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A secondary structure motif predictive of protein localization to the chlamydial inclusion membrane.

Bannantine JP, et al. Cell Microbiol. 2000.


Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular pathogens that spend their entire growth phase sequestered in a membrane-bound vacuole called an inclusion. A set of chlamydial proteins, labelled Inc proteins, has been identified in the inclusion membrane (IM). The predicted IncA, IncB and IncC amino acid sequences share very limited similarity, but a common hydrophobicity motif is present within each Inc protein. In an effort to identify a relatively complete catalogue of Chlamydia trachomatis proteins present in the IM of infected cells, we have screened the genome for open reading frames encoding this structural motif. Hydropathy plot analysis was used to screen each translated open reading frame in the C. trachomatis genome database. Forty-six candidate IM proteins (C-lncs) that satisfied the criteria of containing a bilobed hydrophobic domain of at least 50 amino acids were identified. The genome of Chlamydia pneumoniae encodes a larger collection of C-lnc proteins, and only approximately half of the C-lncs are encoded within both genomes. In order to confirm the hydropathy plot screening method as a valid predictor of C-lncs, antisera and/or monoclonal antibodies were prepared against six of the C. trachomatis C-lncs. Immunofluorescence microscopy of C. trachomatis-infected cells probed with these antibodies showed that five out of six C-lncs are present in the chlamydial IM. Antisera were also produced against C. pneumoniae p186, a protein sharing identity with Chlamydia psittaci lncA and carrying a similar bilobed hydrophobic domain. These antisera labelled the inclusion membrane in C. pneumoniae infected cells, confirming that proteins sharing the unique secondary structural characteristic also localize to the inclusion membrane of C. pneumoniae. Sera from patients with high-titre antibodies to C. trachomatis were examined for reactivity with each tested C-lnc protein. Three out of six tested C-lncs were recognized by a majority of these patient sera. Collectively, these studies identify and characterize novel proteins localized to the chlamydial IM and demonstrate the existence of a potential secondary structural targeting motif for localization of chlamydial proteins to this unique intracellular environment.


11207561 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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