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Microbiology. 2002 Jan;148(Pt 1):169-78.

Immunological response mounted by Aboriginal Australians living in the Northern Territory of Australia against Streptococcus pyogenes serum opacity factor.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.


Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A streptococcus) interacts with host fibronectin via a number of distinct surface components. The streptococcal serum opacity factor (SOF) is a cell-surface protein of S. pyogenes which causes opalescence of human serum and mediates bacterial binding to fibronectin. In this study, hexahistidyl-tagged fusion proteins encompassing full-length SOF, and domains of SOF encompassing opacity factor activity and fibronectin-binding regions, were used in the characterization of the Aboriginal immune response to SOF. Anti-SOF serum IgG responses were found to be significantly higher (P<0.0001) in Aboriginal adults and children when compared to a non-Aboriginal adult group. The Aboriginal immune response against the fibronectin-binding region of SOF was significantly reduced when compared to the response against the whole SOF protein and N-terminal domains examined in this study (P<0.001). This pattern of immune response was also observed in rabbits immunized with recombinant SOF. Comparison of the deduced amino acid sequence of SOF from a number of common Australian isolates with other SOF sequences revealed that the N-terminus of SOF exhibits sequence similarity values ranging from 42.9% to 96.5%. The C-terminus containing the fibronectin-binding domain and membrane-spanning regions was more highly conserved, exhibiting sequence similarity values ranging from 84.6% to 100% within the fibronectin-binding repeats. These data suggest that the immune response against SOF is directed toward the variable N-terminus of the SOF protein. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the sof genes of S. pyogenes do not exhibit geographical variation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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