Protective monoclonal antibodies recognize heat-labile epitopes on surface proteins of spotted fever group Rickettsiae

H. Li, B. Benz, D. H. Walker

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59 Scopus citations


Thirty-eight monoclonal antibodies that have not been reported previously were developed from mice immunized with Rickettsia rickettsii, R. conorii, and R. sibirica. Western immunoblotting showed that these monoclonal antibodies are directed against heat-sensitive epitopes which are located on two major surface polypeptides with molecular sizes ranging from 115 to 150 kilodaltons. The detection of the two bands did not depend on the presence of 2-mercaptoethanol. Both bands were destroyed by treatment with proteinase K. Monoclonal antibodies examined by immunofluorescence assay reacted with epitopes that are species specific, group reactive, or shared among a smaller subset of species of spotted fever group rickettsiae. Nine of the monoclonal antibodies were evaluated for their ability to neutralize rickettsial infection and thus protect animals against disease caused by homologous species of rickettsiae. Treatment of rickettsiae with monoclonal antibodies F3-12, F3-14, and F-3-36 completely protected guinea pigs against illness caused by the homologous organism R. rickettsii. Monoclonal antibodies F9-5G11 and F15-5B12, derived from mice immunized with R. sibirica, conferred partial protection by delaying the onset and shortening the duration of fever in guinea pigs inoculated with R. sibirica. Monoclonal antibodies F2-15, F2-31, F2-53, and F3-12 protected mice from a lethal infection with R. conorii. Heat-labile epitopes of spotted fever group rickettsial surface proteins are important candidate antigens for development of vaccines to confer protective immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2587-2593
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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