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Infect Immun. 2009 Aug;77(8):3389-401. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00143-09. Epub 2009 May 26.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis Cpn60.2 and DnaK are located on the bacterial surface, where Cpn60.2 facilitates efficient bacterial association with macrophages.

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Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, initially contacts host cells with elements of its outer cell wall, or capsule. We have shown that capsular material from the surface of M. tuberculosis competitively inhibits the nonopsonic binding of whole M. tuberculosis bacilli to macrophages in a dose-dependent manner that is not acting through a global inhibition of macrophage binding. We have further demonstrated that isolated M. tuberculosis capsular proteins mediate a major part of this inhibition. Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis of the capsular proteins showed the presence of a wide variety of protein species, including proportionately high levels of the Cpn60.2 (Hsp65, GroEL2) and DnaK (Hsp70) molecular chaperones. Both of these proteins were subsequently detected on the bacterial surface. To determine whether these molecular chaperones play a role in bacterial binding, recombinant Cpn60.2 and DnaK were tested for their ability to inhibit the association of M. tuberculosis bacilli with macrophages. We found that recombinant Cpn60.2 can inhibit approximately 57% of bacterial association with macrophages, while DnaK was not inhibitory at comparable concentrations. Additionally, when polyclonal F(ab')(2) fragments of anti-Cpn60.2 and anti-DnaK were used to mask the surface presentation of these molecular chaperones, a binding reduction of approximately 34% was seen for anti-Cpn60.2 F(ab')(2), while anti-DnaK F(ab')(2) did not significantly reduce bacterial association with macrophages. Thus, our findings suggest that while M. tuberculosis displays both surface-associated Cpn60.2 and DnaK, only Cpn60.2 demonstrates adhesin functionality with regard to macrophage interaction.

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