Fine tangled pili expressed by Haemophilus ducreyi are a novel class of pili

Renier J. Brentjens, Margaret Ketterer, Michael A. Apicella, Stanley M. Spinola

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63 Scopus citations


Haemophilus ducreyi synthesizes fine, tangled pili composed predominantly of a protein whose apparent molecular weight is 24,0011 (24K). A hybridoma, 2D8, produced a monoclonal antibody (MAb) that bound to a 24K protein in H. ducreyi strains isolated from diverse geographic locations. A λgt11 H. ducreyi library was screened with MAb 2D8. A 3.5-kb chromosomal insert from one reactive plaque was amplified and ligated into the pCRII vector. The recombinant plasmid, designated pHD24, expressed a 24K protein in Escherichia coli INVαF' that bound MAb 2D8. The coding sequence of the 24K gene was localized by exonuclease III digestion. The insert contained a 570-bp open reading frame, designated ftpA (fine, tangled pili). Translation of ftpA predicted a polypeptide with a molecular weight of 21.1 K. The predicted N- terminal amino acid sequence of the polypeptide encoded by ftpA was identical to the N-terminal amino acid sequence of purified pilin and lacked a cleavable signal sequence. Primer extension analysis of ftpA confirmed the lack of a leader peptide. The predicted amino acid sequence tacked homology to known pilin sequences but shared homology with the sequences of E. coli Dps and Treponema pallidum antigen TpF1 or 4D, proteins which associate to form ordered rings. An isogenic pilin mutant, H. ducreyi 35000ftpA::mTn3(Cm), was constructed by shuttle mutagenesis and did not contain pili when examined by electron microscopy. We conclude that H. ducreyi synthesizes fine, tangled pili that are composed of a unique major subunit, which may be exported by a signal sequence independent mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-816
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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