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FEBS Lett. 2007 May 1;581(9):1716-20. Epub 2007 Mar 30.

The surface protease PgtE of Salmonella enterica affects complement activity by proteolytically cleaving C3b, C4b and C5.

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Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Viikinkaari 9c, P.O. Box 56 FIN-00014, 00014 Helsinki, Finland. <>


Complement activity in mammalian serum is fundamentally based on three homologous components C3b, C4b and C5. During systemic infection, the gastrointestinal pathogen Salmonella enterica disseminates within host phagocytic cells but also extracellularly. Consequently, systemic Salmonella transiently confronts the complement system. We show here that the surface protease PgtE of S. enterica proteolytically cleaves C3b, C4b and C5 and that the expression of PgtE enhances bacterial resistance to human serum. Degradation of C3b was further enhanced by PgtE-mediated plasminogen activation.

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