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1.  Identification of immunodominant antigens in canine leptospirosis by Multi-Antigen Print ImmunoAssay (MAPIA) 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10(1):288.
Background
The microscopic agglutination test (MAT), the standard method for serological diagnosis of leptospirosis, may present limitations regarding its sensitivity. Current studies suggest that Leptospira immunoglobulin-like (Lig) proteins and LipL32 are of particular interest as serodiagnostic markers since they are present only in pathogenic species of the Leptospira genus. The purpose of this study was to identify leptospiral immunodominant proteins that are recognized by canine sera from diseased dogs.
Results
A total of 109 dogs were studied, including seroreactive dogs (MAT ≥800) and dogs with no seroreactivity detectable by MAT. Eight recombinant fragments (31–70 kDa) of pathogenic Leptospira were tested for their use as diagnostic markers for canine leptospirosis using the Multi-antigen Print Immunoassay (MAPIA) platform: LigB [582-947aa] from L. interrogans serovar Pomona, L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni and L. kirschneri serovar Gryppotyphosa, LigB [131-649aa] from L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni, L. interrogans serovar Canicola and L. kirschneri serovar Gryppotyphosa, LigA [625-1224aa] L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni and LipL32 from L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni. The data were analyzed and ROC curves were generated. Altogether, LigB [131-649aa] L. interrogans Canicola, LigB [131-649aa] L. kirschneri Gryppotyphosa and LipL32 L. interrogans Copenhageni showed best accuracy (AUC = 0.826 to 0.869), with 70% specificity and sensitivity ranging from 89% to 95%.
Conclusions
These results reinforce their potential as diagnostic candidates for the development of new methods for the serological diagnosis of canine leptospirosis.
doi:10.1186/s12917-014-0288-2
PMCID: PMC4269070  PMID: 25466383
Leptospirosis; Dogs; MAPIA; LipL32; Lig proteins
2.  Characterization of Conserved Combined T and B Cell Epitopes in Leptospira interrogans Major Outer Membrane Proteins OmpL1 and LipL41 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:21.
Background
Leptospira interrogans are bacterial pathogens of animal that cause zoonotic infections in human. Outer membrane proteins of leptospire are among the most effective antigens which can stimulate remarkable immune responses during the infection processes, and thus are currently considered leading candidate vaccine antigens. The objective of the present study is to predict and confirm major combined B and T cell epitopes of leptospiral outer membrane proteins OmpL1 and LipL41, as well as to evaluate their capacity in the induction of immune responses in BALB/c mice.
Results
In this study, four epitopes from OmpL1 and four from LipL41 conserved regions were evaluated for their potential utilization in leptospire vaccines. Firstly, combined B and T cell epitopes were predicted by softwares and expressed using a phage display system. OmpL1 residues 87-98 and 173-191 (OmpL187-98 and OmpL1173-191) and LipL4130-48, LipL41233-256 of LipL41 were identified as immunodominant B cell epitopes by Western blot. Epitopes OmpL1173-191, OmpL1297-320 of OmpL1 and LipL41233-256, LipL41263-282 of LipL41 were identified as immunodominant CD4+ T cell epitopes through proliferation analysis of splenocytes from recombinant OmpL1 (rOmpL1) or recombinant LipL41 (rLipL41)-immunized BALB/c (H-2d) mice. These epitopes induced responses of CD4+ T cells and Th1 (T helper cells) type cytokine responses during the infection.
Conclusion
This work identified combined T and B cell immunodominant epitopes in outer membrane proteins OmpL1 and LipL41 of Leptospira interrogans. OmpL1173-191 of OmpL1 and LipL41233-256 of LipL41 could be useful in a vaccine against Leptospira. The findings could also contribute to the development of effective cross-protective vaccine strategies for leptospirosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-21
PMCID: PMC3038132  PMID: 21269437
3.  The terminal portion of leptospiral immunoglobulin-like protein LigA confers protective immunity against lethal infection in the hamster model of leptospirosis 
Vaccine  2007;25(33):6277-6286.
Subunit vaccines are a potential intervention strategy against leptospirosis, which is a major public health problem in developing countries and a veterinary disease in livestock and companion animals worldwide. Leptospiral immunoglobulin-like (Lig) proteins are a family of surface-exposed determinants that have Ig-like repeat domains found in virulence factors such as intimin and invasin. We expressed fragments of the repeat domain regions of LigA and LigB from Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni. Immunization of Golden Syrian hamsters with Lig fragments in Freund’s adjuvant induced robust antibody responses against recombinant protein and native protein, as detected by ELISA and immunoblot, respectively. A single fragment, LigANI, which corresponds to the six carboxy-terminal Ig-like repeat domains of the LigA molecule, conferred immunoprotection against mortality (67-100%, P <0.05) in hamsters which received a lethal inoculum of L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni. However, immunization with this fragment did not confer sterilizing immunity. These findings indicate that the carboxy-terminal portion of LigA is an immunoprotective domain and may serve as a vaccine candidate for human and veterinary leptospirosis.
doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.05.053
PMCID: PMC1994161  PMID: 17629368
Leptospirosis; subunit vaccine; Leptospiral immunoglobulin-like protein; recombinant protein; immunity; antibodies; hamsters
4.  Serodiagnosis of Equine Leptospirosis by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay Using Four Recombinant Protein Markers 
Leptospirosis, caused by Leptospira spp., is one of the most common zoonotic diseases in the world. We tested four recombinant proteins of Leptospira interrogans, namely, rLipL21, rLoa22, rLipL32, and rLigACon4-8, to evaluate their potential for use as antigens for the diagnosis of equine leptospirosis. We employed equine sera (n = 130) that were microscopic agglutination test (MAT) negative and sera (n = 176) that were MAT positive for the 5 serovars that most commonly cause equine leptospirosis. The sensitivity and specificity of ELISA compared to MAT were 82.39% and 86.15%, respectively, for LigACon4-8, 77.84% and 92.31%, respectively, for Loa22, 77.84% and 86.15%, respectively, for LipL32, and 84.66% and 83.85%, respectively, for LipL21. When one of the two antigens was test positive, the sensitivity and specificity of ELISA were 93.75% and 78.46%, respectively, for rLigACon4-8 and LipL32, 93.18% and 76.15%, respectively, for rLigACon4-8 and LipL21, 89.77% and 80.77%, respectively, for rLigACon4-8 and Loa22, 91.48% and 78.46%, respectively, for LipL21 and Loa22, 93.75% and 76.92%, respectively, for LipL21 and LipL32, and 90.34% and 80.77%, respectively, for Loa22 and LipL32. In conclusion, we have developed an indirect ELISA utilizing rLigACon4-8, rLoa22, rLipL32, and rLipL21 as diagnostic antigens for equine leptospirosis. The use of four antigens in the ELISA was found to be sensitive and specific, the assay was easy to perform, and the results concurred with the results of the standard Leptospira MAT.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00649-13
PMCID: PMC3993115  PMID: 24451330
5.  LipL21 Is a Novel Surface-Exposed Lipoprotein of Pathogenic Leptospira Species  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(5):2414-2421.
Leptospira is the etiologic agent of leptospirosis, a bacterial zoonosis distributed worldwide. Leptospiral lipopolysaccharide is a protective immunogen, but the extensive serological diversity of leptospires has inspired a search for conserved outer membrane proteins (OMPs) that may stimulate heterologous immunity. Previously, a global analysis of leptospiral OMPs (P. A. Cullen, S. J. Cordwell, D. M. Bulach, D. A. Haake, and B. Adler, Infect. Immun. 70:2311-2318, 2002) identified pL21, a novel 21-kDa protein that is the second most abundant constituent of the Leptospira interrogans serovar Lai outer membrane proteome. In this study, we identified the gene encoding pL21 and found it to encode a putative lipoprotein; accordingly, the protein was renamed LipL21. Southern hybridization analysis revealed the presence of lipL21 in all of the pathogenic species but in none of the saprophytic species examined. Alignment of the LipL21 sequence from six strains of Leptospira revealed 96 to 100% identity. When specific polyclonal antisera to recombinant LipL21 were used, LipL21 was isolated together with other known leptospiral OMPs by both Triton X-114 extraction and sucrose density gradient membrane fractionation. All nine strains of pathogenic leptospires investigated by Western blotting, whether culture attenuated or virulent, were found to express LipL21. In contrast, the expression of LipL21 or an antigenically related protein could not be detected in nonpathogenic L. biflexa. Infected hamster sera and two of eight human leptospirosis sera tested were found to react with recombinant LipL21. Native LipL21 was found to incorporate tritiated palmitic acid, consistent with the prediction of a lipoprotein signal peptidase cleavage site. Biotinylation of the leptospiral surface resulted in selective labeling of LipL21 and the previously known OMPs LipL32 and LipL41. These findings show that LipL21 is a surface-exposed, abundant outer membrane lipoprotein that is expressed during infection and conserved among pathogenic Leptospira species.
doi:10.1128/IAI.71.5.2414-2421.2003
PMCID: PMC153295  PMID: 12704111
6.  Characterization of Leptospiral Outer Membrane Lipoprotein LipL36: Downregulation Associated with Late-Log-Phase Growth and Mammalian Infection 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(4):1579-1587.
We report the cloning of the gene encoding a 36-kDa leptospiral outer membrane lipoprotein, designated LipL36. We obtained the N-terminal amino acid sequence of a staphylococcal V8 proteolytic-digest fragment in order to design an oligonucleotide probe. A Lambda-Zap II library containing EcoRI fragments of Leptospira kirschneri DNA was screened, and a 2.3-kb DNA fragment which contained the entire structural lipL36 gene was identified. Several lines of evidence indicate that LipL36 is lipid modified in a manner similar to that of LipL41, a leptospiral outer membrane lipoprotein we described in a previous study (E. S. Shang, T. A. Summers, and D. A. Haake, Infect. Immun. 64:2322–2330, 1996). The deduced amino acid sequence of LipL36 would constitute a 364-amino-acid polypeptide with a 20-amino-acid signal peptide, followed by an L-X-Y-C lipoprotein signal peptidase cleavage site. LipL36 is solubilized by Triton X-114 extraction of L. kirschneri; phase separation results in partitioning of LipL36 exclusively into the hydrophobic, detergent phase. LipL36 is intrinsically labeled during incubation of L. kirschneri in media containing [3H]palmitate. Processing of LipL36 is inhibited by globomycin, a selective inhibitor of lipoprotein signal peptidase. After processing, LipL36 is exported to the outer membrane along with LipL41 and lipopolysaccharide. Unlike LipL41, there appears to be differential expression of LipL36. In early-log-phase cultures, LipL36 is one of the most abundant L. kirschneri proteins. However, LipL36 levels drop considerably beginning in mid-log phase. LipL36 expression in vivo was evaluated by examining the humoral immune response to leptospiral antigens in the hamster model of leptospirosis. Hamsters surviving challenge with culture-adapted virulent L. kirschneri generate a strong antibody response to LipL36. In contrast, sera from hamsters surviving challenge with host-adapted L. kirschneri do not recognize LipL36. These findings suggest that LipL36 expression is downregulated during mammalian infection, providing a marker for studying the mechanisms by which pathogenic Leptospira species adapt to the host environment.
