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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jul 4;278(27):24825-30. Epub 2003 Apr 26.

Crystal structure of Neisserial surface protein A (NspA), a conserved outer membrane protein with vaccine potential.

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Department of Crystal and Structural Chemistry, Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The neisserial surface protein A (NspA) from Neisseria meningitidis is a promising vaccine candidate because it is highly conserved among meningococcal strains and induces bactericidal antibodies. NspA is a homolog of the Opa proteins, which mediate adhesion to host cells. Here, we present the crystal structure of NspA, determined to 2.55-A resolution. NspA forms an eight-stranded antiparallel beta-barrel. The four loops at the extracellular side of the NspA molecule form a long cleft, which contains mainly hydrophobic residues and harbors a detergent molecule, suggesting that the protein might function in the binding of hydrophobic ligands, such as lipids. In addition, the structure provides a starting point for structure-based vaccine design.

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