Molecular cloning and characterization of the 15-kilodalton major immunogen of Treponema pallidum

B. K. Purcell, N. R. Chamberlain, M. S. Goldberg, L. P. Andrews, E. J. Robinson, M. V. Norgard, J. D. Radolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Pathogen-specific membrane immunogens of Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum (T. pallidum) have been identified previously by phase partitioning with the nonionic detergent Triton X-114. One of these antigens, a 15-kilodalton (kDa) polypeptide, is expressed in relatively small quantities in T. pallidum but is highly immunogenic in both human and experimental syphilis. The native T. pallidum antigen was purified to homogeneity from the mixture of Triton X-114 detergent-phase proteins by chromatofocusing. Recombinant Escherichia coli clones were selected from a T. pallidum genomic DNA library by using monoclonal antibodies specific to the 15-kDa antigen; immunoblotting and minicell analyses confirmed expression of the 15-kDa protein in the transformants. Southern hybridization with a 1.1-kilobase fragment of DNA encoding the 15-kDa-antigen gene indicated that the gene is probably present in a single copy within the genomes of both T. pallidum and T. pallidum subsp. pertenue (the agent of yaws), while it is absent from the genome of the nonpathogenic Treponema phagedenis biotype Reiter. Cell fractionation studies with Triton X-114 demonstrated that the recombinant polypeptide possesses hydrophobic properties similar to those of the native antigen and localized the cloned 15-kDa antigen to the inner membrane of E. coli. Protein processing experiments in minicells revealed that a precursor appears to be processed to the mature 15-kDa polypeptide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3708-3714
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular cloning and characterization of the 15-kilodalton major immunogen of Treponema pallidum'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this