The major cell-wall-associated protein of the equine pathogen subsp. is an M-like fibrinogen-binding protein (FgBP) which binds equine fibrinogen (Fg) avidly, through residues located at the extreme N-terminus of the molecule. In this study, it is shown that FgBP additionally binds equine IgG-Fc. When tested against polyclonal IgG from ten other animal species, it was found that FgBP binds human, rabbit, pig and cat IgG, but does not bind mouse, rat, goat, sheep, cow or chicken IgG. Through the use of a panel of recombinant FgBP truncates containing defined deletions of sequence, it was shown that residues in the central regions of FgBP are important in IgG binding. An knockout mutant which does not express FgBP on the cell surface was also constructed. Mutant cells failed to autoaggregate, bound no detectable equine Fg or IgG-Fc, were rapidly killed in horse blood, and showed greatly decreased virulence in a mouse model. Results suggest that FgBP is the major surface structure responsible for binding either Fg or IgG, that the molecule has pronounced antiphagocytic properties, and that it is a likely factor contributing to the virulence of wild-type subsp. .


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