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Mol Microbiol. 1997 Mar;23(6):1147-55.

Molecular characterization of the Bacillus anthracis main S-layer component: evidence that it is the major cell-associated antigen.

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1
Laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire des Toxines (URA 1858, CNRS), Paris, France.

Abstract

Bacillus anthracis, the aetiological agent of anthrax, is a Gram-positive spore-forming bacterium. The cell wall of vegetative cells of B. anthracis is surrounded by an S-layer. An array remained when sap, a gene described as encoding an S-layer component, was deleted. The remaining S-layer component, termed EA1, is chromosomally encoded. The gene encoding EA1 (eag) was obtained on two overlapping fragments in Escherichia coli and shown to be continuous to the sap gene. The EA1 amino acid sequence, deduced from the eag nucleotide sequence, shows classical S-layer protein features (no cysteine, only 0.1% methionine, 10% lysine, and a weakly acidic pl). Similar to Sap and other Gram-positive surface proteins, EA1 has three 'S-layer-homology' motifs immediately downstream from a signal peptide. Single- and double-disrupted mutants were constructed. EA1 and Sap were co-localized at the cell surface of the wild-type bacilli. However, EA1 was more tightly bound than Sap to the bacteria. Electron microscopy studies and in vivo experiments with the constructed mutants showed that EA1 constitutes the main lattice of the B. anthracis S-layer, and is the major cell-associated antigen.

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