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Microbiol Immunol. 1998;42(7):503-8.

Effect of IgA1 protease on the ability of secretory IgA1 antibodies to inhibit the adherence of Streptococcus mutans.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


Secretory IgA (SIgA) is the principal immunoglobulin isotype present in the mucosal secretions of humans. SIgA is thought to play a major role in host defense at these surfaces by inhibiting the colonization of potentially pathogenic microorganisms. A number of bacteria that are mucosal pathogens of humans produce a protease that specifically cleaves the IgA1 subclass of humans and great apes at the hinge region to produce Fab and Fc fragments. In order to study the effect of IgA1 protease on the ability of SIgA1 antibodies to inhibit bacterial adherence, an in vitro assay that quantifies the adsorption of radiolabeled Streptococcus mutans to hydroxyapatite (HA) beads was employed. High titer S. mutans-specific SIgA1 and SIgA2 antibodies were induced in chimpanzee milk for use in the assay. Fab alpha1 fragments had significantly reduced ability to inhibit adherence of S. mutans to saliva-coated HA compared to intact SIgA1 or SIgA2 anti-S. mutans antibodies. These data support the potential importance of IgA1 proteases as an ecological determinant in the oral cavity and their role as a determinant of pathogenesis of pathogenic bacteria whose portal of entry is the mucosal surface.

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