Summary: Antiserum specific for the enterobacterial “common antigen” (ECA) was obtained by absorbing a rabbit ECA antiserum with an ECA-negative mutant. Accessibility of ECA to antibodies in encapsulated and non-capsulated S and R forms derived from O8: K27 was studied using the indirect immunoferritin technique (whole-mount electron microscopy). The number of ferritin particles on the bacterial surface decreased in the order, non-capsulated R > encapsulated R > non-capsulated S > encapsulated S form, indicating that both the O and K antigens partly cover ECA on the surface of the outer membrane. Whole-mount and thin-section electron microscopy showed that ferritin was evenly distributed on the surface of R mutants, whereas it formed clusters on the S forms.


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