PMCID: PMC108091  PMID: 9529084
7.  Protection of Guinea Pigs against Leptospira interrogans Serovar Lai by LipL21 DNA Vaccine 
In this study, the full lipL21 gene fragment encoding outer membrane protein LipL21 was cloned from L. interrogans serovar Lai and inserted into eukaryotic expression vector pcDNA3.1(+). The guinea pigs were immunized with pcDNA3.1(+)-lipL21, pcDNA3.1(+) or PBS. Six weeks after the second immunization, the splenocytes were isolated to detect their proliferative ability by lymphocyte transformation experiments. In addition, microscopic agglutination test was used for quantitative detection of specific antibodies. The rest guinea pigs were challenged intraperitoneally with L. interogans sorevar Lai. Then, protective effect was evaluated on the basis of survival and histopathological lesions in the kidneys, lungs, and liver. The lipL21 gene was successfully expressed in COS-7 cells through recombinant pcDNA3.1(+)-lipL21. The titer of specific antibodies substantially increased, and the stimulation index of splenocytes increased significantly. Hence, the pcDNA3.1(+)-lipL21 could protect the immunized guinea pigs from homotypic Leptospira infection. Furthermore, no obvious pathologic changes were observed in the pcDNA3.1(+)-lipL21 immunized guinea pigs. The results showed that the protective effect with pathogenic strains of Leptospira was shared by LipL21 mediated through a plasmid vector. Consequently, these results indicated that the lipL21 DNA vaccine was a promising candidate for the prevention of leptospirosis.
doi:10.1038/cmi.2008.48
PMCID: PMC4072393  PMID: 18954563
Leptospira; lipL21; DNA vaccine; immunoprotection
8.  Identification of Immunodominant B- and T-Cell Combined Epitopes in Outer Membrane Lipoproteins LipL32 and LipL21 of Leptospira interrogans▿  
Leptospirosis is a serious infectious disease caused by pathogenic Leptospira. B- and T-cell-mediated immune responses contribute to the mechanisms of Leptospira interrogans infection and immune intervention. LipL32 and LipL21 are the conserved outer membrane lipoproteins of L. interrogans and are considered vaccine candidates. In this study, we identified B- and T-cell combined epitopes within LipL32 and LipL21 to further develop a novel vaccine. By using a computer prediction algorithm, two B- and T-cell combined epitopes of LipL21 and four of LipL32 were predicted. All of the predicted epitopes were expressed in a phage display system. Four epitopes, LipL21 residues 97 to 112 and 176 to 184 (LipL2197-112 and LipL21176-184, respectively) and LipL32133-160 and LipL32221-247 of LipL32 were selected as antigens by Western blotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. These selected epitopes were also recognized by CD4+ T lymphocytes derived from LipL21- or LipL32-immunized BALB/c (H-2d) mice and mainly polarized the immune response toward a Th1 phenotype. The identification of epitopes that have both B- and T-cell immune reactivities is of value for studying the immune mechanisms in response to leptospiral infection and for designing an effective vaccine for leptospirosis.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00405-09
PMCID: PMC2863375  PMID: 20237196
9.  Cross-protective Immunity Against Leptospirosis Elicited by a Live, Attenuated Lipopolysaccharide Mutant 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(6):870-879.
Background. Leptospira species cause leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease found worldwide. Current vaccines against leptospirosis provide protection only against closely related serovars.
Methods. We evaluated an attenuated transposon mutant of Leptospira interrogans serovar Manilae (M1352, defective in lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis) as a live vaccine against leptospirosis. Hamsters received a single dose of vaccine and were challenged with the homologous serovar (Manilae) and a serologically unrelated heterologous serovar (Pomona). Comparisons were made with killed vaccines. Potential cross-protective antigens against leptospirosis were investigated.
Results. Live M1352 vaccine induced superior protection in hamsters against homologous challenge. The live vaccine also stimulated cross-protection against heterologous challenge, with 100% survival (live M1352) versus 40% survival (killed vaccine). Hamsters receiving either vaccine responded to the dominant membrane proteins LipL32 and LipL41. Hamsters receiving the live vaccine additionally recognized LA3961/OmpL36 (unknown function), Loa22 (OmpA family protein, recognized virulence factor), LA2372 (general secretory protein G), and LA1939 (hypothetical protein). Manilae LigA was recognized by M1352 vaccinates, whereas LipL36 was detected in Pomona.
Conclusion. This study demonstrated that a live, attenuated vaccine can stimulate cross-protective immunity to L. interrogans and has identified antigens that potentially confer cross-protection against leptospirosis.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiq127
PMCID: PMC3071135  PMID: 21220775
10.  Novel 45-Kilodalton Leptospiral Protein That Is Processed to a 31-Kilodalton Growth-Phase-Regulated Peripheral Membrane Protein  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(1):323-334.
