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Eur J Immunol. 1991 Oct;21(10):2297-302.

Mycobacterial heat-shock proteins as carrier molecules.

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World Health Organization-Immunology Research and Training Center, Department of Pathology, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


We have previously shown that the priming of mice with live Mycobacterium tuberculosis var. bovis (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, BCG) and immunization with the repetitive malaria synthetic peptide (NANP)40 conjugated to purified protein derivative (PPD), led to the induction of high and long-lasting titers of anti-peptide IgG antibodies, overcoming the requirement of adjuvants and the genetic restriction of the antibody response to the peptide (Lussow et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 1990. 87:2960). This initial work led us to the following observations. BCG had to be live for priming to lead to the induction of anti-peptide antibodies. Surprisingly, priming with other living microorganisms which chronically infect the macrophage (e.g. Salmonella typhimurium and Leishmania major) also induced anti-peptide antibodies in mice immunized with PPD-(NANP)40 conjugate. It was, thus, hypothesized that molecules expressed during active infection and also known to be highly conserved between species, namely the heat-shock proteins (hsp), could mediate the T cell sensitization required for the production of anti-peptide antibodies. In fact, when the PPD protion of the conjugate was replaced by a highly purified recombinant protein corresponding to the 65-kDa (GroEL-type) hsp of M. bovis, this resulted in the production of anti-(NANP) IgG antibodies in BCG-primed mice, irrespective of the major histocompatibility complex-controlled responsiveness to the (NANP) sequence itself. Further, similar induction of anti-peptide antibody response was also obtained with a recombinant 70-kDa (DnaK-type) hsp of M. tuberculosis, but not with a small molecular mass (18 kDa) of M. leprae. Finally, an adjuvant-free carrier effect for anti-peptide IgG antibody production in BCG-primed mice, was also exerted by the GroEL hsp of Escherichia coli. This finding that hsp can act as carrier molecules without requiring conventional adjuvants is of potential importance in the development of vaccine strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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