Infection and Immunity
Colonies of Neisseria gonorrhoeae JS3, each bearing a predominate protein II (PII) type, were derived from a progenitor transparent colony. Five distinct PIIs were identified and isolated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The PII bands were excised from gels of unlabeled whole cells and from gels containing lysates of surface-radioiodinated bacteria. These were subjected to alpha-chymotrypsin digestion and two-dimensional peptide mapping, which allowed for a comparison of both the primary structures of the PIIs and the identification of surface-exposed regions of the molecules. The results demonstrated that PIIs are unrelated to either Protein I or Protein III in structure but are closely related to one another, sharing about two-thirds of the peptides generated by alpha-chymotrypsin. The remaining third of the peptides varied with each PII, resulting in unique portions of the molecule being exposed on the bacterial surface. However, the variable peptides were not always among the exposed peptides, suggesting that the structural differences in the PIIs occur at a discrete site (or sites) of the PII molecule and not randomly throughout the protein. Such alterations can result in the exposure of distant, nonvariant portions of the molecule to the surface, perhaps by conformational changes. These bacteria can thus present a variety of new immunodeterminant sites to the host during the course of disease.