Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are spherical and bilayered particles that are naturally released from the outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria. They have been proposed to possess several biological roles in pathogenesis and interbacterial interactions. Additionally, OMVs have been suggested as potential vaccine candidates against infections caused by pathogenic bacteria like Haemophilus influenzae, a human pathogen of the respiratory tract. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of fundamental knowledge regarding OMV biogenesis, protein sorting into OMVs, OMV size and quantity, as well as OMV composition in H. influenzae. Thus, this study comprehensively characterized and compared OMVs and OMs derived from heterologous encapsulated as well as nonencapsulated H. influenzae strains. Semiquantitative immunoblot analysis revealed that certain OM proteins are enriched or excluded in OMVs suggesting the presence of regulated protein sorting mechanisms into OMVs as well as interconnected OMV biogenesis mechanisms in H. influenzae. Nanoparticle tracking analysis, transmission electron microscopy, as well as protein and lipooligosaccharide quantifications demonstrated that heterologous H. influenzae strains differ in their OMV size and quantity. Lipidomic analyses identified palmitic acid as the most abundant fatty acid, while phosphatidylethanolamine was found to be the most dominant phospholipid present in OMVs and the OM of all strains tested. Proteomic analysis confirmed that H. influenzae OMVs contain vaccine candidate proteins as well as important virulence factors. These findings contribute to the understanding of OMV biogenesis as well as biological roles of OMVs and, in addition, may be important for the future development of OMV based vaccines against H. influenzae infections.
- Protein sorting