The vsa shield of mycoplasma pulmonis is antiphagocytic

Academic Article


  • The infection of mice with Mycoplasma pulmonis is a model for studying chronic mycoplasmal respiratory disease. Many in vivo and in vitro studies have used the organism to gain a better understanding of host-pathogen interactions in chronic respiratory infection. The organism's Vsa proteins contain an extensive tandem repeat region. The length of the tandem repeat unit varies from as few as 11 amino acids to as many as 19. The number of tandem repeats can be as high as 60. The number of repeats varies at a high frequency due to slipped-strand mispairing events that occur during DNA replication. When the number of repeats is high, e.g., 40, the mycoplasma is resistant to lysis by complement but does not form a robust biofilm. When the number of repeats is low, e.g., 5, the mycoplasma is killed by complement when the cells are dispersed but has the capacity to form a biofilm that resists complement. Here, we examine the role of the Vsa proteins in the avoidance of phagocytosis and find that cells producing a protein with many tandem repeats are relatively resistant to killing by macrophages. These results may be pertinent to understanding the functions of similar proteins that have extensive repeat regions in other microbes. © 2012, American Society for Microbiology.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Shaw BM; Simmons WL; Dybvig K
  • Start Page

  • 704
  • End Page

  • 709
  • Volume

  • 80
  • Issue

  • 2