Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identification, expression and serological evaluation of the recombinant ATP synthase beta subunit of Mycoplasma pneumoniae

Hélène Nuyttens2*, Camille Cyncynatus2, Hélène Renaudin1, Sabine Pereyre1 and Cécile Bébéar1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratoire de Bactériologie EA 3671, Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux and CHU de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France

2 InGen BioSciences, Chilly Mazarin, France

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:216  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-216

Published: 11 August 2010



Mycoplasma pneumoniae is responsible for acute respiratory tract infections (RTIs) common in children and young adults. As M. pneumoniae is innately resistant to β-lactams antibiotics usually given as the first-line treatment for RTIs, specific and early diagnosis is important in order to select the right treatment. Serology is the most used diagnostic method for M. pneumoniae infections.


In this study, we identified the M. pneumoniae ATP synthase beta subunit (AtpD) by serologic proteome analysis and evaluated its usefulness in the development of a serological assay. We successfully expressed and purified recombinant AtpD (rAtpD) protein, which was recognised by serum samples from M. pneumoniae-infected patient in immunoblots. The performance of the recombinant protein rAtpD was studied using a panel of serum samples from 103 infected patients and 86 healthy blood donors in an in-house IgM, IgA and IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The results of this assay were then compared with those of an in-house ELISA with a recombinant C-terminal fragment of the P1 adhesin (rP1-C) and of the commercial Ani Labsystems ELISA kit using an adhesin P1-enriched whole-cell extract. Performances of the rAtpD and rP1-C antigen combination were further assessed by binary logistic regression analysis. We showed that combination of rAtpD and rP1-C discriminated maximally between the patients infected with M. pneumoniae (children and adults) and the healthy subjects for the IgM class, performing better than the single recombinant antigens or the commercial whole-cell extract.


These results suggest that AtpD can be used as an antigen for the immunodiagnosis of early and acute M. pneumoniae infection in association with adhesin P1, providing an excellent starting point for the development of point-of-care diagnostic assays.