Leptospiral protein antigens are of interest as potential virulence factors and as candidate serodiagnostic and immunoprotective reagents. We identified leptospiral protein antigens by screening a genomic expression library with serum from a rabbit hyperimmunized with formalin-killed, virulent Leptospira kirschneri serovar grippotyphosa. Genes expressing known outer membrane lipoproteins LipL32 and LipL41, the heat shock protein GroEL, and the α, β, and β′ subunits of RNA polymerase were isolated from the library. In addition, a new leptospiral gene that in Escherichia coli expressed a 45-kDa antigen with an amino-terminal signal peptide followed by the spirochetal lipobox Val−4-Phe−3-Asn−2-Ala−1↓Cys+1 was isolated. We designated this putative lipoprotein LipL45. Immunoblot analysis of a panel of Leptospira strains probed with LipL45 antiserum demonstrated that many low-passage strains expressed LipL45. In contrast, LipL45 was not detected in high-passage, culture-attenuated strains, suggesting that LipL45 is a virulence-associated protein. In addition, all leptospiral strains tested, irrespective of culture passage, expressed a 31-kDa antigen that was recognized by LipL45 antiserum. Southern blot and peptide mapping studies indicated that this 31-kDa antigen was derived from the carboxy terminus of LipL45; therefore, it was designated P31LipL45. Membrane fractionation studies demonstrated that P31LipL45 is a peripheral membrane protein. Finally, we found that P31LipL45 levels increased as Leptospira entered the stationary phase, indicating that P31LipL45 levels were regulated. Hamsters infected with L. kirschneri formed an antibody response to LipL45, indicating that LipL45 was expressed during infection. Furthermore, the immunohistochemistry of kidneys from infected hamsters indicated that LipL45 was expressed by L. kirschneri that colonized the renal tubule. These observations suggest that expression of LipL45 responds to environmental cues, including those encountered during infection of a mammalian host.
doi:10.1128/IAI.70.1.323-334.2002
PMCID: PMC127625  PMID: 11748198
11.  Protection against Lethal Leptospirosis after Vaccination with LipL32 Coupled or Coadministered with the B Subunit of Escherichia coli Heat-Labile Enterotoxin 
Leptospirosis, a worldwide zoonosis, lacks an effective, safe, and cross-protective vaccine. LipL32, the most abundant, immunogenic, and conserved surface lipoprotein present in all pathogenic species of Leptospira, is a promising antigen candidate for a recombinant vaccine. However, several studies have reported a lack of protection when this protein is used as a subunit vaccine. In an attempt to enhance the immune response, we used LipL32 coupled to or coadministered with the B subunit of the Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin (LTB) in a hamster model of leptospirosis. After homologous challenge with 5× the 50% lethal dose (LD50) of Leptospira interrogans, animals vaccinated with LipL32 coadministered with LTB and LTB::LipL32 had significantly higher survival rates (P < 0.05) than animals from the control group. This is the first report of a protective immune response afforded by a subunit vaccine using LipL32 and represents an important contribution toward the development of improved leptospirosis vaccines.
doi:10.1128/CVI.05720-11
PMCID: PMC3346321  PMID: 22379066
12.  LipL46 is a novel surface-exposed lipoprotein expressed during leptospiral dissemination in the mammalian host 
Microbiology (Reading, England)  2006;152(Pt 12):3777-3786.
Leptospirosis is a widespread zoonosis caused by invasive spirochaetes belonging to the genus Leptospira. Pathogenic leptospires disseminate via the bloodstream to colonize the renal tubules of reservoir hosts. Little is known about leptospiral outer-membrane proteins expressed during the dissemination stage of infection. In this study, a novel surface-exposed lipoprotein is described; it has been designated LipL46 to distinguish it from a previously described 31 kDa peripheral membrane protein, P31LipL45, which is exported as a 45 kDa probable lipoprotein. The lipL46 gene encodes a 412 aa polypeptide with a 21 aa signal peptide. Lipid modification of cysteine at the lipoprotein signal peptidase cleavage site FSISC is supported by the finding that Leptospira interrogans intrinsically labels LipL46 during incubation in medium containing [14C]palmitate. LipL46 appears to be exported to the leptospiral outer membrane as a 46 kDa lipoprotein, based on Triton X-114 solubilization and phase partitioning studies, which included the outer and inner membrane controls LipL32 and LipL31, respectively. Surface immunoprecipitation and whole-cell ELISA experiments indicate that LipL46 is exposed on the leptospiral surface. Immunohistochemistry studies demonstrated expression of LipL46 by leptospires found in the bloodstream of acutely infected hamsters. Leptospires expressing LipL46 were also found in the intercellular spaces of the liver, within splenic phagocytes, and invading the glomerular hilum of the kidney. Infection-associated expression is supported by the finding that LipL46 is a major antigen recognized by sera from infected hamsters. These findings indicate that LipL46 may be important in leptospiral dissemination, and that it may serve as a useful serodiagnostic antigen.
doi:10.1099/mic.0.29162-0
PMCID: PMC2667200  PMID: 17159228
13.  Osmolarity, a Key Environmental Signal Controlling Expression of Leptospiral Proteins LigA and LigB and the Extracellular Release of LigA  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(1):70-78.
The high-molecular-weight leptospiral immunoglobulin-like repeat (Lig) proteins are expressed only by virulent low-passage forms of pathogenic Leptospira species. We examined the effects of growth phase and environmental signals on the expression, surface exposure, and extracellular release of LigA and LigB. LigA was lost from stationary-phase cells, while LigB expression was maintained. The loss of cell-associated LigA correlated with selective release of a lower-molecular-weight form of LigA into the culture supernatant, while LigB and the outer membrane lipoprotein LipL41 remained associated with cells. Addition of tissue culture medium to leptospiral culture medium induced LigA and LigB expression and caused a substantial increase in released LigA. The sodium chloride component of tissue culture medium was primarily responsible for the enhanced release of LigA. Addition of sodium chloride, potassium chloride, or sodium sulfate to leptospiral medium to physiological osmolarity caused the induction of both cell-associated LigA and LigB, indicating that osmolarity regulates the expression of Lig proteins. Osmotic induction of Lig expression also resulted in enhanced release of LigA and increased surface exposure of LigB, as determined by surface immunofluorescence. Osmolarity appears to be a key environmental signal that controls the expression of LigA and LigB.
doi:10.1128/IAI.73.1.70-78.2005
PMCID: PMC538979  PMID: 15618142
14.  Post-translational Modification of LipL32 during Leptospira interrogans Infection 
Background
Leptospirosis, a re-emerging disease of global importance caused by pathogenic Leptospira spp., is considered the world's most widespread zoonotic disease. Rats serve as asymptomatic carriers of pathogenic Leptospira and are critical for disease spread. In such reservoir hosts, leptospires colonize the kidney, are shed in the urine, persist in fresh water and gain access to a new mammalian host through breaches in the skin.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Previous studies have provided evidence for post-translational modification (PTM) of leptospiral proteins. In the current study, we used proteomic analyses to determine the presence of PTMs on the highly abundant leptospiral protein, LipL32, from rat urine-isolated L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni compared to in vitro-grown organisms. We observed either acetylation or tri-methylation of lysine residues within multiple LipL32 peptides, including peptides corresponding to regions of LipL32 previously identified as epitopes. Intriguingly, the PTMs were unique to the LipL32 peptides originating from in vivo relative to in vitro grown leptospires. The identity of each modified lysine residue was confirmed by fragmentation pattern analysis of the peptide mass spectra. A synthetic peptide containing an identified tri-methylated lysine, which corresponds to a previously identified LipL32 epitope, demonstrated significantly reduced immunoreactivity with serum collected from leptospirosis patients compared to the peptide version lacking the tri-methylation. Further, a subset of the identified PTMs are in close proximity to the established calcium-binding and putative collagen-binding sites that have been identified within LipL32.
Conclusions/Significance
The exclusive detection of PTMs on lysine residues within LipL32 from in vivo-isolated L. interrogans implies that infection-generated modification of leptospiral proteins may have a biologically relevant function during the course of infection. Although definitive determination of the role of these PTMs must await further investigations, the reduced immune recognition of a modified LipL32 epitope suggests the intriguing possibility that LipL32 modification represents a novel mechanism of immune evasion within Leptospira.
Author Summary
Leptospirosis, caused by pathogenic Leptospira spp., constitutes an increasing global public health threat. Humans are accidental hosts, and acquire the disease primarily from contact with water sources that have been contaminated with urine from infected animals. Rats are asymptomatic carriers of infection and are critical for disease transmission to humans, particularly in urban slum environments. In this study, investigation of Leptospira directly isolated from the urine of infected rats showed acetylation or tri-methylation of the highly abundant leptospiral lipoprotein, LipL32. In comparison, Leptospira grown in culture did not result in any LipL32 lysine modifications. A synthetic peptide derived from LipL32 that incorporated a tri-methylated lysine modification exhibited less reactivity with serum from leptospirosis patients compared to an unmodified version of the peptide, suggesting LipL32 modifications may alter protein recognition by the immune response. This study reports, for the first time, modification of a Leptospira protein during infection, and suggests these modifications may have a functional consequence that contributes to bacterial persistence during infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003280
PMCID: PMC4214626  PMID: 25356675
15.  Global Analysis of Outer Membrane Proteins from Leptospira interrogans Serovar Lai  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(5):2311-2318.
Recombinant leptospiral outer membrane proteins (OMPs) can elicit immunity to leptospirosis in a hamster infection model. Previously characterized OMPs appear highly conserved, and thus their potential to stimulate heterologous immunity is of critical importance. In this study we undertook a global analysis of leptospiral OMPs, which were obtained by Triton X-114 extraction and phase partitioning. Outer membrane fractions were isolated from Leptospira interrogans serovar Lai grown at 20, 30, and 37°C with or without 10% fetal calf serum and, finally, in iron-depleted medium. The OMPs were separated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Gel patterns from each of the five conditions were compared via image analysis, and 37 gel-purified proteins were tryptically digested and characterized by mass spectrometry (MS). Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time-of-flight MS was used to rapidly identify leptospiral OMPs present in sequence databases. Proteins identified by this approach included the outer membrane lipoproteins LipL32, LipL36, LipL41, and LipL48. No known proteins from any cellular location other than the outer membrane were identified. Tandem electrospray MS was used to obtain peptide sequence information from eight novel proteins designated pL18, pL21, pL22, pL24, pL45, pL47/49, pL50, and pL55. The expression of LipL36 and pL50 was not apparent at temperatures above 30°C or under iron-depleted conditions. The expression of pL24 was also downregulated after iron depletion. The leptospiral major OMP LipL32 was observed to undergo substantial cleavage under all conditions except iron depletion. Additionally, significant downregulation of these mass forms was observed under iron limitation at 30°C, but not at 30°C alone, suggesting that LipL32 processing is dependent on iron-regulated extracellular proteases. However, separate cleavage products responded differently to changes in growth temperature and medium constituents, indicating that more than one process may be involved in LipL32 processing. Furthermore, under iron-depleted conditions there was no concomitant increase in the levels of the intact form of LipL32. The temperature- and iron-regulated expression of LipL36 and the iron-dependent cleavage of LipL32 were confirmed by immunoblotting with specific antisera. Global analysis of the cellular location and expression of leptospiral proteins will be useful in the annotation of genomic sequence data and in providing insight into the biology of Leptospira.
doi:10.1128/IAI.70.5.2311-2318.2002
PMCID: PMC127947  PMID: 11953365
16.  Molecular cloning and sequence analysis of the gene encoding LipL41, a surface-exposed lipoprotein of pathogenic Leptospira species. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(6):2322-2330.
