Several strains were examined for their ability to produce extracellular enzymes that cleave immunoglobulin A and G (Ig A and Ig G) molecules. Two strains isolated from human pulmonary and genital infections produced proteases that cleaved human IgA and IgG, colostral IgA and human myeloma IgA1 and IgA2. Human IgM was not degraded by these enzymes. Examination of cleavage digests showed two main fragments with different electrophoretic mobilities. The two strains produced a protease that cleaved IgA and IgG heavy chains outside the hinge region, and differed in this respect from the hinge-cutting proteases of other bacteria. Protease production may be a virulence mechanism for strains.


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