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J Bacteriol. 1992 Feb;174(3):908-13.

Molecular characterization of the 28- and 31-kilodalton subunits of the Legionella pneumophila major outer membrane protein.

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Department of Microbiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


The major outer membrane protein of Legionella pneumophila exhibits an apparent molecular mass of 100 kDa. Previous studies revealed the oligomer to be composed of 28- and 31-kDa subunits; the latter subunit is covalently bound to peptidoglycan. These proteins exhibit cross-reactivity with polyclonal anti-31-kDa protein serum. In this study, we present evidence to confirm that the 31-kDa subunit is a 28-kDa subunit containing a bound fragment of peptidoglycan. Peptide maps of purified proteins were generated following cyanogen bromide cleavage or proteolysis with staphylococcal V8 protease. A comparison of the banding patterns resulting from sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) revealed a common pattern. Selected peptide fragments were sequenced on a gas phase microsequencer, and the sequence was compared with the sequence obtained for the 28-kDa protein. While the amino terminus of the 31-kDa protein was blocked, peptide fragments generated by cyanogen bromide treatment exhibited a sequence identical to that of the amino terminus of the 28-kDa protein, but beginning at amino acid four (glycine), which is preceded by methionine at the third position. This sequence, (Gly-Thr-Met)-Gly-Pro-Val-Trp-Thr-Pro-Gly-Asn ... , confirms that these proteins have a common amino terminus. An oligonucleotide synthesized from the codons of the common N-terminal amino acid sequence was used to establish by Southern and Northern (RNA) blot analyses that a single gene coded for both proteins. With regard to the putative porin structure, we have identified two major bands at 70 kDa and at approximately 120 kDa by nonreducing SDS-PAGE. The former may represent the typical trimeric motif, while the latter may represent either a double trimer or an aggregate. Analysis of these two forms by two-dimensional SDS-PAGE (first dimensions, nonreducing; second dimensions, reducing) established that both were composed of 31- and 28-kDa subunits cross-linked via interchain disulfide bonds. These studies confirm that the novel L. pneumophila major outer protein is covalently bound to peptidoglycan via a modified 28-kDa subunit (31-kDa anchor protein) and cross-linked to other 28-kDa subunits via interchain disulfide bonds.

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