Purified axial filaments from eight serotypes of and two non-pathogenic intestinal spirochaetes were characterized by SDS-PAGE and Western blotting. Axial filaments of all ten strains had similar SDS-PAGE profiles; five major axial filament polypeptides were identified, with molecular masses of 43·8, 38, 34·8, 32·8 and 29·4 kDa. Hyperimmune gnotobiotic pig serum raised against purified axial filaments of strain P18A (serotype 4) cross-reacted with all other serotypes and with the non-pathogens, and convalescent serum taken from a pig with persistent swine dysentery also showed a strong response to the axial filament polypeptides. Hyperimmune gnotobiotic pig serum raised against axial filaments failed to agglutinate viable organisms and did not inhibit growth . Hence the axial filaments of have been identified as major immunodominant antigens, although the role that antibodies to these antigens play in protection has yet to be established.


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