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Infect Immun. 1999 Jun;67(6):2901-8.

Identification and molecular analysis of rough-colony-specific outer membrane proteins of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans.

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Department of Oral Biology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York 14214, USA.


Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, a gram-negative bacterium isolated from the human mouth, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of early-onset periodontitis. Primary isolates cultured from subgingival plaque exhibit an adherent, rough colony phenotype which spontaneously converts to a nonadherent, smooth phenotype upon in vitro subculture. The rough colony variant produces abundant fimbriae and autoaggregates, while the smooth colony variant is planktonic and produces scant fimbriae. To begin to understand the significance of colony variation in biofilm formation by A. actinomycetemcomitans, outer membrane protein profiles of four isogenic rough and smooth colony variants were compared by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Two proteins with relative molecular masses of 43 and 20 kDa were expressed by the rough colony variants exclusively. Expression of these proteins was not found to be dependent on growth phase, oxygen tension, or type of complex medium. N-terminal amino acid sequences of these proteins obtained by Edman degradation were compared with sequences from the University of Oklahoma A. actinomycetemcomitans genome database. Two contiguous open reading frames (ORFs) encoding proteins having sequence homology with these proteins were identified. The 43-kDa protein (RcpA [rough colony protein A]) was similar to precursor protein D of the general secretion pathway of gram-negative bacilli, while the 20-kDa protein (RcpB [rough colony protein B]) appeared to be unique. The genes encoding these proteins have been cloned from A. actinomycetemcomitans 283 and sequenced. A BLASTX (gapped BLAST) search of the surrounding ORFs revealed homology with other fimbria-related proteins. These data suggest that the genes encoding the 43-kDa (rcpA) and 20-kDa (rcpB) proteins may be functionally related to each other and to genes that may encode fimbria-associated proteins.

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