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Microb Pathog. 2002 May;32(5):227-37.

Anti-V antigen antibody protects macrophages from Yersinia pestis -induced cell death and promotes phagocytosis.

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Division of Bacteriology, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21702-5011, USA.


The pathogenic Yersinia spp. harbor a common plasmid (pYV) essential for virulence. The plasmid encodes a type III secretion system that functions to translocate Yersinia outer proteins (Yops) into the host cytosol. Within the host cell, the Yops act to inhibit phagocytosis and induce apoptosis. One of the plasmid-encoded proteins, virulence antigen (V), is a major protective immunogen that is involved in Yop translocation. Yersinia pestis, like the enteric Yersinia spp., was both resistant to phagocytosis by and cytotoxic for J774.A1, a murine macrophage cell line. Both of these activities were dependent on culture of the bacteria at 37 degrees C for 1.5-2 h before infection. However, extending the preculture period at 37 degrees C to 24 h, which induced formation of a capsule, completely blocked cytotoxicity. Treating the bacteria with either rabbit polyclonal anti-V antibodies (R anti-V) or monoclonal antibody (MAb) 7.3, antibodies specific for V and protective against plague in vivo, protected J774.A1 cells from Y. pestis -induced cell death and also reversed the inhibition of phagocytosis. Whereas protection against cell cytotoxicity was afforded by the F(ab')(2) portion of R anti-V, the ability of anti-V to induce uptake of Y. pestis appeared to be dependent on the Fc portion of the Ab. The protective epitope(s) recognized by R anti-V was contained in the central region of Y. pestis V (aa 135-275) and were partially cross reactive with Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. enterocolitica serotype 08 V antigens.

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