Clumping factor B (ClfB), a new surface-located fibrinogen-binding adhesin of Staphylococcus aureus

D Ní Eidhin, S Perkins, P Francois, P Vaudaux, M Höök, T J Foster
Molecular Microbiology 1998, 30 (2): 245-57
The surface-located fibrinogen-binding protein (clumping factor; ClfA) of Staphylococcus aureus has an unusual dipeptide repeat linking the ligand binding domain to the wall-anchored region. Southern blotting experiments revealed several other loci in the S. aureus Newman genome that hybridized to a probe comprising DNA encoding the dipeptide repeat. One of these loci is analysed here. It also encodes a fibrinogen-binding protein, which we have called ClfB. The overall organization of ClfB is very similar to that of ClfA, and the proteins have considerable sequence identity in the signal sequence and wall attachment domains. However, the A regions are only 26% identical. Recombinant biotinylated ClfB protein bound to fibrinogen in Western ligand blots. ClfB reacted with the alpha- and beta-chains of fibrinogen in the ligand blots in contrast to ClfA, which binds exclusively to the gamma-chain. Analysis of proteins released from the cell wall of S. aureus Newman by Western immunoblotting using antibody raised against the recombinant A region of ClfB identified a 124 kDa protein as the clfB gene product. This protein was detectable only on cells that were grown to the early exponential phase. It was absent from cells from late exponential phase or stationary phase cultures. Using a clfB mutant isolated by allelic replacement alone and in combination with a clfA mutation, the ClfB protein was shown to promote (i) clumping of exponential-phase cells in a solution of fibrinogen, (ii) adherence of exponential-phase bacteria to immobilized fibrinogen in vitro, and (iii) bacterial adherence to ex vivo human haemodialysis tubing, suggesting that it could contribute to the pathogenicity of biomaterial-related infections. However, in wild-type exponential-phase S. aureus Newman cultures, ClfB activity was masked by the ClfA protein, and it did not contribute at all to interactions of cells from stationary-phase cultures with fibrinogen. ClfB-dependent bacterial adherence to immobilized fibrinogen was inhibited by millimolar concentrations of Ca2+ and Mn2+, which indicates that, like ClfA, ligand binding by ClfB is regulated by a low-affinity inhibitory cation binding site.


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