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Use of recombinant antigens expressed in Escherichia coli K-12 to map B-cell and T-cell epitopes on the immunodominant 65-kilodalton protein of Mycobacterium bovis BCG.


In gene libraries of Mycobacterium bovis BCG, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Mycobacterium leprae, recombinants were frequently encountered that expressed an immunodominant 65-kilodalton (kDa) protein antigen that was shown to react with a high proportion of mycobacterium-reactive human and murine T cells and murine monoclonal antibodies. In this study, recombinant antigens were used to map T-cell and B-cell epitopes on the M. bovis BCG 65-kDa protein that was previously designated MbaA. Four different T-cell-epitope-containing regions (amino acid residues 1 through 16, 17 through 61, 85 through 108, and 235 through 279) were defined that were recognized by seven T-cell clones from patients with tuberculoid leprosy. These regions are distinct from two previously described T-cell epitopes recognized by T cells from a tuberculosis patient. As T-cell clones restricted by different class II determinants were shown to be specific for different regions on the 65-kDa protein, the presented data suggested that the products of different human leukocyte antigen class II loci and alleles present different parts of MbaA to the immune system. B-cell epitopes recognized by 20 monoclonal antibodies were assigned to eight different regions of MbaA. Using 15 of these antibodies, we previously showed that MbaA was antigenically related to a common antigen present in many bacterial species. The dispersed localization of the involved epitopes defined here shows that various different parts of MbaA are indeed conserved. These results show that well-defined recombinant antigens are useful tools for the localization of both B- and T-cell-epitope-containing regions of a protein. Peptides synthesized from the sequences of such regions may then exactly define the epitopes relevant for the development of specific diagnostic tests or of vaccines against mycobacteria.

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Journal Article
Thole J E
Schooten W C
Keulen W J
Hermans P W
Janson A A
Vries R R
Kolk A H
Embden J D

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