Outer membrane (OM) antigens of several oral treponemes were studied. SDS-PAGE revealed a 56–58-kDa protein as a major component of isolated OM vesicles. Immunoblot analysis with eluted antibodies prepared from ATCC 33520 recognised the 56–58-kDa protein, which was highly conserved in the 17 strains tested. The protein was also a component of a desoxycholate-extractable, ethanol-soluble antigen (DES-Ag) but was not present in or ATCC 35580 and strain N9 whole-cell lysates. Electronmicroscopy of OM vesicles showed typical treponemal ultrastructure. Immunogold labelling of ATCC 33520 with ATCC 33520-specific eluted antibodies recognised only the OM surface of the cell. These results suggest that the 56–58-kDa antigen comprises surface-orientated epitopes and that this antigen may be specific for .


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