Polyclonal rabbit anti-idiotypic (anti-Id) antibodies against two monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for the flagella of were produced, purified and characterised. Lack of cross-reactivity with heterologous MAbs indicated that the anti-Id antibodies were highly specific. The surface-exposed epitopes of the flagellar filament recognised with protective MAb were further distinguished by the anti-Id antibodies. Moreover, each anti-Id antibody inhibited the binding of its related MAb to flagellar antigens in a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, suggesting that the anti-Id antibodies bore an internal image of the flagellar antigens. The survival rate of mice was increased to nearly twice that of controls by immunisation with anti-Id 41, which had been produced with a protective MAb; in contrast, anti-Id 114, produced with a non-protective MAb, failed to immunise. The results suggest that an anti-Id antibody containing an internal image of flagella might be used as a vaccine.


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