The virulence plasmid-encoded YadA of Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:3 is a 430-amino-acid outer membrane protein, synthesized with a 25-amino-acid signal peptide. YadA forms homotrimeric surface structures that function as adhesin between bacteria and collagen as well as other host proteins. The structure-function relationships of YadA were studied, and the collagen-binding determinants of YadA were located to its amino-terminal half. Collagen did not bind to any of the overlapping 16-mer YadA peptides, indicating that the collagen binding site of YadA is conformational. Epitope mapping of YadA identified 12 linear antigenic epitopes altogether. Seven epitopes were uniquely recognized by an anti-YadA antiserum able to inhibit collagen binding. Four of these epitopes shared a motif NSVAIG-S that is repeated eight times within the N-terminal half of YadA. Site-directed mutagenesis showed that these motifs are absolutely required for YadA-mediated collagen binding, revealing a novel type of collagen-binding mechanism.
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