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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1998 Nov;5(6):845-55.

Proposed standardization of Neisseria meningitidis PorA variable-region typing nomenclature.

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Division of Medical Biology, Bacteriology Department, Adolfo Lutz Institute, São Paulo, Brazil.


Neisseria meningitidis isolates are conventionally classified by serosubtyping, which characterizes the reactivities of the PorA outer membrane protein variable-region (VR) epitopes with monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). A newer method (PorA VR typing) uses predicted amino acid sequences derived from DNA sequence analysis. The resulting classification schemes are not standardized, offering conflicting and sometimes irreconcilable data from the two methods. In this paper, we propose a standardization of the PorA VR typing nomenclature that incorporates serologic information from traditional PorA serosubtyping with molecular data from predicted VR sequences. We performed a comprehensive literature and database search, generating a collection of strains and DNA sequences that reflects the diversity within PorA that exists to date. We have arranged this information in a comprehensive logical model that includes both serosubtype and PorA VR type assignments. Our data demonstrate that the current panel of serosubtype-defining MAbs underestimates PorA VR variability by at least 50%. Our proposal for VR typing is informative because amino acid sequence and serologic information, when serosubtype-defining MAbs are available, can be deduced simultaneously from the PorA VR designation. This scheme will be useful in future classification and applied epidemiologic studies of N. meningitidis, being a systematic way of selecting PorA vaccine candidates and analyzing vaccine coverage and failure.

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