SUMMARY: Hybrid cell lines were derived which produced monoclonal antibodies directed against gonococcal outer membrane protein IA. One antibody, SM101, recognized 24 P.IA-expressing strains out of 25 tested - the rest exhibited relatively less cross-reactivity. Competitive radioimmunoassays revealed that each antibody could effectively inhibit binding of the others, suggesting close proximity of the epitopes recognized. The antibodies were used in assays to investigate their potential efficacy in protection against gonococcal infection. In a cytotoxicity assay, the antibodies afforded some protection to epithelial cells challenged with gonococci. They were very effective at bactericidal killing in the presence of complement and, in addition, were opsonic for homologous and heterologous strains. The cross-reacting antibody, SM101, was one of the most effective in both assays. The results show that the conserved epitope on P.IA recognized by antibody SM101 is potentially an effective target on the gonococcal surface for immunoprophylaxis.


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