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Infect Immun. Oct 1979; 26(1): 143–149.
PMCID: PMC414586

Pathogenic Species of the Genus Haemophilus and Streptococcus pneumoniae Produce Immunoglobulin A1 Protease

Abstract

Thirty-seven strains of the genus Haemophilus and five strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae were examined for their ability to produce extracellular enzyme that cleaves immunoglobulin molecules. All strains of H. influenzae, H. aegyptius, and S. pneumoniae elaborated enzyme that selectively cleaved human immunoglobulin A1 (IgA1) myeloma proteins but was inactive against a variety of other proteins including human IgA2, IgG, and IgM, porcine and bovine secretory IgA, human and bovine serum albumins, and ovalbumin. Although susceptible, human secretory IgA remained largely undigested. Two strains of H. pleuropneumoniae isolated from fatally infected pigs cleaved porcine secretory IgA, but had no effect on human IgA proteins. None of 16 strains that belonged to nonpathogenic Haemophilus species produced IgA protease. Analyses of the cleavage products of human IgA1 and secretory IgA proteins by immunochemical methods, sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and analytical ultracentrifugation revealed that Fab and Fc fragments were produced. Since the production of IgA1 protease by Neisseria meningitidis has been reported previously, our finding that H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae produce an IgA1 protease indicates that this is a property of all three major etiological agents of bacterial meningitis. This suggests that IgA1 protease production may be an important factor in the pathogenesis of this disease.

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Selected References

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