Proteolytic inactivation of the leukocyte C5a receptor by proteinases derived from Porphyromonas gingivalis Academic Article uri icon


  • The anaerobic bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis has been implicated as a primary causative agent in adult periodontitis. Several proteinases are produced by this bacterium, and it is suggested that they contribute to virulence and to local tissue injury resulting from infection by P. gingivalis. Cysteine proteinases with specificities to cleave either Arg-X or Lys-X peptide bonds (i.e., gingipains) have been characterized as predominant enzymes associated with vesicles shed from the surface of this bacterium. It has recently been demonstrated that these proteinases are capable of degrading the blood complement component C5, resulting in the generation of biologically active C5a. By using an affinity-purified rabbit antibody raised against residues 9 to 29 of the C5a receptor (C5aR; CD88), we demonstrate that noncysteinyl proteinases associated with vesicles obtained from P. gingivalis cleave the C5aR on human neutrophils. Proteolytic attack of the C5aR by enzymes from the P. gingivalis vesicles was inhibited by TPCK (tolylsullonyl phenylalanyl chloromethyl ketone), PMSF (phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride), and dichloroisocoumarin, suggesting that serine proteinases are primarily responsible for this degradative activity. The purified vesicle proteinase Lys-gingipain but not Arg-gingipain also cleaved the N-terminal region of the C5aR on the human neutrophils. Lys-gingipain activity was essentially resistant to these inhibitors but was inhibited by TLCK (Nalpha-p-tosyl-L-lysine chloromethyl ketone) and iodoacetamide. A synthetic peptide that mimics the N-terminal region of C5aR (residues 9 to 29; PDYGHY DDKDTLDLNTPVDKT) was readily cleaved by chymotrypsin but not by trypsin, despite the presence of two potential trypsin (i.e., lysyl-X) cleavage sites. The specific sites of cleavage in the C5aR 9-29 peptide were determined by mass spectroscopy for both chymotrypsin and Lys-gingipain digests. This analysis demonstrated that the C5aR peptide is susceptible to cleavage at both potential Lys-gingipain sites (i.e., between residues 17 and 18 [K-D] and 28 and 29 [K-T]) and at two chymotrypsin sites (between residues 14 and 15 [Y-D] and 20 and 21 [L-D]), respectively. These studies suggest that P. gingivalis contains at least two enzymes capable of cleaving the C5aR, Lys-gingipain and a second nontryptic serine proteinase that is distinct from either Arg- or Lys-gingipain.


  • Jagels, MA
  • Travis, J
  • Potempa, J
  • Pike, R
  • Hugli, TE

publication date

  • June 1, 1996