Summary: Several monoclonal antibodies directed against gonococcal outer membrane protein IB have been used in assays to investigate their potential efficacy in protection against gonococcal infection. In a cytotoxicity assay, virulence of the variant P9-17 for epithelial cells in tissue culture was reduced in the presence of three of the four antibodies which recognized type-specific epitopes. Similarly, virulence of P9-17 as well as a recent isolate was reduced in the presence of the one antibody, SM24, which reacted with a conserved epitope. This antibody was also bactericidal in the presence of complement, and in addition was opsonic for several protein IB-expressing strains as determined by polymorphonuclear leucocyte chemiluminescence measurements. Similarly, all the type-specific antibodies were opsonic for P9 variants. However, only two of these antibodies mediated complement-dependent killing although those which were ineffective were nevertheless complement-fixing antibodies. These results indicate that antibodies to closely positioned epitopes on protein I vary in their biological activities and that the conserved epitope recognized by the antibody SM24 is potentially an effective target on the gonococcal surface for immunoprophylaxis.


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