A unique Coxiella burnetii lipoprotein involved in metal binding (LimB)

James M. Battisti, Linda D. Hicks, Michael F. Minnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Coxiella burnetii is the bacterial agent of Q fever in humans. Here, we describe a unique, ~7.2 kDa, surface-exposed lipoprotein involved in metal binding which we have termed LimB. LimB was initially identified as a potential metal-binding protein on far-Western (FW) blots containing whole-cell lysate proteins when probed with nickel-coated horseradish peroxidase (Ni- HRP) and developed with a chemiluminescent HRP substrate. The corresponding identity of LimB as CBU1224a was established by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-tandem time-offlight mass spectrometry. BLAST analyses with CBU1224a showed no significant similarity to sequences outside strains of C. burnetii. Additional in silico analyses revealed a putative 20 residue signal sequence with the carboxyl end demarcated by a potential lipobox (LSGC) whose Cys residue is predicted to serve as the N-terminal, lipidated Cys of mature LimB. The second residue of mature LimB is predicted to be Ala, an uncharged envelope localization residue. These features suggest that CBU1224a is synthesized as a prolipoprotein which is subsequently lipidated, secreted and anchored in the outer membrane. Mature LimB is predicted to contain 45 aa, of which there are 10 His and 5 Cys; both amino acids are frequently involved in binding transition metal cations. Recombinant LimB (rLimB) was generated and its Ni-HRP-binding activity demonstrated on FW blots. Ni-HRP binding by rLimB was inhibited by >95% on FW blots done in the presence of EDTA, imidazole, Ni2+ or Zn2+, and roughly halved in the presence of Co2+ or Fe3+. The limB gene was maximally expressed at 3-7 days post-infection in Coxiellainfected Vero cells, coinciding with exponential phase growth. Two isoforms of LimB were detected on FW and Western blots, including a smaller (~7.2 kDa) species that was the predominant form in small cell variants and a larger isoform (~8.7 kDa) in large cell variants. LimB is Sarkosyl-insoluble, like many omps. The predicted surface location of LimB was verified by immunoelectron and immunofluorescence microscopy using anti-rLimB antibodies. Overall, the results suggest that LimB is a unique Coxiella lipoprotein that serves as a surface receptor for divalent metal cations and may play a role in acquiring at least one of these metals during intracellular growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-976
Number of pages11
JournalMicrobiology
Volume157
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2011

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