A monoclonal antibody (A4.85) which reacted with Fe-regulated proteins of Neisseria meningitidis, was used to isolate a λgt11 clone from N. meningitidis FAM20. Chromosomal fragments flanking the fragment expressing the A4.85 epitope were cloned, and their DNA sequences revealed a 3,345-bp open reading frame predicting a 122-kDa protein. This gene was named frpA (Fe-regulated protein). A computer similarity search of GenBank revealed high levels of similarity to members of the RTX family of cytotoxins, especially in a region of tandem 9-amino-acid repeats. These repeats are found in all members of the RTX family; similar repeats were present 13 times in the predicted FrpA protein. Antigenic relatedness between the meningococcal proteins and the RTX proteins was demonstrated by the reactivity of A4.85 with Escherichia coli hemolysin (HlyA) and Bordetella pertussis adenylate cyclase-hemolysin (CyaA). Similarly, FrpA was recognized by 9D4, a monoclonal antibody directed against B. pertussis CyaA. In addition to the frpA gene, a second gene (frpC) produced a larger RTX-related protein. The frpA and frpC loci were mutagenized in strain FAM20, resulting in the loss of RTX-related proteins. A 120-kDa protein was expressed from the reconstructed frpA gene in E. coli. The biological function of FrpA is unknown, but its similarity to other RTX toxins suggests that it may play an important role in the pathogenesis of meningococcal infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology