Two Protein Lysine Methyltransferases Methylate Outer Membrane Protein B from Rickettsia

Journal of Bacteriology (Impact Factor: 2.81). 12/2012; 194(23). DOI: 10.1128/JB.01379-12


Rickettsia prowazekii, the etiologic agent of epidemic typhus, is a potential biological threat agent. Its outer membrane protein B (OmpB) is an immunodominant antigen and plays roles as protective envelope and as adhesins. The observation of the correlation between methylation of lysine residues in rickettsial OmpB and bacterial virulence has suggested the importance of an enzymatic system for the methylation of OmpB. However, no rickettsial lysine methyltransferase has been characterized. Bioinformatic analysis of genomic DNA sequences of Rickettsia identified putative lysine methyltransferases. The genes of the potential methyltransferases were synthesized, cloned, and expressed in Escherichia coli, and expressed proteins were purified by nickel-nitrilotriacetic acid (Ni-NTA) affinity chromatography. The methyltransferase activities of the purified proteins were analyzed by methyl incorporation of radioactively labeled S-adenosylmethionine into recombinant fragments of OmpB. Two putative recombinant methyltransferases (rRP789 and rRP027-028) methylated recombinant OmpB fragments. The specific activity of rRP789 is 10- to 30-fold higher than that of rRP027-028. Western blot analysis using specific antibodies against trimethyl lysine showed that both rRP789 and rRP027-028 catalyzed trimethylation of recombinant OmpB fragments. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS-MS) analysis showed that rRP789 catalyzed mono-, di-, and trimethylation of lysine, while rRP027-028 catalyzed exclusively trimethylation. To our knowledge, rRP789 and rRP027-028 are the first biochemically characterized lysine methyltransferases of outer membrane proteins from Gram-negative bacteria. The production and characterization of rickettsial lysine methyltransferases provide new tools to investigate the mechanism of methylation of OmpB, effects of methylation on the structure and function of OmpB, and development of methylated OmpB-based diagnostic assays and vaccine candidates.

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Available from: Chien-Chung Chao, Dec 28, 2015
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