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Cloning And Expression Of Two Novel Hemin Binding Protein Genes From Treponema Denticola

Xiaoping Xu, Stanley C. Holt, David Kolodrubetz

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ABSTRACT Treponema denticola does not appear to produce siderophores, so it must acquire iron by other pathways. Indeed,T. denticola has been shown to have an iron-regulated 44-kDa outer membrane protein (HbpA) with hemin binding ability. To characterize the HbpA protein, its gene was cloned from genomic DNA libraries of T. denticola. Sequence analysis of thehbpA open reading frame indicated that it encoded a 42.8-kDa protein with a 23-amino-acid signal peptide. HbpA has no significant homology to any proteins in the databases. Southern blot analysis demonstrated that hbpA is present in severalT. denticola ATCC strains and clinical isolates, but not inTreponema pectinovorum, Treponema socranskii, orEscherichia coli. HbpA, expressed as a recombinant protein in E. coli and purified by antibody affinity chromatography, has hemin binding activity as determined by lithium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis with tetramethylbenzidine staining. Northern blot analysis showed that there were two hbpA-containing transcripts, of approximately 1.3 and 2.6 kb, and that the RNA levels were low-iron induced. Interestingly, the 2.6-kb mRNA also encoded a second protein with significant homology to hbpA. This downstream gene, calledhbpB, was cloned and sequenced and its product was expressed as a fusion protein in E. coli. ThehbpB gene product is 49% identical to HbpA and binds hemin. Thus, T. denticola has two novel hemin binding proteins which may be part of a previously unrecognized iron acquisition pathway.