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Microbiology. 2007 Aug;153(Pt 8):2447-57.

Molecular heterogeneity of EmaA, an oligomeric autotransporter adhesin of Aggregatibacter (Actinobacillus) actinomycetemcomitans.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA.


Adhesion of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans to extracellular matrix proteins is mediated by antennae-like surface structures composed of EmaA oligomers. EmaA is an outer-membrane protein orthologous to the autotransporter YadA, a virulence determinant of Yersinia. emaA was present in the 27 strains examined, covering the six serotypes of A. actinomycetemcomitans. Ten individual genotypes and three different forms of the protein (full-length, intermediate and truncated) were predicted. The prototypic, full-length EmaA (202 kDa) was only associated with serotypes b and c, which displayed antennae-like surface structures. These strains bound to collagen embedded in a 3D matrix. The intermediate form of EmaA (173 kDa) was exclusively associated with serotypes d and a, which contained a 279 aa in-frame deletion, as well as a different N-terminal head domain sequence. These differences modified the appearance of the EmaA structures on the cell surface but maintained collagen-binding activity. Strains containing the truncated form of EmaA had single or multiple substitutions, deletions or insertions in the sequences, which resulted in the absence of EmaA molecules on the outer membrane and loss of collagen-binding activity. Population structure analyses of this organism, based on emaA, indicated that serotypes b and c belonged to one subpopulation, which was independent of the other serotypes. The main divergence was found in the functional head domain. The conserved emaA genotype within serotypes suggests a stable clonal linkage between this autotransporter protein and other virulence determinants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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