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Infect Immun. 1995 Oct;63(10):4003-10.

Cloning, sequencing, and expression of the apa gene coding for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis 45/47-kilodalton secreted antigen complex.

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  • 1Unité de Physiopathologie de l'Infection, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


Effective protection against a virulent challenge with Mycobacterium tuberculosis is induced mainly by previous immunization with living attenuated mycobacteria, and it has been hypothesized that secreted proteins serve as major targets in the specific immune response. To identify and purify molecules present in culture medium filtrate which are dominant antigens during effective vaccination, a two-step selection procedure was used to select antigens able to interact with T lymphocytes and/or antibodies induced by immunization with living bacteria and to counterselect antigens interacting with the immune effectors induced by immunization with dead bacteria. A Mycobacterium bovis BCG 45/47-kDa antigen complex, present in BCG culture filtrate, has been previously identified and isolated (F. Romain, A. Laqueyrerie, P. Militzer, P. Pescher, P. Chavarot, M. Lagranderie, G. Auregan, M. Gheorghiu, and G. Marchal, Infect. Immun. 61:742-750, 1993). Since the cognate antibodies recognize the very same antigens present in M. tuberculosis culture medium filtrates, a project was undertaken to clone, express, and sequence the corresponding gene of M. tuberculosis. An M. tuberculosis shuttle cosmid library was transferred in Mycobacterium smegmatis and screened with a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to detect the clones expressing the proteins. A clone containing a 40-kb DNA insert was selected, and by means of subcloning in Escherichia coli, a 2-kb fragment that coded for the molecules was identified. An open reading frame in the 2,061-nucleotide sequence codes for a secreted protein with a consensus signal peptide of 39 amino acids and a predicted molecular mass of 28,779 Da. The gene was referred to as apa because of the high percentages of proline (21.7%) and alanine (19%) in the purified protein. Southern hybridization analysis of digested total genomic DNA from M. tuberculosis (reference strains H37Rv and H37Ra) indicated that the apa gene was present as a single copy on the genome. The N-terminal identity or homology of the M. tuberculosis and M. bovis BCG purified molecules and their similar global and deduced amino acid compositions demonstrated the perfect correspondence between the molecular and chemical analyses. The presence of a high percentage of proline (21.7%) was confirmed and explained the apparent higher molecular mass (45/47 kDa) determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis resulting from the increased rigidity of molecules due to proline residues.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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