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J Infect Dis. 1992 Jan;165(1):53-68.

A comparison of the variable antigens expressed by clone IV-1 and subgroup III of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A.

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Max-Planck Institut für molekulare Genetik, Berlin, Germany.


Serogroup A Neisseria meningitidis of subgroup III has caused two pandemics of meningococcal meningitis since 1966 and recently spread to East Africa. The last epidemics in West Africa in the early 1980s were caused by clone IV-1. Surface antigens of clone IV-1 strains from West Africa and subgroup III strains from both pandemic waves were analyzed. Lipopolysaccharide was stable within clone IV-1 but variable in subgroup III. Pili from clone IV-1 possessed class I epitopes, while those from subgroup III also possessed class IIa epitopes. Certain class 5 protein variants were expressed by both bacterial clones, possibly reflecting either inheritance of primeval genes or horizontal transmission. Exposure of Gambians to clone IV-1 bacteria stimulated production of bactericidal antibodies cross-reactive with subgroup III bacteria in some individuals but of type-specific antibodies in others. Gambians without bactericidal antibodies usually became healthy carriers rather than developing meningococcal disease on exposure to virulent meningococci.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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