We have reported previously the identification of novel proteins of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by the immunoscreening of an expression library of M. tuberculosis genomic DNA with sera obtained from M. tuberculosis-infected rabbits at 5 weeks postinfection. In this study, we report the further characterization of one of these antigens, LipC (Rv0220). LipC is annotated as a member of the Lip family based on the presence of the consensus motif "GXSXG" characteristic of esterases. Although predicted to be a cytoplasmic enzyme, we provide evidence that LipC is a cell surface protein that is present in both the cell wall and the capsule of M. tuberculosis. Consistent with this localization, LipC elicits strong humoral immune responses in both HIV-negative (HIV -) and HIV-positive (HIV +) tuberculosis (TB) patients. The absence of anti-LipC antibodies in sera from purified protein derivative-positive (PPD +) healthy subjects confirms its expression only during active M. tuberculosis infection. Epitope mapping of LipC identified 6 immunodominant epitopes, 5 of which map to the exposed surface of the modeled LipC protein. The recombinant LipC (rLipC) protein also elicits proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine responses from macrophages and pulmonary epithelial cells. rLipC can hydrolyze short-chain esters with the carbon chain containing 2 to 10 carbon atoms. Together, these studies demonstrate that LipC is a novel cell surface-associated esterase of M. tuberculosis that is highly immunogenic and elicits both antibodies and cytokines/chemokines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases