We report the discovery of a broadly reactive antibody-binding protein (Protein M) from human mycoplasma. The crystal structure of the ectodomain of transmembrane Protein M differs from other known protein structures, as does its mechanism of antibody binding. Protein M binds with high affinity to all types of human and nonhuman immunoglobulin G, predominantly through attachment to the conserved portions of the variable region of the k and l light chains. Protein M blocks antibody-antigen union, likely because of its large C-terminal domain extending over the antibody-combining site, blocking entry to large antigens. Similar to the other immunoglobulin-binding proteins such as Protein A, Protein M as well as its orthologs in other Mycoplasma species could become invaluable reagents in the antibody field.
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