We report the cloning of the gene encoding a surface-exposed leptospiral lipoprotein, designated LipL41. In a previous study, a 41-kDa protein antigen was identified on the surface of Leptospira kirschneri (D. A. Haake, E. M. Walker, D. R. Blanco, C. A. Bolin, J. N. Miller, and M. A. Lovett, Infect. Immun. 59:1131-1140, 1991). We obtained the N-terminal amino acid sequence of a staphylococcal V8 proteolytic-digest fragment in order to design an oligonucleotide probe.A Lambda ZAP II library containing EcoRI fragments of L. kirschneri DNA was screened, and a 2.3-kb DNA fragment which contained the entire structural lipL41 gene was identified. The deduced amino acid sequence of LipL41 would encode a 355-amino-acid polypeptide with a 19-amino-acid signal peptide, followed by an L-X-Y-C lipoprotein signal peptidase cleavage site. A recombinant His6-LipL41 fusion protein was expressed in Escherichia coli in order to generate specific rabbit antiserum. LipL41 is solubilized by Triton X-114 extraction of L. kirschneri; phase separation results in partitioning of LipL41 exclusively into the detergent phase. At least eight proteins, including LipL41 and the other major Triton X-114 detergent phase proteins, are intrinsically labeled during incubation of L. kirschneri in media containing [3H] palmitate. Processing of LipL41 is inhibited by globomycin, a selective inhibitor of lipoprotein signal peptidase. Triton X-100 extracts of L. kirschneri contain immunoprecipitable OmpL1 (porin), LipL41, and another lipoprotein, LipL36. However, in contrast to LipL36, only LipL41 and OmpL1 were exposed on the surface of intact organisms. Immunoblot analysis of a panel of Leptospira species reveals that LipL41 expression is highly conserved among leptospiral pathogens.
PMCID: PMC174073  PMID: 8675344
17.  The Leptospiral Major Outer Membrane Protein LipL32 Is a Lipoprotein Expressed during Mammalian Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(4):2276-2285.
We report the cloning of the gene encoding the 32-kDa lipoprotein, designated LipL32, the most prominent protein in the leptospiral protein profile. We obtained the N-terminal amino acid sequence of a staphylococcal V8 proteolytic-digest fragment to design an oligonucleotide probe. A Lambda-Zap II library containing EcoRI fragments of Leptospira kirschneri DNA was screened, and a 5.0-kb DNA fragment which contained the entire structural lipL32 gene was identified. Several lines of evidence indicate that LipL32 is lipid modified in a manner similar to that of other procaryotic lipoproteins. The deduced amino acid sequence of LipL32 would encode a 272-amino-acid polypeptide with a 19-amino-acid signal peptide, followed by a lipoprotein signal peptidase cleavage site. LipL32 is intrinsically labeled during incubation of L. kirschneri in media containing [3H]palmitate. The linkage of palmitate and the amino-terminal cysteine of LipL32 is acid labile. LipL32 is completely solubilized by Triton X-114 extraction of L. kirschneri; phase separation results in partitioning of LipL32 exclusively into the hydrophobic, detergent phase, indicating that it is a component of the leptospiral outer membrane. CaCl2 (20 mM) must be present during phase separation for recovery of LipL32. LipL32 is expressed not only during cultivation but also during mammalian infection. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated intense LipL32 reactivity with L. kirschneri infecting proximal tubules of hamster kidneys. LipL32 is also a prominent immunogen during human leptospirosis. The sequence and expression of LipL32 is highly conserved among pathogenic Leptospira species. These findings indicate that LipL32 may be important in the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and prevention of leptospirosis.
PMCID: PMC97414  PMID: 10722630
18.  Physiological Osmotic Induction of Leptospira interrogans Adhesion: LigA and LigB Bind Extracellular Matrix Proteins and Fibrinogen▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;75(5):2441-2450.
Transmission of leptospirosis occurs through contact of mucous membranes and abraded skin with freshwater contaminated by pathogenic Leptospira spp. Exposure to physiological osmolarity induces leptospires to express high levels of the Lig surface proteins containing imperfect immunoglobulin-like repeats that are shared or differ between LigA and LigB. We report that osmotic induction of Lig is accompanied by 1.6- to 2.5-fold increases in leptospiral adhesion to immobilized extracellular matrix and plasma proteins, including collagens I and IV, laminin, and especially fibronectin and fibrinogen. Recombinant LigA-unique and LigB-unique repeat proteins bind to these same host ligands. We found that the avidity of LigB in binding fibronectin is comparable to that of the Staphylococcus aureus FnBPA D repeats. Both LigA- and LigB-unique repeats interact with the amino-terminal fibrin- and gelatin-binding domains of fibronectin, which are also recognized by fibronectin-binding proteins mediating the adhesion of other microbial pathogens. In contrast, repeats common to both LigA and LigB do not bind these host proteins, and nonrepeat sequences in the carboxy-terminal domain of LigB show only weak interaction with fibronectin and fibrinogen. A functional role for the binding activity of LigA and LigB is suggested by the ability of the recombinants to inhibit leptospiral adhesion to fibronectin by 28% and 21%, respectively. The binding of LigA and LigB to multiple ligands present in different tissues suggests that these adhesins may be involved in the initial colonization and dissemination stages of leptospirosis. The characterization of the Lig adhesin function should aid the design of Lig-based vaccines and serodiagnostic tests.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01635-06
PMCID: PMC1865782  PMID: 17296754
19.  Production and Characterization of a Polyclonal Antibody of Anti-rLipL21-IgG against Leptospira for Early Detection of Acute Leptospirosis 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:592858.
