Filamentous hemagglutinin (FHA) mediates adherence and plays an important role in lower respiratory tract infections by pathogenic Bordetellae. The mature FHA proteins of B. pertussis (Bp-FHA) and the B. bronchiseptica (Bb-FHA) are generated by processing of the respective FhaB precursors by the autotransporter subtilisin-type protease SphB1. We have used bottom-up proteomics with differential 16O/18O labeling and show that despite high-sequence conservation of the corresponding FhaB segments, the mature Bp-FHA (~ 230 kDa) and Bb-FHA (~ 243 kDa) proteins are processed at different sites of FhaB, after the Ala-2348 and Lys-2479 residues, respectively. Moreover, protease surface accessibility probing by on-column (on-line) digestion of the Bp-FHA and Bb-FHA proteins yielded different peptide patterns, revealing structural differences in the N-terminal and C-terminal domains of the Bp-FHA and Bb-FHA proteins. These data indicate specific structural variations between the highly homologous FHA proteins.
Keywords: Bordetella bronchiseptica; Bordetella pertussis; bacterial pathogenesis; mass spectrometry (MS); protein processing; serine protease.