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Infect Immun. 1979 Aug;25(2):738-48.

Purification and characterization of the CFA/I antigen of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.


The fimbral colonization factor antigen CFA/I of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli was purified and characterized. The initial purification step was release of these fimbriae from the bacterial cells by homogenization with a Waring blender. Common fimbriae and flagellar antigen were avoided by careful control of growth conditions and the use of a nonmotile (H-) mutant of the prototype strain H-10407 (O78:H11). The essential purification steps were membrane filtration (Millipore Corp.), ammonium sulfate fractionation, and negative diethylaminoethyl-Sephadex column chromatography. Yields were approximately 4.0 mg of CFA/I protein per g (wet weight) of bacteria. Purified CFA/I is a fimbrial molecule 7.0 nm in diameter and has an average molecular weight of 1.6 X 10(6), as determined by sedimentation equilibrium. CFA/I is a polymer of identical subunits of molecular weight 23,800 with an N-terminal valine, 37% hydrophobic amino acid residues, and 11 residues of proline per mol. The purified antigen retains its morphology, antigenicity, and biological activity. Purified antigen retains its morphology, antigenicity, and biological activity. Purified CFA/I exhibits mannose-resistant hemagglutination of human group A, bovine, and chicken erythrocytes, as do CFA/I-positive bacteria. This was demonstrated by sensitizing latex microbeads with the purified antigen since cell-free CFA/I fimbriae do not hemagglutinate erythrocytes. Thus, CFA/I detached from the bacteria are monovalent; however, purified CFA/I antigen retains an affinity for the epithelial cells of rabbit small intestine and blocks adhesion of CFA/I-positive bacteria. These results demonstrate that purified CFA/I is a good candidate for use in an oral vaccine for immunoprotection against diarrhea caused by CFA/I-positive enterotoxigenic E. coli.

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