Characterization of a novel protein of Leptospira interrogans exhibiting plasminogen, vitronectin and complement binding properties

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Leptospirosis is a severe zoonosis caused by pathogenic species of the genus Leptospira. This work focuses on a hypothetical protein of unknown function, encoded by the gene LIC13259, and predicted to be a surface protein, widely distributed among pathogenic leptospiral strain. The gene was amplified from L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni, strain Fiocruz L1-130, cloned and the protein expressed using Escherichia coli as a host system. Immunofluorescence assay showed that the protein is surface-exposed. The recombinant protein LIC13259 (rLIC13259) has the ability to interact with the extracellular matrix (ECM) laminin, in a dose-dependent manner but saturation was not reach. The rLIC13259 protein is a plasminogen (PLG)-binding protein, generating plasmin, in the presence of urokinase PLG-activator uPA. The recombinant protein is able to mediate the binding to human purified terminal complement route vitronectin, C7, C8 and C9, and to recruit and interact with these components from normal human serum (NHS). These interactions are dose-dependent on NHS increased concentration. The binding of rLIC13259 to C8 and vitronectin was slight and pronounced inhibited in the presence of increasing heparin concentration, respectively, suggesting that the interaction with vitronectin occurs via heparin domain. Most interesting, the interaction of rLIC13259 with C9 protein was capable of preventing C9 polymerization, suggesting that the membrane attack complex (MAC) formation was inhibited. Thus, we tentatively assign the coding sequence (CDS) LIC13259, previously annotated as unknown function, as a novel protein that may play an important role in the host’s invasion and immune evasion processes, contributing to the establishment of the leptospiral infection.
Pereira MFC, Teixeira ARF, Filho AS., Souza GO., Vasconcellos SA., Heinemann MB., et al. Characterization of a novel protein of Leptospira interrogans exhibiting plasminogen, vitronectin and complement binding properties. Int J Med Microbiol. 2019 Mar;309(2):116-129. doi:10.1016/j.ijmm.2018.12.005.
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