Summary: We screened 63 clinical isolates of from eight different laboratories for the presence of fimbriae by negative staining and by immunological methods. Techniques used were bacterial agglutination, Ouchterlony immunodiffusion and Western immunoblotting analysis using rabbit anti-fimbriae and anti-fimbrilin sera raised against fimbriae and fimbrilin (a constituent protein of fimbriae) from strain 381. In 49 of the 51 strains tested, fimbriae were clearly detected by negative staining, and 30 (60%) of the fimbriate strains were positive in all three of the immunological assays. A total of 37 strains (75%) were positive by immunoblotting analysis, which was the most reliable of the serological methods used in this study. The study shows that the majority of strains are fimbriate, and that these fimbriae are immunologically related to the fimbriae of strain 381. Molecular heterogeneity of fimbrilin was discovered by the immunoblotting analysis, when different strains were compared. With most of the strains, including strain 381, the antifimbrilin serum reacted with a protein of apparent molecular mass 43 kDa, but with 15 strains the immuno-reactive protein had an apparent molecular mass of 46 kDa.


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