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J Bacteriol. 2010 Nov;192(22):6017-24. doi: 10.1128/JB.00847-10. Epub 2010 Sep 17.

Characterization of Pgp3, a Chlamydia trachomatis plasmid-encoded immunodominant antigen.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.


Human antibody recognition of Chlamydia trachomatis plasmid-encoded Pgp3 protein is dependent on the native conformation of Pgp3. The structural basis for the conformation dependence and the function of Pgp3 remain unknown. Here, we report that Pgp3 trimerization is required for the recognition of Pgp3 by human antibodies. In a native polyacrylamide gel, Pgp3 purified from a bacterial expression system migrated as stable trimers that were dissociated into monomers only by treatment with urea or sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) but not nonionic detergents. Human antibodies recognized trimeric but not monomeric Pgp3, suggesting that Pgp3 is presented to the human immune system as trimers during C. trachomatis infection. The endogenous Pgp3 secreted into the chlamydial outer membrane complex or host cell cytosol is always trimerized. Intact Pgp3 trimers were eluted from the outer membrane complex by a combination of nonionic detergents with reducing agents but not by the presence of either alone. These observations have provided important information for further understanding the role of Pgp3 in chlamydial pathogenesis and potentially optimizing Pgp3 as a subunit vaccine candidate antigen.

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