Mass spectrometric characterization of the Campylobacter jejuni adherence factor CadF reveals post-translational processing that removes immunogenicity while retaining fibronectin binding

Proteomics. 2010 Jan;10(2):277-88. doi: 10.1002/pmic.200900440.


Campylobacter jejuni is a major gastrointestinal pathogen that colonizes host mucosa via interactions with extracellular matrix proteins, such as fibronectin (Fn). Fn-binding is mediated by a 37 kDa outer membrane protein termed Campylobacter adherence Factor (CadF). The outer membrane protein profile of a recent gastrointestinal C. jejuni clinical isolate (JHH1) was analysed using 2-DE and MS. Several spots were identified as products of the cadF gene. These included mass and pI variants of 34 and 30 kDa, as well as 24 kDa (CadF(24)) and 22 kDa (CadF(22)) mass variants. CadF variants were fully characterized by MALDI-TOF MS and MALDI-MS/MS. These data confirmed that CadF forms re-folding variants resulting in spots with lower mass and varying pI that are identical at the amino acid sequence level and are not modified post-translationally. CadF(22) and CadF(24), however, were characterized as N-terminal, membrane-associated polypeptides resulting from cleavage between serine(195) and leucine(196), and glycine(201) and phenylalanine(202), respectively. These variants were more abundant in the virulent (O) isolate of C. jejuni NCTC11168 when compared with the avirulent (genome sequenced) isolate. Hexahistidine fusion constructs of full-length CadF (34 kDa), CadF(24), and the deleted C-terminal OmpA domain (14 kDa; CadF(14)) were created in Escherichia coli. Recombinant CadF variants were probed against patient sera and revealed that only full-length CadF retained reactivity. Binding assays showed that CadF(24) retained Fn-binding capability, while CadF(14) did not bind Fn. These data suggest that the immunogenic epitope of CadF is cleaved to generate smaller Fn-binding polypeptides, which are not recognized by the host humoral response. CadF cleavage therefore may be associated with virulence in C. jejuni.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / immunology
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Campylobacter jejuni / chemistry*
  • Campylobacter jejuni / immunology
  • Campylobacter jejuni / metabolism*
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / immunology
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fibronectins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • CadF protein, Campylobacter jejuni
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Fibronectins