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Molecular Cloning and Characterization of the Genes Coding for the Highly Immunogenic Cluster of 90-Kilodalton Envelope Proteins from the Chlamydia psittaci Subtype That Causes Abortion in Sheep

Published: 2019

Research Scotland: 20.500.12594/12133


  • David Longbottom

  • Mary Russell

  • Susanna M. Dunbar

  • Gareth E. Jones

  • Alan J. Herring

Is Part of:

Infection and Immunity, 66, 4, pp1317-1324.



Proteins present in the outer membrane of chlamydiae that are involved in mucosal epithelial cell infection must clearly be identified and characterized if we are to understand and modify the pathogenic mechanisms utilized by these organisms. We have identified and isolated a family of four genes encoding putative outer membrane proteins (POMPs), a group of proteins of approximately 90 kDa present in the outer membrane of the subtype of
Chlamydia psittaci
that causes ovine enzootic abortion (strain S26/3). These proteins, although minor components, are major immunogens, as shown by the immunoblotting of chlamydial outer membrane complexes with postabortion sheep sera, and are therefore potential diagnostic and/or protective antigen candidates. Immunoblotting of the expressed amino- and carboxy-terminal halves of one of the POMPs with postabortion sheep sera showed that the major humoral immune response appeared to be directed solely against the amino-terminal half. This result, in combination with the positive immunofluorescence staining of S26/3-infected cells using POMP-specific (specific to the amino-terminal half of the proteins) monoclonal antibodies, suggests the probable surface localization of the POMPs and, more specifically, the surface exposure of the amino-terminal half of these proteins. The four
genes are highly homologous, sharing 82 to 100% similarity with each other (two of the genes are identical). Genes with strong and weak homologies were also detected in
C. psittaci
avian and feline pneumonitis strains, respectively. No
homologs were found in strains of
C. trachomatis
C. pneumoniae
, but this does not preclude their existence. The absence of homology with various subtypes of
C. pecorum
, which complicate the diagnosis of the ovine abortion subtype, indicates the possible suitability of the these 90-kDa proteins as serodiagnostic antigens.

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