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J Bacteriol. 2012 May;194(10):2509-19. doi: 10.1128/JB.06704-11. Epub 2012 Mar 2.

Glutamine synthetase and glucose-6-phosphate isomerase are adhesive moonlighting proteins of Lactobacillus crispatus released by epithelial cathelicidin LL-37.

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  • 1Division of General Microbiology, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Glutamine synthetase (GS) and glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (GPI) were identified as novel adhesive moonlighting proteins of Lactobacillus crispatus ST1. Both proteins were bound onto the bacterial surface at acidic pHs, whereas a suspension of the cells to pH 8 caused their release into the buffer, a pattern previously observed with surface-bound enolase and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) of L. crispatus. The pH shift was associated with a rapid and transient increase in cell wall permeability, as measured by cell staining with propidium iodide. A gradual increase in the release of the four moonlighting proteins was also observed after the treatment of L. crispatus ST1 cells with increasing concentrations of the antimicrobial cationic peptide LL-37, which kills bacteria by disturbing membrane integrity and was here observed to increase the cell wall permeability of L. crispatus ST1. At pH 4, the fusion proteins His(6)-GS, His(6)-GPI, His(6)-enolase, and His(6)-GAPDH showed localized binding to cell division septa and poles of L. crispatus ST1 cells, whereas no binding to Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG was detected. Strain ST1 showed a pH-dependent adherence to the basement membrane preparation Matrigel. Purified His(6)-GS and His(6)-GPI proteins bound to type I collagen, and His(6)-GS also bound to laminin, and their level of binding was higher at pH 5.5 than at pH 6.5. His(6)-GS also expressed a plasminogen receptor function. The results show the strain-dependent surface association of moonlighting proteins in lactobacilli and that these proteins are released from the L. crispatus surface after cell trauma, under conditions of alkaline stress, or in the presence of the antimicrobial peptide LL-37 produced by human cells.

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