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Mol Microbiol. 1992 Sep;6(18):2617-28.

Antibodies to N-terminal peptides of gonococcal porin are bactericidal when gonococcal lipopolysaccharide is not sialylated.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599.


Six synthetic 25-mer peptides corresponding to certain presumed surface-exposed regions of gonococcal porin protein I (PI) were made from strains FA19 (PIA) and MS11 (PIB). Four peptides were immunogenic in rabbits. Affinity-purified antisera against both PIA and PIB N-terminal peptides were bactericidal for homologous gonococci and many heterologous PI serovars. However, sialylation of gonococcal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) by growth of gonococci in the presence of cytidine monophosphate-neuraminic acid (CMP-NANA) abrogated the bactericidal activity of these antisera. Binding of anti-PI monoclonal antibodies to whole gonococci was reduced two- to fourfold by sialylation of LPS, suggesting that sialylation may inhibit bactericidal activity by masking porin epitopes. However, binding of anti-PII (Opa) monoclonal antibodies was not inhibited, yet complement-mediated killing was inhibited by sialylated LPS. Binding of complement components C3 and C9 was inhibited in the presence of either anti-PI or anti-PII monoclonals when gonococci were grown in the presence of CMP-NANA. Thus sialylation inhibited both anti-PI antibody binding and complement deposition, with a resultant decrease in bactericidal activity.

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