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Infect Immun. 1995 Feb;63(2):622-31.

DNA sequence of the serum opacity factor of group A streptococci: identification of a fibronectin-binding repeat domain.

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  • 1Laboratory of Bacterial pathogenesis and Immunology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021.


The serum opacity factor (SOF) is a group A streptococcal protein that induces opacity of mammalian serum. The serum opacity factor 22 gene (sof22) from an M type 22 strain was cloned from an EMBL4 library by screening for plaques exhibiting serum opacity activity. DNA sequencing yielded an open reading frame of 3,075 bp. Its deduced amino acid sequence predicts a protein of 1,025 residues with a molecular weight of 112,735, a size that approximates that of the SOF22 protein isolated from both the original streptococcal strain and Escherichia coli harboring the cloned sof22 gene. The molecule is composed of three domains: an N-terminal domain responsible for the opacity reaction (opacity domain), a repeat domain with fibronectin-binding (Fn-binding) activity, and a C-terminal cell attachment domain. The C-terminal end of SOF22 is characterized by a hexameric LPXTGX motif, an adjacent hydrophobic region, and a charged C terminus, which are the hallmarks of cell-bound surface proteins found on nearly all gram-positive bacteria. Immediately upstream of this cell anchor region, SOF22 contains four tandem repeat sequence blocks, flanked by prolinerich segments. The repeats share up to 50% identity with a repeated motif found in other group A streptococcal Fn-binding proteins and exhibit Fn-binding activity, as shown by subcloning experiments. According to deletion analysis, the opacity domain is confined to the region N terminal to the repeat segment. Thus, SOF22 is unique among the known Fn-binding proteins from gram-positive bacteria in containing an independent module with a defined function in its N-terminal portion. Southern blot analysis with a probe from this N-terminal region indicates that the opacity domain of SOF varies extensively among different SOF-producing M types.

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