Meningococcal groups B and C have been subdivided into a series of serotypes based upon the antigenic specificity of protein serotype antigens (STA). The purpose of these studies was to obtain the STA by gentle methods and determine its anatomic location in the meningococcal cell. The STA was extracted from group B meningococcal strains by either 0.2 M LiCl or 0.2 M CaCl2 and isolated from the extracts by gel filtration on Sepharose 6B or by pelleting the STA by centrifugation at 100,000 g. The isolated STA was a lipoprotein-lipopolysaccharide complex with a mol wt of approximately 4 x 106 daltons. Antisera prepared against the type 2 STA were bactericidal only for homologous serotype strains. The STA proved to be a constituent of the outer membrane of the cell envelope. This was shown by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) of the isolated outer membrane and of the purified STA. The type 2 STA complex contains three principal proteins, one of which is predominant with a mol wt of 41,000 daltons. The type 2 STA was dissociated by Triton X-100 and separated by sucrose gradient isodensity centrifugation into two peaks. The denser peak (ρ = 1.26 g/cm3) contained the majority of the 41,000 dalton major outer membrane protein as shown by SDS-PAGE. This peak also contained the type 2 antigenic determinant. Thus the major outer membrane protein, extracted as part of a lipoprotein-lipopolysaccharide complex, contains the type 2 STA determinant.

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