Particulate mucopeptides of Group A-variant streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus, solubilized by ultrasonic treatment, give a precipitin reaction with the sera of rabbits immunized with Group A-variant streptococci. γ-G globulin antibodies have been recovered from these sera which react with the mucopeptides but not with the Group A-variant carbohydrate.
The immunochemical basis for the cross-reactivity between the streptococcal and staphylococcal mucopeptides was investigated in detail. Three chemically different fractions have been isolated from enzymatic digests of staphylococcal mucopeptide and were employed as haptenic inhibitors of the precipitin reaction. A fraction consisting of the peptide moiety of mucopeptide was the strongest inhibitor, whereas the hexosamine-rich fraction was less effective. The third fraction, rich in glycine, was least effective.
It is suggested that the immunologic cross-reactivity between streptococcal and staphylococcal mucopeptide is due to the fact that these two substances contain chemically similar tetrapeptides. The hexosamine polymer which is identical for both mucopeptides may also contribute to their cross-reactivity.