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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 1993 Oct;8(5):259-65.

K-antigens in Porphyromonas gingivalis are associated with virulence.

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Department of Oral Microbiology, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), The Netherlands.


We investigated antigens in spreading and non-spreading Porphyromonas gingivalis strains. On the basis of differences in virulence in the mouse model, 8 strains were selected for antiserum production in rabbits. Hyperimmune sera were tested by double immunoprecipitation and immunoelectrophoresis. Besides a common antigen, differences in antigenic composition were observed in the thermolabile antigens between all strains tested. Two different heat-stable antigens were found after heating at 120 degrees C. One such antigen was detected after sonication of the pellet fraction of autoclaved P. gingivalis cells. This antigen cross-reacted with 6 of the 8 immune sera. This somatic antigen was almost neutrally charged and sensitive to sodium periodate treatment, suggestive of lipopolysaccharide. A second heat-stable antigen was detected in the supernatant of autoclaved strains of W83, W50, HG184 and A7A1-28. These non-somatic antigens were strain-specific, i.e., no cross-reactivity was found with heterologous hyperimmune sera. An exception was strain W50, which had a non-somatic heat-stable antigen which was recognized by W83 antiserum. These antigens were resistant to DNAse, RNAse and proteinase-K treatment but were degraded by sodium periodate. In immunoelectrophoresis, these antigens appeared to be negatively charged. These properties are characteristics of a K-antigen, which likely represent a thermostable carbohydrate capsule. The presence of K-antigen correlates very well with the serum resistance, the low chemiluminescence, the resistance to phagocytosis and the need for opsonization with specific antibodies for complement-mediated killing of virulent P. gingivalis strains.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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