NYMC Faculty Publications


Modulation of Expression of Delayed Hypersensitivity by Mycobacterial Antigen 85 Fibronectin-binding Proteins

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June 1992




Although demonstration of delayed hypersensitivity to purified protein derivative of tuberculin (PPD) is an important element in the diagnosis of infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, many patients with tuberculosis are anergic. Several possible mechanisms for this specific lack of response have been described. We have now uncovered an additional one. T-cell fibronectin (FN), a lymphokine secreted by activated T cells, is closely associated with the initiation of delayed hypersensitivity reactions. Mycobacterial antigen 85 (Ag85) proteins have been shown to bind to plasma FN. The ability of Ag85 to bind to T-cell FN and modulate expression of delayed hypersensitivity was therefore studied. Purified Ag85 proteins from M. tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis BCG, or Mycobacterium kansasii bound to T-cell FN, fibroblast FN, and plasma FN in vitro. Purified 65-kDa heat shock protein (hsp65) from M. bovis BCG did not bind to any FN. Ag85, but not hsp65, inhibited the ability of T-cell FN to agglutinate monocytes in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. In vivo, mixtures of PPD or dinitrophenyl-ovalbumin and purified M. tuberculosis or M. bovis BCG Ag85 proteins elicited significantly smaller delayed hypersensitivity inflammatory reactions in sensitized guinea pigs than did PPD or dinitrophenyl-ovalbumin alone. Purified hsp65 did not inhibit expression of delayed hypersensitivity to PPD or dinitrophenyl-ovalbumin. We suggest that Ag85 proteins could inhibit in vivo expression of delayed hypersensitivity during mycobacterial infections because of their interaction with T-cell FN.

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