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Clin Exp Immunol. 1994 Nov;98(2):224-8.

Specificity of antibodies induced after immunization of mice with the mycobacterial heat shock protein of 65 kD.

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Department of Pathology, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


We have previously shown in mice and monkeys that mycobacterial heat shock proteins (hsp) of 65 and 70 kD exert a strong in vivo helper effect when conjugated to synthetic peptides or bacterial oligosaccharides and given in the absence of any adjuvants. Considering the degree of homology existing in the phylogeny among hsp belonging to the same family, we studied whether antibodies induced in mice with this protocol of immunization with the mycobacterial 65-kD hsp (hsp65) would cross-react, and to what extent, with hsp homologues from other origins, notably with the Escherichia coli GroEL protein and with the human homologue (hsp60). The results obtained show that antibodies to the mycobacterial hsp65 cross-reacted with the E. coli GroEL protein, both in ELISA and Western blot experiments, but not with the human hsp60. In competitive ELISA experiments, the binding of these antibodies to solid-phase hsp65 was very effectively inhibited by low concentrations of the mycobacterial hsp65; however, for human hsp60, 100 times higher concentrations were required in order to obtain similar patterns of inhibition. Finally, murine antibodies to the mycobacterial hsp65 always failed to give positive results in Western blot experiments using extracts of murine cells. Taken together, these data suggest that, after immunization of mice with the mycobacterial hsp65 conjugated to peptides or oligosaccharides in the absence of adjuvants, anti-hsp65 antibodies are induced which cross-react well with hsp homologues from other prokaryotes (e.g. E. coli GroEL), but which weakly bind the human hsp homologue. These results may have implications for the potential use of microbial hsp molecules in the design of conjugated vaccine constructs.

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