Identification of a novel protein in the genome sequences of Leptospira interrogans with the ability to interact with host's components

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Background Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that affects humans and animals worldwide. The etiological agents of this disease are the pathogenic species of the genus Leptospira. The mechanisms involved in the leptospiral pathogenesis are not full understood. The elucidation of novel mediators of host-pathogen interaction is important in the detection of virulence factors involved in the pathogenesis of leptospirosis. Objective This work focused on identification and characterization of a hypothetical protein of Leptospira encoded by the gene LIC10920. Methods The protein of unknown function was predicted to be surface exposed. Therefore, the LIC10920 gene was cloned and the protein expressed in Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3) Star pLysS strain. The recombinant protein was purified by metal affinity chromatography and evaluated with leptospirosis human serum samples. The interaction with host components was also performed. Results The recombinant protein was recognized by antibodies present in leptopsirosis human serum, suggesting its expression during infection. Immunofluorescence and intact bacteria assays indicated that the bacterial protein is surface-exposed. The recombinant protein interacted with human laminin, in a dose-dependent and saturable manner and was named Lsa24.9, for Leptospiral surface adhesin, followed by its molecular mass. Lsa24.9 also binds plasminogen (PLG) in a dose-dependent and saturable fashion, fulfilling receptor ligand interaction. Moreover, Lsa24.9 has the ability to acquire PLG from normal human serum, exhibiting similar profile as observed with the human purified component. PLG bound Lsa24.9 was able of generating plasmin, which could increase the proteolytic power of the bacteria. Conclusions This novel leptospiral protein may function as an adhesin at the colonization steps and may help the invasion process by plasmin generation at the bacterial cell surface.
Rossini AD, Teixeira ARF, Souza Filho A., Souza G.O., Vasconcellos S.A., Heinemann M.B., et al. Identification of a novel protein in the genome sequences of Leptospira interrogans with the ability to interact with host's components. J. Microbiol. Immunol. Infect.. 2020 Feb;53(1):163-175. doi:10.1016/j.jmii.2018.12.012.
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