Skip to main content
Log in

Identifying Leptospira interrogans putative virulence factors with a yeast protein expression screen

  • Applied Genetics and Molecular Biotechnology
  • Published:
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by pathogenic Leptospira spp., with global implications primarily in tropical countries. However, the mechanisms of leptospiral pathogenesis are still not fully known and not all virulence factors (VFs) have been identified. Budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a popular eukaryotic model which has been used to identify bacterial VFs that target the conserved eukaryotic cellular processes. In this study, we screened for putative VFs of L. interrogans, one of the dominant species causing leptospirosis, by expressing candidate VFs in budding yeast and examining their impact on yeast growth in a high-throughput format. From an initial selection of 288 L. interrogans ORFs, we screened 226 candidate VFs in a yeast growth inhibition assay and identified nine putative VFs in four categories (adhesion, enzymatic, host structure interaction, and immunogenicity). Notably, LIC10280 was highly toxic even when expressed at low copies. We also observed specific subcellular localization for several putative VFs. This study shows that there are still potential L. interrogans VFs that await discovery.

Key points

• High-throughput cloning and expression of leptospiral proteins in yeast.

• Heterologous expression of nine leptospiral proteins inhibited yeast growth.

• An uncharacterized protein LIC10280 maybe a putative VF for further validation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Similar content being viewed by others

Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article [and its supplementary information files].


Download references


The authors would like to thank Professor Yoshikazu Ohya from the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan, for training in yeast staining, and the Bioprobe Application Research Unit, RIKEN Centre for Sustainable Resource Science, for the use of the Bio Microplate Reader HiTS (Cosmo Bio, Japan).


This study was funded by the USM RUI grants number 1001/CIPPM/812147 and 1001/CIPPM/8012262 awarded to EBBO, MRS, AT, and RN.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



WYL and ZW carried out experiments and data analysis. WYL and ZW drafted the manuscript. EBBO conceived the idea, designed the experiments, and analyzed the data. All authors were involved in discussions, review, and manuscript revision.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eugene Boon Beng Ong.

Ethics declarations

Ethical approval.

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (PDF 1984 KB)

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lai, W.Y., Wong, Z., Chang, C.H. et al. Identifying Leptospira interrogans putative virulence factors with a yeast protein expression screen. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 106, 6567–6581 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: