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J Bacteriol. 1993 Jul;175(13):4225-34.

Molecular cloning and sequence analysis of the gene encoding OmpL1, a transmembrane outer membrane protein of pathogenic Leptospira spp.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center, California 90073.


Pathogenic Leptospira spp. are spirochetes that have a low transmembrane outer membrane protein content relative to that of enteric gram-negative bacteria. In a previous study we identified a 31-kDa surface protein that was present in strains of Leptospira alstoni in amounts which correlated with the outer membrane particle density observed by freeze fracture electron microscopy (D. A. Haake, E. M. Walker, D. R. Blanco, C. A. Bolin, J. N. Miller, and M. A. Lovett, Infect. Immun. 59:1131-1140, 1991). The N-terminal amino acid sequence was used to design a pair of oligonucleotides which were utilized to screen a lambda ZAP II library containing EcoRI fragments of L. alstoni DNA. A 2.5-kb DNA fragment which contained the entire structural ompL1 gene was identified. The structural gene deduced from the sequence of this DNA fragment would encode a 320-amino-acid polypeptide with a 24-amino-acid leader peptide and a leader peptidase I cleavage site. Processing of OmpL1 results in a mature protein with a predicted molecular mass of 31,113 Da. Secondary-structure prediction identified repeated stretches of amphipathic beta-sheets typical of outer membrane protein membrane-spanning sequences. A topological model of OmpL1 containing 10 transmembrane segments is suggested. A recombinant OmpL1 fusion protein was expressed in Escherichia coli in order to immunize rabbits with the purified protein. Upon Triton X-114 extraction of L. alstoni and phase separation, anti-OmpL1 antiserum recognized a single band on immunoblots of the hydrophobic detergent fraction which was not present in the hydrophilic aqueous fraction. Immunoelectron microscopy with anti-OmpL1 antiserum demonstrates binding to the surface of intact L. alstoni. DNA hybridization studies indicate that the ompL1 gene is present in a single copy in all pathogenic Leptospira species that have been tested and is absent in nonpathogenic Leptospira species. OmpL1 may be the first spirochetal transmembrane outer membrane protein for which the structural gene has been cloned and sequenced.

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