Major outer membrane proteins of Brucella spp.: Past, present and future

Document Type


Publication Date



The major outer membrane proteins (OMPs) of Brucella spp. were initially identified in the early 1980s and characterised as potential immunogenic and protective antigens. They were classified according to their apparent molecular mass as 36-38kDa OMPs or group 2 porin proteins and 31-34 and 25-27kDa OMPs which belong to the group 3 proteins. The genes encoding the group 2 porin proteins were identified in the late 1980s and consist of two genes, omp2a and omp2b, which are closely linked in the Brucella genome, and which share a great degree of identity (>85%). In the 1990s, two genes were identified coding for the group 3 proteins and were named omp25 and omp31. The predicted amino acid sequences of omp25 and omp31 share 34% identity. The recent release of the genome sequence of B. melitensis 16M has revealed the presence of five additional gene products homologous to Omp25 and Omp31. The use of recombinant protein technology and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) has shown that the major OMPs appear to be of little relevance as antigens in smooth (S) B. abortus or B. melitensis infections i.e. low or no protective activity in the mouse model of infection and low or no immunogenicity during host infection. However, group 3 proteins, in particular Omp31, appear as immunodominant antigen in the course of rough (R) B. ovis infection in rams and as important protective antigen in the B. ovis mouse model of infection. The major OMP genes display diversity and specific markers have been identified for Brucella species, biovars, and strains, including the recent marine mammal Brucella isolates for which new species names have been proposed. Recently, Omp25 has been shown to be involved in virulence of B. melitensis, B. abortus and B. ovis. Mutants lacking Omp25 are indeed attenuated in animal models of infection, and moreover provide levels of protection similar or better than currently used attenuated vaccine strain B. melitensis Rev.1. Therefore, these mutant strains appear interesting vaccine candidates for the future. The other group 3 proteins identified in the genome merit also further investigation related to the development of new vaccines. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Veterinary Microbiology

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.