A cytochrome c peroxidase (CCP) produced by Neisseria gonorrhoeae has been shown to have novel characteristics by investigating its location, expression and role in Neisseria gonorrhoeae and by expression in Escherichia coli. Analysis of the N-terminus of CCP indicated that it is a lipoprotein with a signal peptide for cleavage by signal peptidase II. Expression of the gonococcal CCP in E. coli revealed that it is first synthesized as a pro-apo-cytochrome that is translocated across the cytoplasmic membrane. The signal peptide is cleaved and haem is attached in the periplasm. The gonococcal CCP was associated with the membrane of both E. coli and N. gonorrhoeae. The expression of a MalE–CCP fusion protein has allowed characterization of CCP in vitro. Evidence is presented that CCP protects gonococci from hydrogen peroxide, presumably in the periplasmic compartment of the cell. The expression of CCP is dependent on the transcription factor FNR, but is repressed by nitrite, indicating that it could be most important in the stationary-phase response. These data support the hypothesis that the gonococcal lipoprotein CCP is anchored to the membrane in the periplasm, where it might be responsible for the reduction of hydrogen peroxide. Other putative CCP lipoproteins have been identified, representing a new subclass of bacterial CCP proteins.

Abbreviations used: CCP, cytochrome c peroxidase; GC broth, gonococcal broth; IPTG, isopropyl β-d-thiogalactoside.

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