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J Bacteriol. 2013 Oct;195(19):4425-35. doi: 10.1128/JB.00625-13. Epub 2013 Jul 26.

Comparative proteome analysis of spontaneous outer membrane vesicles and purified outer membranes of Neisseria meningitidis.

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Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) of Gram-negative bacteria receive increasing attention because of various biological functions and their use as vaccines. However, the mechanisms of OMV release and selective sorting of proteins into OMVs remain unclear. Comprehensive quantitative proteome comparisons between spontaneous OMVs (SOMVs) and the outer membrane (OM) have not been conducted so far. Here, we established a protocol for metabolic labeling of neisserial proteins with (15)N. SOMV and OM proteins labeled with (15)N were used as an internal standard for proteomic comparison of the SOMVs and OMs of two different strains. This labeling approach, coupled with high-sensitivity mass spectrometry, allowed us to comprehensively unravel the proteome of the SOMVs and OMs. We quantified the relative distribution of 155 proteins between SOMVs and the OM. Complement regulatory proteins, autotransporters, proteins involved in iron and zinc acquisition, and a two-partner secretion system were enriched in SOMVs. The highly abundant porins PorA and PorB and proteins connecting the OM with peptidoglycan or the inner membrane, such as RmpM, MtrE, and PilQ, were depleted in SOMVs. Furthermore, the three lytic transglycosylases MltA, MltB, and Slt were less abundant in SOMVs. In conclusion, SOMVs are likely to be released from surface areas with a low local abundance of membrane-anchoring proteins and lytic transglycosylases. The enrichment of complement regulatory proteins, autotransporters, and trace metal binding and transport proteins needs to be explored in the context of the pathogenesis of meningococcal disease.

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