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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1999 Jun;24(2):141-9.

Production and partial characterization of anti-cord factor (trehalose-6,6'-dimycolate) IgG antibody in rabbits recognizing mycolic acid subclasses of Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Mycobacterium avium.

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1
Department of Bacteriology, Osaka City University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.

Abstract

An ELISA with cord factor (trehalose-6,6'-dimycolate) is useful for the serodiagnosis of tuberculosis. To clarify the exact antigenic epitope in cord factor, recognized by a rabbit anti-cord factor IgG antibody, and to ascertain the most sensitive and specific diagnostic test antigen, rabbits were immunized with two kinds of cord factors isolated from Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Mycobacterium avium and the reactivities of the sera were tested against cord factors or the component mycolic acid methyl esters by ELISA. The serum from rabbits immunized with M. tuberculosis cord factor was highly reactive against M. tuberculosis cord factor, but less reactive against M. avium cord factor. In contrast, the serum from rabbits immunized with M. avium cord factor was highly reactive against M. avium cord factor but less reactive against M. tuberculosis cord factor. Moreover, the serum from rabbits immunized with M. tuberculosis cord factor reacted against mycolic acid methyl esters, especially methoxy mycolic acid methyl ester. On the other hand, the serum from rabbits immunized with M. tuberculosis cord factor was less reactive against trehalose-6-monomycolate and not reactive against sulfolipid (2,3,6,6'-tetraacyl trehalose 2'-sulfate). From these results, it was concluded that the anti-cord factor IgG antibody, produced experimentally in rabbits, recognized the differences in the cord factor structures, i.e. the hydrophobic moiety rather than the carbohydrate moiety. It was also noted that the serum from rabbits immunized with M. tuberculosis cord factor was highly reactive against methoxy mycolic acid as an epitope. This paper is the first to describe how the anti-cord factor IgG antibody can recognize the mycolic acid subclasses, which differ according to the species of mycobacteria.

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