Gonococci were labelled with I using the lactoperoxidase system. The amount of label incorporated was similar with all strains including those which appeared capsulated. Electrophoresis on sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gels revealed that the major proteins labelled were those found in outer membrane preparations. Comparison of variants of one strain showed that the major outer membrane protein (protein I) was always present and heavily labelled. The second major protein (protein II) was present in variable amounts but labelling was proportional to the amount present. A third protein (III) was only present in outer membranes from a freshly isolated variant but was present in whole cells of each strain. Protein III was not labelled in whole cells but was labelled in outer membrane preparations suggesting that many membranes have their inner surface exposed. The labelling of a strain adapted to growth in guinea-pig chambers failed to reveal any new major surface proteins. The results demonstrate the variation in surface topography possible with variants of one strain of gonococcus but show that one major protein antigen is always expressed on the surface.


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