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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Jan;27(1):51-61.

Haemoglobin receptor protein is intragenically encoded by the cysteine proteinase-encoding genes and the haemagglutinin-encoding gene of Porphyromonas gingivalis.

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Department of Microbiology, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.


The obligately anaerobic bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis produces characteristic black-pigmented colonies on blood agar. It is thought that the black pigmentation is caused by haem accumulation and is related to virulence of the microorganism. P. gingivalis cells expressed a prominent 19 kDa protein when grown on blood agar plates. Analysis of its N-terminal amino acid sequence indicated that the 19 kDa protein was encoded by an internal region (HGP15 domain) of an arginine-specific cysteine proteinase (Arg-gingipain, RGP)-encoding gene (rgp1) and was also present in genes for lysine-specific cysteine proteinases (prtP and kgp) and a haemagglutinin (hagA) of P. gingivalis. The HGP15 domain protein was purified from an HGP15-overproducing Escherichia coli and was found to have the ability to bind to haemoglobin in a pH-dependent manner. The anti-HGP15 antiserum reacted with the 19 kDa haemoglobin-binding protein in the envelope of P. gingivalis. P. gingivalis wild-type strain showed pH-dependent haemoglobin adsorption, whereas its non-pigmented mutants that produced no HGP15-related proteins showed deficiency in haemoglobin adsorption. These results strongly indicate a close relationship among HGP15 production, haemoglobin adsorption and haem accumulation of P. gingivalis.

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