A bacterial substance has been described which gives a precipitin reaction with certain antisera to Group A streptococci. The precipitating antigen is present in various Gram-positive bacteria, including most hemolytic streptococci, staphylococci, and aerobic sporulating bacilli. It is not present in any of the Gram-negative species examined or in pneumococci, clostridia, or corynebacteria.
Analysis of purified preparations obtained from Group A streptococci indicates that the antigen is a simple polymer of glycerophosphate. The identification has been confirmed by immunochemical studies, including precipitin tests and specific inhibition with synthetic polyglycerophosphates. In addition, the infrared spectra of bacterial and synthetic polyglycerophosphate are shown to be closely similar. Immunochemical analysis suggests that the amount of polyglycerophosphate present in Group A streptococci and staphylococci is approximately 1 per cent of the dry weight of the cells. The cellular localization and function of the polyglycerophosphate have not been established.