1887

Abstract

The significance of as an agent of bioterrorism has been well established. An understanding of both the pathogenesis and the host response is required to elucidate approaches to more rapidly detect and effectively prevent or treat anthrax. Current vaccine strategies are focused primarily on production of antibodies against the protective antigen components of the anthrax toxins, which are secreted by the bacilli. A better understanding of the dynamic morphology of the dormant and germinating spore and its interaction with the host immune system could be important in developing an optimally efficacious anthrax vaccine. A spore-associated protein was identified that was specific to the group of bacteria and referred to as spore opsonization-associated antigen A (SoaA). Immuno-electron microscopy localized this protein to the area of the cortex beneath the coat of the dormant spore. Although our data suggested that SoaA was found below the coat layers of the ungerminated spore, SoaA was involved in the interaction of spores with macrophages shortly after infection. To investigate further the specific properties of the SoaA protein, the gene was inactivated in the Ames strain. The SoaA protein in the Ames strain of increased the phagocytic uptake of the spores in the presence of anti-spore antibodies. Unlike the wild-type strain, the mutant  : : Kan strain was not readily opsonized by anti-spore antibodies. While the mutant spores retained characteristic resistance properties and virulence , the  : : Kan mutant strain was significantly less suited for survival when competed against the wild-type Ames strain.

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