Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 8423100
Infect. Immun. 1993 Feb;61(2):742-50
Increased protection against a virulent challenge with Mycobacterium tuberculosis is induced mainly by a previous immunization with living avirulent mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium bovis BCG. Only a transient and marginal protection is obtained after immunization with bacterial extracts or dead bacteria. Both living and heat-killed bacteria share a number of common antigens. In order to identify mycobacterial molecules which are dominant antigens during immunization with living bacteria, a two-step selection method was used. Two groups of guinea pigs were immunized either with living or with heat-killed BCG. Sera were then collected and used to select and counterselect antigens present in BCG culture filtrates. Each major fraction eluted from a series of high-pressure liquid chromatography columns (gel filtration, DEAE, and reverse-phase chromatography) was run on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and transferred on polyvinylidene difluoride sheets. The molecules present on twin immunoblots were stained with antibodies raised in guinea pigs immunized either with living or with heat-killed BCG. Cross-reactive antigens stained in twin immunoblots were eliminated. Major antigens interacting with antibodies raised after immunization only with living bacteria were further purified. A complex of 45- and 47-kDa major molecules (45/47-kDa complex) was thus identified and further purified. The complex was found to interact only with antibodies present in sera of guinea pigs immunized with living bacteria and not at all with antibodies raised after immunization with dead bacteria. The 45/47-kDa antigen complex molecules were resolved on two-dimensional electrophoresis in three major and seven minor proteins detected with silver staining. All the molecules interacted with the antibodies present in sera of guinea pigs immunized with living BCG. The three major proteins (two at 47 kDa and one at 45 kDa) were amino-terminal sequenced. The sequence A-P-E-P-A-P-P-V-P-P-A-A-A-A-P-P-A, which was not previously reported, was the same for these three molecules. By using a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, the concentrations of the 45/47-kDa antigen complex were measured in BCG culture filtrates, freeze-dried BCG, and dried heat-killed BCG; they were, respectively, 2, 0.01, and 0.001% of the total mass. The low or very low values compared with the high antibody concentration emphasized the ability of the 45/47-kDa complex delivered through live BCG to trigger an antibody response.