1.B.65 The Outer Membrane Porin OpcA (OpcA) Family
OpcA is an integral outer membrane protein from Neisseria meningitidis, the causative agent of meningococcal meningitis and septicemia. It mediates the adhesion of N. meningitidis to epithelial and endothelial cells by binding to vitronectin and proteoglycan cell-surface receptors. Prince et al. (2002) reported determination of the crystal structure of OpcA to 2.0 A resolution (PDB# 2VDF). OpcA adopts a 10-stranded beta-barrel structure with extensive loop regions that protrude above the predicted surface of the membrane. The second external loop adopts an unusual conformation, traversing the axis of the beta-barrel and apparently blocking formation of a pore through the membrane. Loops 2, 3, 4 and 5 associate to form one side of a crevice in the external surface of the structure, the other side being formed by loop 1. The crevice is lined by positively charged residues and would form an ideal binding site for proteoglycan polysaccharide. The structure, therefore, suggests a model for how adhesion of this pathogen to proteoglycan is mediated. All five extracellular loops of OpcA have stable secondary structures (Luan et al. 2007). The loops form a funnel that leads to the base of the beta-barrel. Tyr-169 on its exposed surface has been implicated in proteoglycan binding.
Mobility of extracellular loops may play an important role in the function of outer membrane proteins from Gram-negative bacteria. Molecular dynamics simulations of OpcA from Neisseria meningitidis, embedded in a lipid bilayer, have been used to explore the relationship between the crystal structure and dynamic function of this protein (Bond et al. 2007). The results suggested that the crystal environment may constrain the membrane protein structure in a nonphysiological state. The presence of lipids and physiological salt concentrations result in changes in the conformation of the extracellular loops of OpcA, leading to opening of a pore, and to modulation of the molecular surface implicated in recognition of proteoglycan. These changes may be related to the role of OpcA in pathogenesis via modulation of the conformation of a possible sialic acid binding site. OpcA ls a lectin capable of binding sugars ().