The surface-exposed carboxyl region of Mycoplasma pneumoniae elongation factor Tu interacts with fibronectin

Sowmya Balasubramanian, T. R. Kannan, Joel B. Baseman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacterial pathogen of the human respiratory tract that causes a wide range of airway diseases as well as extrapulmonary symptoms. It possesses a distinct, differentiated terminal structure, termed the attachment organelle, that mediates adherence to the host respiratory epithelium. Previously, we reported that surface-associated M. pneumoniae elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu, also called MPN665) serves as a fibronectin (Fn)-binding protein, facilitating interactions between mycoplasmas and extracellular matrix. In the present study, we determined that binding of M. pneumoniae EF-Tu to Fn is primarily mediated by the EF-Tu carboxyl region. A 179-amino-acid region spanning the carboxyl terminus (designated EC; amino acids 192 to 394) binds Fn in a dose-dependent manner. Further analysis of carboxyl constructs (ED3 and ED4) and their deletion truncations (ED3.1, ED3.2, and ED4.1) revealed that the carboxyl region possessed two distinct sites with different Fn-binding efficiencies. Immunogold electron microscopy using antibodies raised against recombinant ED3 and ED4 demonstrated the surface accessibility of the EF-Tu carboxyl region. Competitive binding assays using intact radiolabeled mycoplasmas and purified recombinant ED3 and ED4 proteins, along with antibody blocking assays, reinforced the role of the surface-exposed EF-Tu carboxyl region in Fn binding. Alkali and high-salt treatment of mycoplasma membranes and Triton X-114-partitioned mycoplasma fractions confirmed the stable association of EF-Tu within the mycoplasma membrane. These observations highlight the unique, multifaceted, and unpredictable role of the classically defined cytoplasmic protein EF-Tu relative to cellular function, compartmentalization, and topography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3116-3123
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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