and , two members of the complex, contain five major glycolipids. A combination of NMR spectroscopy, fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry and chemical degradation was used to elucidate their structures. All the compounds belong to the family of glycopeptidolipids. A 6-deoxy-α--talosyl unit, which may bear one or two acetyl groups, invariably occupies the site of glycosylation on the threonine residue in the various compounds. A 3,4-di--methyl- or 2,3,4-tri--methyl-α--rhamnosyl unit modifies the alaninol end of the diglycosylated molecules. Both species also contain a multiglycosylated compound consisting of -α--rhamnosyl-(1 → 2)-3,4-di--methyl-α--rhamnosyl linked to alaninol, which belongs to the class of new variants of glycopeptidolipids recently described. Using an ELISA, the latter glycolipid as well as the diglycosylated ones (not previously reported to be antigenic), were shown to react with the serum raised against the whole lipid antigens of A comparative serologic study of the native and chemically modified glycopeptidolipid antigens allowed the identification of their epitope as the 3,4-di--methyl-α--rhamnosyl residue. Similar experiments conducted on the glycopeptidolipids isolated from the serologically cross-reacting species led to the conclusion that the epitope identified in and was involved in the cross-reactions and demonstrated the existence of a second haptenic moiety in the glycolipids of , the 3--methyl-α--rhamnosyl unit. In addition to this latter non-shared epitope, the recently described sulfated glycopeptidolipid antigen of did not react with the serum, thus further explaining the difference in the seroreactivity within the complex.


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