Background: Lipoproteins are the major agonists of Wolbachia-dependent inflammatory pathogenesis in filariasis and a validated target for drug discovery. Here we characterise the abundance, localisation and serology of the Wolbachia lipoproteins: Wolbachia peptidoglycan associated lipoprotein and the Type IV Secretion System component, VirB6.
Methods: We used proteomics to confirm lipoprotein presence and relative abundance; fractionation, immunoblotting and confocal and electron immuno-microscopy for localisation and ELISA for serological analysis.
Results: Proteomic analysis of Brugia malayi adult female protein extracts confirmed the presence of two lipoproteins, previously predicted through bioinformatics: Wolbachia peptidoglycan associated lipoprotein (wBmPAL) and the Type IV Secretion System component, VirB6 (wBmVirB6). wBmPAL was among the most abundant Wolbachia proteins present in an extract of adult female worms with wBmVirB6 only detected at a much lower abundance. This differential abundance was reflected in the immunogold-labelling, which showed wBmPAL localised at numerous sites within the bacterial membranes, whereas wBmVirB6 was present as a single cluster on each bacterial cell and also located within the bacterial membranes. Immunoblotting of fractionated extracts confirmed the localisation of wBmPAL to membranes and its absence from cytosolic fractions of C6/36 mosquito cells infected with wAlbB. In whole worm mounts, antibody labelling of both lipoproteins were associated with Wolbachia. Serological analysis showed that both proteins were immunogenic and raised antibody responses in the majority of individuals infected with Wuchereria bancrofti.
Conclusions: Two Wolbachia lipoproteins, wBmPAL and wBmVirB6, are present in extracts of Brugia malayi with wBmPAL among the most abundant of Wolbachia proteins. Both lipoproteins localised to bacterial membranes with wBmVirB6 present as a single cluster suggesting a single Type IV Secretory System on each Wolbachia cell.