen interactions is important for understanding the bacterial pathogenesis as well as to identify protective antigens that would help fight the disease. We describe in this work the cloning, expression, purification and characterization of three predicted leptospiral membrane proteins, LIC10258, LIC12880 (Lp30) and LIC12238. We have employed Escherichia coli BL21 (SI) strain as a host expression system. Recently, we have identified LIC12238 as a plasminogen (PLG)-binding receptor. We show now that Lp30 and rLIC10258 are also PLG-receptors of Leptospira, both exhibiting dose-dependent and saturating binding (K
D, 68.8±25.2 nM and 167.39±60.1 nM, for rLIC10258 and rLIC12880, respectively). In addition, LIC10258, which is a novel OmpA-like protein, binds laminin and plasma fibronectin ECM molecules and hence, it was named Lsa66 (Leptospiral surface adhesin of 66 kDa). Binding of Lsa66 to ECM components was determined to be specific, dose-dependent and saturable, with a K
D of 55.4±15.9 nM to laminin and of 290.8±11.8 nM to plasma fibronectin. Binding of the recombinant proteins to PLG or ECM components was assessed by using antibodies against each of the recombinant proteins obtained in mice and confirmed by monoclonal anti-polyhistidine antibodies. Lsa66 caused partial inhibition on leptospiral adherence to immobilized ECM and PLG. Moreover, this adhesin and rLIC12238 are recognized by antibodies in serum samples of confirmed leptospirosis cases. Thus, Lsa66 is a novel OmpA-like protein with dual activity that may promote the attachment of Leptospira to host tissues and may contribute to the leptospiral invasion. To our knowledge, this is the first leptospiral protein with ECM and PLG binding properties reported to date.
Leptospirosis is an important global human and veterinary health problem. Humans can be infected by exposure to chronically infected animals and their environment. An important focus of the current leptospiral research is the identification of outer membrane proteins (OMPs). Due to their location, leptospiral OMPs are likely to be relevant in host-pathogen interactions, hence their potential ability to stimulate heterologous immunity. The existing whole-genome sequence of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni offers a unique opportunity to search for cell surface proteins. Predicted genes encoding potential surface proteins were amplified from genomic DNA by PCR methodology and cloned into an Escherichia coli expression system. The partially purified recombinant proteins were probed by Western blotting with sera from human patients diagnosed with leptospirosis. Sixteen proteins, out of a hundred tested, were recognized by antibodies present in human sera. Four of these proteins were conserved among eight serovars of L. interrogans and absent in the non-pathogenic Leptospira biflexa. These proteins might be useful for the diagnosis of the disease as well as potential vaccine candidates.
We have previously shown that pathogenic leptospiral strains are able to bind C4b binding protein (C4BP). Surface-bound C4BP retains its cofactor activity, indicating that acquisition of this complement regulator may contribute to leptospiral serum resistance. In the present study, the abilities of seven recombinant putative leptospiral outer membrane proteins to interact with C4BP were evaluated. The protein encoded by LIC11947 interacted with this human complement regulator in a dose-dependent manner. The cofactor activity of C4BP bound to immobilized recombinant LIC11947 (rLIC11947) was confirmed by detecting factor I-mediated cleavage of C4b. rLIC11947 was therefore named LcpA (for leptospiral complement regulator-acquiring protein A). LcpA was shown to be an outer membrane protein by using immunoelectron microscopy, cell surface proteolysis, and Triton X-114 fractionation. The gene coding for LcpA is conserved among pathogenic leptospiral strains. This is the first characterization of a Leptospira surface protein that binds to the human complement regulator C4BP in a manner that allows this important regulator to control complement system activation mediated either by the classical pathway or by the lectin pathway. This newly identified protein may play a role in immune evasion by Leptospira spp. and may therefore represent a target for the development of a human vaccine against leptospirosis.
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