Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.105, No.18, 6819-6833, 2021
Identification of a specific surface epitope of OmpC for Escherichia coli O157:H7 with protein topology facilitated affinity mass spectrometry
The goal of this work was to identify the target protein and epitope of a previously reported Escherichia coli O157:H7 (ECO157)-specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) 2G12. mAb 2G12 has shown high specificity for the recovery and detection of ECO157. To achieve this goal, the target protein was first separated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and located by Western blot (WB). The protein spots were identified to be the outer membrane protein (Omp) C by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS). After that, the target protein was purified by immunoaffinity chromatography (IAC) and subjected to in situ enzymatic cleavage of the vulnerable peptides. Eight eluted peptides of OmpC identified by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) were further mapped onto the homologous protein structure of E. coli OmpC (2IXX). The topology of OmpC showed that three peptides had extracellular loops. Epitope mapping with overlapping peptide library and sequence homology analysis revealed that the epitope consisted of a specific peptide, "LGVING," and an adjacent conservative peptide, "TQTYNATRVGSLG." Both peptides loop around the overall structure of the epitope. To test the availability of the epitope when ECO157 was grown under different osmolarity, pH, and nutrition levels, the binding efficacy of mAb 2G12 with ECO157 grown in these conditions was evaluated. Results further demonstrated the good stability of this epitope under potential stressful environmental conditions. In summary, this study revealed that mAb 2G12 targeted one specific and one conservative extracellular loop (peptide) of the OmpC present on ECO157, and the epitope was stable and accessible on ECO157 cells grown in different environment.