Summary: The flagellar filaments of morphotype E isolates of characteristically possess an apparent helically arranged sheath structure, surrounding the central core of the filament. Reexamination of the type strains of H-serotypes belonging to morphotype E showed that all but serotype H34 possessed the expected morphology. Heterogeneity was observed in both the diameter of filaments from individual morphotype E strains and in the of individual flagellins. There was no apparent correlation between these two features. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) of the IgM class were raised against serotype H12 flagella. In Western immunoblotting and agglutination tests, the MAbs recognized the H12 antigen of six isolates with different 0:K antigen combinations. The MAbs were H-serotype-specific, with no significant reaction with the H-antigens of other morphotype E strains. The location of the serotype-specific H12 epitope(s) was studied by immunolabelling with colloidal gold markers. The epitope was surface-exposed and appeared to be helically arranged on the flagellar filament. The pattern of colloidal gold labelling was consistent with the possibility that the H12 serotype-specific epitope resides in the apparent sheath structure.


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