Leptospirosis is one of the zoonotic diseases in animals and humans throughout the world. LipL21 is one of the important surface-exposed lipoproteins in leptospires and the most effective cross protective immunogenic antigen. It is widely considered as a diagnostic marker for leptospirosis. In this study, we evaluated the serodiagnostic potential of LipL21 protein of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona. We have successfully amplified, cloned, and expressed LipL21 in E. coli and evaluated its specificity by immunoblotting. Purified recombinant LipL21 (rLipL21) was inoculated into rabbits for the production of polyclonal antibody. Characterization of the purified IgG antibody against rLipL21 was performed by cross reactivity assay. Only sera from leptospirosis patients and rabbit hyperimmune sera recognized rLipL21 while the nonleptospirosis control sera showed no reaction in immunoblotting. We confirmed that anti-rLipL21-IgG antibody cross reacted with and detected only pathogenic leptospiral species and it did not react with nonpathogenic leptospires and other bacterial species. Results observed showed that anti-rLipL21-IgG antibody has high specificity and sensitivity to leptospires. The findings indicated that the antibody could be used in a diagnostic assay for detection of leptospires or their proteins in the early phase of infection.
doi:10.1155/2014/592858
PMCID: PMC4016889  PMID: 24860824
20.  Leptospiral Outer Membrane Proteins OmpL1 and LipL41 Exhibit Synergistic Immunoprotection 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(12):6572-6582.
New vaccine strategies are needed for prevention of leptospirosis, a widespread human and veterinary disease caused by invasive spirochetes belonging to the genus Leptospira. We have examined the immunoprotective capacity of the leptospiral porin OmpL1 and the leptospiral outer membrane lipoprotein LipL41 in the Golden Syrian hamster model of leptospirosis. Specialized expression plasmids were developed to facilitate expression of leptospiral proteins in Escherichia coli as the membrane-associated proteins OmpL1-M and LipL41-M. Although OmpL1-M expression is highly toxic in E. coli, this was accomplished by using plasmid pMMB66-OmpL1, which has undetectable background expression without induction. LipL41-M expression and processing were enhanced by altering its lipoprotein signal peptidase cleavage site to mimic that of the murein lipoprotein. Active immunization of hamsters with E. coli membrane fractions containing a combination of OmpL1-M and LipL41-M was found to provide significant protection against homologous challenge with Leptospira kirschneri serovar grippotyphosa. At 28 days after intraperitoneal inoculation, survival in animals vaccinated with both proteins was 71% (95% confidence interval [CI], 53 to 89%), compared with only 25% (95% CI, 8 to 42%) in the control group (P < 0.001). On the basis of serological, histological, and microbiological assays, no evidence of infection was found in the vaccinated survivors. The protective effects of immunization with OmpL1-M and LipL41-M were synergistic, since significant levels of protection were not observed in animals immunized with either OmpL1-M or LipL41-M alone. In contrast to immunization with the membrane-associated forms of leptospiral proteins, hamsters immunized with His6-OmpL1 and His6-LipL41 fusion proteins, either alone or in combination, were not protected. These data indicate that the manner in which OmpL1 and LipL41 associates with membranes is an important determinant of immunoprotection.
PMCID: PMC97069  PMID: 10569777
21.  Immunoprotection of Recombinant Leptospiral Immunoglobulin-Like Protein A against Leptospira interrogans Serovar Pomona Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(3):1745-1750.
We previously reported the cloning and characterization of leptospiral immunoglobulin-like proteins LigA and LigB of Leptospira interrogans. LigA and LigB are conserved at the amino-terminal region but are variable at the carboxyl-terminal region. Here, we evaluate the potential of recombinant LigA (rLigA) as a vaccine candidate against infection by L. interrogans serovar Pomona in a hamster model. rLigA was truncated into conserved (rLigAcon) and variable (rLigAvar) regions and expressed in Escherichia coli as a fusion protein with glutathione-S-transferase (rLigA). Golden Syrian hamsters were immunized at 3 and 6 weeks of age with rLigA (rLigAcon and rLigAvar) with aluminum hydroxide as an adjuvant. Hamsters given recombinant glutathione-S-transferase (rGST)-adjuvant and phosphate-buffered saline-adjuvant served as nonvaccinated controls. Three weeks after the last vaccination, all animals were challenged intraperitoneally with 108 L. interrogans serovar Pomona bacteria (NVSL 1427-35-093002). All hamsters immunized with recombinant LigA survived after challenge and had no significant histopathological changes. In contrast, nonimmunized and rGST-immunized hamsters were subjected to lethal doses, and the hamsters that survived showed severe tubulointerstitial nephritis. All vaccinated animals showed a rise in antibody titers against rLigA. Results from this study indicate that rLigA is a potential vaccine candidate against L. interrogans serovar Pomona infection.
doi:10.1128/IAI.74.3.1745-1750.2006
PMCID: PMC1418682  PMID: 16495547
22.  Cloning and Sequence Analysis of LipL32, a Surface–Exposed Lipoprotein of Pathogenic Leptospira Spp 
Background
Leptospirosis is a worldwide zoonosis caused by pathogenic Leptospira species. A major challenge of this disease is the application of basic research to improve diagnostic methods and related vaccine development. Outer membrane proteins of Leptospira are potential candidates that may be useful as diagnostic or immunogenic factors in treatment and analysis of the disease.
