Group B streptococci (GBS) express various surface antigens designated c, R, and X antigens. A new R-like surface protein from Streptococcus agalactiae strain Compton R has been identified by using a polyclonal antiserum raised against the R protein fraction of this strain to screen a lambda Zap library. DNA sequence analysis of positive clones allowed the prediction of the primary structure of a 105-kDa protein designated BPS protein (group B protective surface protein) that exhibited typical features of streptococcal surface proteins such as a signal sequence and a membrane anchor region but did not show significant similarity with other known sequences. Immunogold electron microscopy using a BPS-specific antiserum confirmed the surface location of BPS protein on S. agalactiae strain Compton R. Anti-BPS antibodies did not cross-react with R1 and R4 proteins expressed by two variant type III GBS strains but reacted with the parental streptococcal strain in Western blot and immunoprecipitation analyses. Separate R3 and BPS immunoprecipitation bands were observed when a cell extract of strain Compton R was tested with an antiserum against Compton R previously cross-absorbed to remove R4 antibodies. Immunization of mice with recombinant BPS protein by the subcutaneous route produced an efficient antigen-specific response, and immunized animals survived challenge with a lethal dose of a virulent strain. Therefore, BPS protein represents a new R-like protective antigen of GBS.
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.