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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2006 Dec;48(3):329-36. Epub 2006 Oct 24.

Expression of mycobacterial cell division protein, FtsZ, and dormancy proteins, DevR and Acr, within lung granulomas throughout guinea pig infection.

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1
Department of Biotechnology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India.

Abstract

The ability of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to persist in a dormant state is a hallmark of tuberculosis. An insight into the expression of mycobacterial proteins will contribute to our understanding of bacterial physiology in vivo. To this end, the expression of FtsZ, Acr and DevR was assessed in the lung granulomas of guinea pigs infected with M. tuberculosis. Antigen immunostaining was then compared with the detection of acid-fast bacilli (AFB) and mycobacterial DNA. Surprisingly, immunostaining for all three antigens was observed throughout the course of infection; maximum expression of all antigens was noted at 20 weeks of infection. The intensity of immunostaining correlated well with the presence of intact bacteria, suggesting that mycobacterial antigens in the extracellular fraction have a short half-life; in contrast to protein, extracellular bacterial DNA was found to be more stable. Immunostaining for bacterial division and dormancy markers could not clearly distinguish between replicating and non-replicating organisms during the course of infection. The detection of Acr and DevR from 4 weeks onwards indicates that the dormancy proteins are expressed from early on in infection. Both antigen staining and DNA detection from intact bacilli were useful for detecting intact mycobacteria in the absence of AFB.

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