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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Characterization of selected strains of pneumococcal surface protein A.

Several proteins, in addition to the polysaccharide capsule, have recently been implicated in the full virulence of the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterial pathogen. One of these novel virulence factors of S. pneumoniae is pneumococcal surface protein A (PspA). The N-terminal, cell surface exposed, and functional part of PspA is essential for full pneumococcal virulence, as evidenced by the fact that antibodies raised against this part of the protein are protective against pneumococcal infections. PspA has recently been implicated in anti-complementary function as it reduces complement-mediated clearance and phagocytosis of pneumococci. Several recombinant N-terminal fragments of PspA from different strains of pneumococci, Rx1, BG9739, BG6380, EF3296, and EF5668, were analyzed using circular dichroism, analytical ultracentrifugation sedimentation velocity and equilibrium methods, and sequence homology. Uniformly, all strains of PspA molecules studied have a high alpha-helical secondary structure content and they adopt predominantly a coiled-coil structure with an elongated, likely rod-like shape. No beta-sheet structures were detected for any of the PspA molecules analyzed. All PspAs were found to be monomeric in solution with the exception of the BG9739 strain which had the propensity to partially aggregate but only into a tetrameric form. These structural properties were correlated with the functional, anti-complementary properties of PspA molecules based on the polar distribution of highly charged termini of its coiled-coil domain. The recombinant Rx1 PspA is currently under consideration for pneumococcal vaccine development.[1]


  1. Characterization of selected strains of pneumococcal surface protein A. Jedrzejas, M.J., Lamani, E., Becker, R.S. J. Biol. Chem. (2001) [Pubmed]
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