Objectives
To develop an effective subunit vaccine against prevalent pathogenic Leptospira species, we sequenced and analyzed the LipL32 gene from three different Leptospira interrogans (L.interrogans) vaccinal serovars in Iran.
Materials and Methods
Following DNA extraction from these three serovars, the related LipL32 genes were amplified and cloned in the pTZ57R/T vector. Recombinant clones were confirmed by colony- PCR and DNA sequencing. The related sequences were subjected to homology analysis by comparing them to sequences in the Genbank database.
Results
The LipL32 sequences were >94% homologous among the vaccinal and other pathogenic Leptospira serovars in GenBank. This result indicates the conservation of this gene within the pathogenic Leptospires.
Conclusions
The cloned gene in this study may provide a potentially suitable platform for development of a variety of applications such as serological diagnostic tests or recombinant vaccines against leptospirosis.
doi:10.5812/ircmj.8793
PMCID: PMC3971780  PMID: 24719688
Leptospirosis; Leptospira Interrogans; LipL32
23.  Development of Transcriptional Fusions to Assess Leptospira interrogans Promoter Activity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17409.
Background
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infectious disease that affects both humans and animals. The existing genetic tools for Leptospira spp. have improved our understanding of the biology of this spirochete as well as the interaction of pathogenic leptospires with the mammalian host. However, new tools are necessary to provide novel and useful information to the field.
Methodology and Principal Findings
A series of promoter-probe vectors carrying a reporter gene encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) were constructed for use in L. biflexa. They were tested by constructing transcriptional fusions between the lipL41, Leptospiral Immunoglobulin-like A (ligA) and Sphingomielynase 2 (sph2) promoters from L. interrogans and the reporter gene. ligA and sph2 promoters were the most active, in comparison to the lipL41 promoter and the non-induced controls. The results obtained are in agreement with LigA expression from the L. interrogans Fiocruz L1-130 strain.
Conclusions
The novel vectors facilitated the in vitro evaluation of L. interrogans promoter activity under defined growth conditions which simulate the mammalian host environment. The fluorescence and rt-PCR data obtained closely reflected transcriptional regulation of the promoters, thus demonstrating the suitability of these vectors for assessing promoter activity in L. biflexa.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017409
PMCID: PMC3060810  PMID: 21445252
24.  Development of an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay Using a Recombinant LigA Fragment Comprising Repeat Domains 4 to 7.5 as an Antigen for Diagnosis of Equine Leptospirosis 
Leptospira immunoglobulin (Ig)-like (Lig) proteins are a novel family of surface-associated proteins in which the N-terminal 630 amino acids are conserved. In this study, we truncated the LigA conserved region into 7 fragments comprising the 1st to 3rd (LigACon1-3), 4th to 7.5th (LigACon4-7.5), 4th (LigACon4), 4.5th to 5.5th (LigACon4.5–5.5), 5.5th to 6.5th (LigACon5.5–6.5), 4th to 5th (LigACon4-5), and 6th to 7.5th (LigACon6-7.5) repeat domains. All 7 recombinant Lig proteins were screened using a slot-shaped dot blot assay for the diagnosis of equine leptospirosis. Our results showed that LigACon4-7.5 is the best candidate diagnostic antigen in a slot-shaped dot blot assay. LigACon4-7.5 was further evaluated as an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) antigen for the detection of Leptospira antibodies in equine sera. This assay was evaluated with equine sera (n = 60) that were microscopic agglutination test (MAT) negative and sera (n = 220) that were MAT positive to the 5 serovars that most commonly cause equine leptospirosis. The indirect ELISA results showed that at a single serum dilution of 1:250, the sensitivity and specificity of ELISA were 80.0% and 87.2%, respectively, compared to those of MAT. In conclusion, an indirect ELISA was developed utilizing a recombinant LigA fragment comprising the 4th to 7.5th repeat domain (LigACon4-7.5) as a diagnostic antigen for equine leptospirosis. This ELISA was found to be sensitive and specific, and it yielded results that concurred with those of the standard MAT.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00245-13
PMCID: PMC3754523  PMID: 23720368
25.  Oral Immunization with Escherichia coli Expressing a Lipidated Form of LigA Protects Hamsters against Challenge with Leptospira interrogans Serovar Copenhageni 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(2):893-902.
Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal zoonosis transmitted by reservoir host animals that harbor leptospires in their renal tubules and shed the bacteria in their urine. Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni transmitted from Rattus norvegicus to humans is the most prevalent cause of urban leptospirosis. We examined L. interrogans LigA, domains 7 to 13 (LigA7-13), as an oral vaccine delivered by Escherichia coli as a lipidated, membrane-associated protein. The efficacy of the vaccine was evaluated in a susceptible hamster model in terms of the humoral immune response and survival from leptospiral challenge. Four weeks of oral administration of live E. coli expressing LigA7-13 improved survival from intraperitoneal (i.p.) and intradermal (i.d.) challenge by L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni strain Fiocruz L1-130 in Golden Syrian hamsters. Immunization with E. coli expressing LigA7-13 resulted in a systemic antibody response, and a significant LigA7-13 IgG level after the first 2 weeks of immunization was completely predictive of survival 28 days after challenge. As in previous LigA vaccine studies, all immunized hamsters that survived infection had renal leptospiral colonization and histopathological changes. In summary, an oral LigA-based vaccine improved survival from leptospiral challenge by either the i.p. or i.d. route.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01533-13
PMCID: PMC3911400  PMID: 24478102

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