The effect of haem limitation and iron restriction on outer membrane proteins and on respiratory systems of non typable Haemophilus influenzae
The effects of haem limitation and iron restriction on cells of non typable Haemophilus influenzae were investigated. Haem limitation was achieved by adding concentrations of haem to growth media which resulted in substantial decreases in final cell yields. Iron restriction was achieved by substituting protoporphyrin IX (PPIX) for haem in the growth medium and adding an iron chelator to the system. The effect of these nutrient limitations on a) outer membrane composition, and b) respiratory systems of non typable H.influenzae was investigated. Several of the strains examined produced new PPIX-specific outer membrane proteins when cultured utilising PPIX as a porphyrin source. The immune response of patients with bronchiectasis to outer membrane antigens of H.influenzae cultured under iron-restricted conditions was analysed by ELISA and immunoblotting techniques. ELISA analysis revealed that individuals with severe bronchiectasis had high titres of antibodies directed against H.influenzae OMs in both serum and sputum. Immunoblotting with homologous serum showed that where PPIX-specific OMPs were produced they were antigenic and were recognised by patients' serum. This suggested that these H.influenzae OMPs may be expressed in vivo. Additionally, the development of the immune responses to non typable H.influenzae outer membrane antigens was investigated using a rat lung model. Bacteria encased in agar beads were inoculated intratracheally into rat lungs, infection was established, and the immune response monitored for 6 weeks. The animals developed antibodies to PPIX-specific OMPs during the course of infection, providing further evidence that H.influenzae express these novel OMP antigens when growing in vivo. Studies in vitro on respiratory systems of phenotypically altered H.influenzae showed that bacteria grown utilising PPIX as a porphyrin source, or under conditions of iron-restriction produced ten fold fewer cytochromes than cells grown in nutrient excess, while haem limited H.influenzae produced no detectable cytochromes. Respiration of various substrates was depressed in haem limited and in PPIX-grown cultures as compared with cells grown in nutrient excess.