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Infect Immun. 1996 Oct;64(10):4255-60.

A protective surface protein from type V group B streptococci shares N-terminal sequence homology with the alpha C protein.

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Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Infection by group B streptococci (GBS) is an important cause of bacterial disease in neonates, pregnant women, and nonpregnant adults. Historically, serotypes Ia, Ib, II, and III have been most prevalent among disease cases; recently, type V strains have emerged as important strains in the United States and elsewhere. In addition to type-specific capsular polysaccharides, many GBS strains possess surface proteins which demonstrate a laddering pattern on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and resistance to trypsin digestion. These include the alpha C protein, the R proteins, and protein Rib. Some of these proteins elicit protective antibodies in animals. We demonstrate a trypsin-resistant laddering protein purified from a type V GBS strain by mutanolysin extraction and column chromatography. This protein contains a major 90-kDa band and a series of smaller bands spaced approximately 10 kDa apart on SDS-PAGE. Cross-reactivity of the type V protein with the alpha C protein and with R1 was demonstrated on Western blot (immunoblot). N-terminal sequence analysis of the protein revealed residue identity with 17 of 18 residues at corresponding positions on the alpha protein. Western blot of SDS extracts of 41 clinical type V isolates with rabbit antiserum to the protein demonstrated a homologous protein in 25 isolates (61%); two additional strains exhibited a heterologous pattern which was also demonstrated with 4G8, a monoclonal antibody directed to the alpha C protein repeat region. Rabbit antiserum raised to the type V protein conferred protection in neonatal mice against a type V strain bearing a homologous protein. These data support the hypothesis that there exists a family of trypsin-resistant, laddering GBS surface proteins which may play a role in immunity to GBS infection.

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