Identification and partial characterization of acid phosphatases from Haemophilus parasuis

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


The Gram-negative bacterium Haemophilus parasuis is common in the upper respiratory tract of healthy swine and is the etiological agent of Glässer´s disease, which is characterized by fibrinous polyserositis and polyarthritis. In the last few years the prevalence of respiratory infections, including those by H. parasuis, has increased due to management practices, as early weaning, and the emergence of immunosuppressive viruses. Little is known about the pathogenesis and virulence factors of H. parasuis and this complicates the control of the disease. Acid phosphatases are ubiquitous in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms and much attention has been given to these enzymes in order to understand their structures, functions, and catalytic mechanisms. In many Gram-negative bacteria these enzymes have been determined to play a critical role in numerous processes, including pathogenesis. Previous results by our group showed the presence of a secreted acid phosphatase in the culture supernatant of some strains of H. parasuis. Interestingly, the secretion of the phosphatase activity was lost after passages of the bacteria in the laboratory, indicating a role of this enzyme in the infection. Therefore the main objective of this thesis was to identify and characterize the genes responsible for this secreted phosphatase activity. Screening of a genomic library from the virulent strain ER-6P of H. parasuis identified 2 clones with phosphatase activity. These clones contained genes aphA and pgpB, respectively. The subsequent cloning and analysis of the genes demonstrated that their products were in fact phosphatases. Specifically, AphA presented characteristics of bacterial class B acid phosphatases, including the typical catalytic domain (motif F-D-I-D-D-TV-L-F-S-S-P, located in the N-terminal moiety, and Y-G-D-[AS]-D-X-D-[IV] located near the C-terminus), a predicted molecular weight of 24.33 KDa and inhibition by EDTA. Bacterial class B acid phosphatases are a group of homotetrameric enzymes, which are present in a minority of bacteria, most of which are important pathogens. PgpB is a phosphatidylglycerophosphate phosphatase, with six transmembrane domains in the predicted protein, which would explain its location in the bacterial cell. Both proteins, AphA and PgpB, showed a different optimal pH than the activity secreted by H. parasuis into the supernatant. In an attempt to purify the phosphatase from the H. parasuis supernatant, a size exclusion chromatography was performed and fractions with phosphatase activity were analyzed by SDS-PAGE and MALDI-TOF-TOF. A hypothetical protein HPS_05483 was identified in the fractions with phosphatase activity, but cloning and native expression of the gene was not achieved. However, the protein HPS_05483 was purified as a His-tagged protein and antibodies in infected pigs were detected against it, indicating that this protein is expressed during infection. Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) were produced against a phosphatase-positive supernatant from H. parasuis and an initial screening of the mAb identified several hybridomas with reaction against AphA. Further screenings are needed to identify mAb against the secreted phosphatase found in the supernatant of H. parasuis. Finally, the effect of the phosphatase-positive supernatant on porcine alveolar macrophages was studied. The level of macrophage surface markers CD163, SLAI, SLAII, sialoadhesin and SWC3 was not affected by incubation with supernatants from H. parasuis or supernatant from a clone secreting AphA. In conclusion, we have identified and partially characterize 2 phosphatases of H. parasuis, AphA and PgpB. More studies are needed to determine if the hypothetical protein HPS_05483 is in fact a phosphatase. The role of these enzymatic activities in the biology of H. parasuis needs to be further studied.
Date of Award18 Nov 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorVirginia Aragón Fernández (Director)


  • Acid phosphatases
  • Haemophilus parasuis
  • Proteins

Cite this