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J Bacteriol. 1981 Apr;146(1):69-78.

Five structural classes of major outer membrane proteins in Neisseria meningitidis.


Group B Neisseria meningitidis is thus far subdivided into 15 protein serotypes based on antigenically different major outer membrane proteins. Most serotypes have three or four major proteins in their outer membranes. Comparative structural analysis by chymotryptic 125I-peptide mapping was performed on these major proteins from the prototype strains as well as from six non-serotypable strains. The major outer membrane proteins from each of the serotypes were first separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis using the Laemmli system. Individual proteins within the gel slices were radioiodinated and digested with chymotrypsin, and then their 125I-peptides were separated by electrophoresis and chromatography on cellulose thin-layer plates. The peptide maps obtained by autoradiography were categorized into five different structural classes which correlated with the apparent molecular weights of proteins, i.e., 46 +/- 1K, 41 +/- 1K, 38 +/- 1K, 33 +/- 1K, and 28 +/- 1K. Each of the major outer membrane proteins within a strain had a distinctly different chymotryptic peptide map, indicating significant differences in the primary structure of these proteins. In contrast, outer membrane proteins of the same or very similar molecular weight from different serotype strains had similar, occasionally identical peptide maps, indicating a high degree of structural homology. The unique peptides from proteins of the same structural classes were often hydrophilic, whereas common peptides were often hydrophobic, suggesting that the serotype determinants reside within the variable hydrophilic regions of major outer membrane proteins.

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