The majority of outer membrane (OM) lipoproteins in Gram-negative bacteria are tethered to the membrane via an attached lipid moiety and oriented facing in toward the periplasmic space; a few lipoproteins have been shown to be surface exposed. The outer membrane lipoprotein P6 from the Gram-negative pathogenic bacterium nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is surface exposed and a leading vaccine candidate for prevention of NTHi infections. However, we recently found that P6 is not a transmembrane protein as previously thought (L. V. Michel, B. Kalmeta, M. McCreary, J. Snyder, P. Craig, M. E. Pichichero, Vaccine 29:1624–1627, 2011). Here we pursued studies to show that P6 has a dual orientation, existing infrequently as surface exposed and predominantly as internally oriented toward the periplasmic space. Flow cytometry using three monoclonal antibodies with specificity for P6 showed surface staining of whole NTHi cells. Confocal microscopy imaging confirmed that antibodies targeted surface-exposed P6 of intact NTHi cells and not internal P6 in membrane-compromised or dead cells. Western blots of two wild-type NTHi strains and a mutant NTHi strain that does not express P6 showed that P6 antibodies do not detect a promiscuous epitope on NTHi. Depletion of targets to nonlipidated P6 significantly decreased bactericidal activity of human serum. Protease digestion of surface-exposed P6 demonstrated that P6 is predominantly internally localized in a manner similar to its homologue Pal in Escherichia coli. We conclude that P6 of NTHi is likely inserted into the OM in two distinct orientations, with the predominant orientation facing in toward the periplasm.

Publication Date



Copyright © 2013, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved. https://doi.org/10.1128/JB.00185-13

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)


RIT – Main Campus