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Infect Immun. Feb 1992; 60(2): 385–391.
PMCID: PMC257640

Characterization of an 18,000-molecular-weight outer membrane protein of Haemophilus ducreyi that contains a conserved surface-exposed epitope.


Identification of antigenically conserved surface components of Haemophilus ducreyi may facilitate the development of reagents to diagnose and prevent chancroid. A hybridoma derived from a mouse immunized with nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae produced a monoclonal antibody (MAb), designated 3B9, that bound to 35 of 35 H. ducreyi strains isolated from diverse geographic regions. The MAb 3B9 bound to a non-heat-modifiable H. ducreyi outer membrane protein (OMP) whose apparent molecular weight was 18,000 (the 18K OMP), and the 3B9 epitope did not phase vary at a rate of greater than 10(-3) in H. ducreyi. In immunoelectron microscopy, the 3B9 epitope was surface exposed, and there was intrastrain and interstrain variability in the amount of 3B9 labelling of whole cells. The MAb 3B9 cross-reacted with many species of the family Pasteurellaceae and bound to the 16.6K peptidoglycan-associated lipoprotein (P6 or PAL) of H. influenzae. Unlike P6, the 18K OMP did not copurify with peptidoglycan. In Western blots (immunoblots), five of seven serum samples obtained from patients with chancroid and four of five serum samples obtained from patients with other genital ulcer diseases at the time of presentation contained antibodies that bound to the 18K OMP. In a competition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, four of these serum samples inhibited the binding of 3B9 to H. ducreyi by more than 50%. We conclude that members of Pasteurellaceae expressed a conserved epitope on OMPs that sometimes had different physical characteristics. Patients with chancroid usually have antibodies to the 18K OMP and the 3B9 epitope that may have resulted from infection with H. ducreyi or previous exposure to other Haemophilus or Actinobacillus sp. strains.

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