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Peptide mapping by limited proteolysis of a highly protective 71-kDa cell wall-associated protein of Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Ra was carried out in order to identify key protective determinants within the native protein. The 71-kDa protein, which had an isoelectric point of 4.25, was digested into eight major bands at 48 h using trypsin and pepsin at equal enzyme to protein ratios (pH 5.5). The in vitro lymphocyte reactivity of individual peptides suggested P1, P2 and P5 to be significantly immunoreactive in mice immunized with native 71-kDa-polylactide-coglyeolide (PLG); however, the reactivity was significantly lower than that of the native 71-kDa protein. Immunization of mice with a pooled fraction (upper fraction-71 kDa) of more immunoreactive peptides (consisting of P1 and P2) did not further boost their immunoreactivity. However, P1 and P2 exhibited comparable or even higher lymphocyte proliferation in human tuberculous and control subjects. These data suggest distinct antigenic specificities in humans and mice and further substantiate the use of the 71-kDa protein or its peptides P1 and P2 as potential vaccine candidates for tuberculosis.