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Microb Pathog. 1996 Dec;21(6):471-86.

Isolation and characterization of a 70 kDa protein from Mycobacterium avium.

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Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, USA.


Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is an intracellular pathogen which causes disseminated bacterial infection in immunocompromised individuals. This organism predominantly infects macrophages. Attachment of MAC to macrophages is the first step prior to invasion. We have previously shown that a 70 kDa protein of M. avium (Ma) is one of nine monocyte-binding proteins. In the present study, we have purified this protein from sonic extracts of Ma and studied some of its properties. The N-terminal sequence of this protein was identified and found to exhibit a strong homology to the 70 kDa heat shock protein (hsp) of M. leprae (Ml) and M. tuberculosis (Mtb). This protein was found to be present on the surface of the organism and was able to inhibit the attachment of intact Ma to human monocyte derived macrophages (MDM) up to 49% in an in vitro attachment assay using intact fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labelled Ma. Bovine serum albumin (BSA) and recombinant 70 kDa hsp from Mtb, which were used as controls, inhibited this attachment by 9.8 and 18%, respectively. These results suggest that the 70 kDa protein may have a role in the attachment of intact Ma to MDM. When tested in lymphocyte activation assays, this protein did not appear to significantly stimulate proliferation. However, it was found to stimulate the production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha by MDM. This protein may be one of several Ma antigens that trigger host immune response by binding to MDM and stimulating the production of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha by these cells.

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