Bacterial Lactoferrin Receptors
Lactoferrin is thought to play a pivotal role in prevention of infection in the host and its ability to sequester iron from potential pathogens has been considered an important component of its antimicrobial function. A number of bacterial species in the Neisseriaceae have developed a mechanism for acquiring iron directly from this host glycoprotein which involves surface receptors capable of specifically binding lactoferrin. Initial attempts at identifying the receptor proteins in Neisseria and Moraxella species using affinity isolation with immobilized lactoferrin under high stringency conditions presumptively identified a single 100 kDa receptor protein, LbpA (formerly Lbpl). Under modified affinity isolation conditions a second 84 kDa lactoferrin binding protein was isolated and had been presumptively identified as LbpB. This protein was not isolated from a CopB -ve isogenic mutant of Moraxella catarrhalis, indicating that it was in fact CopB. However, another lactoferrin binding protein isolated under high stringency conditions, that comigrated with LbpA in most, but not all, M. catarrhalis strains, was identified by convalescent antisera. Its biochemical properties suggested that it indeed was LbpB. The identity of these proteins was confirmed by preparing isogenic mutants with the lbpA and IbpB genes. Growth studies with isogenic mutants deficient in LbpB, LbpA, CopB or FbpA were performed to evaluate their role in iron acquisition from lactoferrin. LbpA and FbpA were essential for this process, supporting prior models of the iron acquisition pathway. LbpB was not essential which is remniscent of studies with the bacterial transferrin receptors. The isogenic CopB -ve isogenic mutants were deficient in iron acquisition from both transferrin and lactoferrin, suggesting that it is a key component in both pathways. A model providing an alternate explanation of the data is presented. The role and surface accessibility of the lactoferrin receptor proteins suggests that they might be useful vaccine antigens and the preferentially reactivity of convalescent antisera with LbpB suggests that it may be the prime candidate.
KeywordsNeisseria Meningitidis Vaccine Antigen Iron Acquisition Moraxella Catarrhalis Surface Accessibility
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