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J Submicrosc Cytol Pathol. 1997 Jan;29(1):85-90.

Subcellular localization of the 65-kDa heat shock protein in mycobacteria by immunoblotting and immunogold ultracytochemistry.

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Center for Experimental Cytology, University of Porto, Portugal.


The 65-kDa heat shock protein (hsp65) is an immunodominant antigen in mycobacterial infections and also the key etiologic factor in mycobacteria-induced autoimmune arthritis. Because the subcellular distribution of hsp65 in the mycobacteria may be relevant to understand its immunoreactivity, we have investigated the presence of hsp65 in the envelope and cytoplasmic compartments of the bacilli. Anti-hsp65 antibodies were used in western blottings to investigate the presence of hsp65 in cell fractions (membrane, envelope and cytosol) of Mycobacterium avium and M. smegmatis, and also to label hsp65 in situ by the immunogold method on thin-sectioned mycobacteria, including the non-cultivable M. leprae, that were studied by transmission electron microscopy. All of the three subcellular mycobacterial fractions showed significant labelling by anti-hsp65 antibodies. Immunogold ultracytochemistry revealed the presence of hsp65 in both the cytoplasm and the envelope of mycobacteria. The data indicate that hsp65 molecules are commonly present not only in the cytoplasm but also in the envelope of mycobacteria. The latter topography of hsp65 may contribute to the strong immunogenicity of hsp65 since it may correspond to export hsp65 molecules captured before being secreted into the extracellular milieu, thus making hsp65 a mycobacterial antigen readily available for presentation to the immune system of infected hosts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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