The influence of fibrinogen on the opsonization of Group A streptococci by type-specific and cross-reactive anti-M protein antisera was investigated. As previously reported for type 24 streptococci, fibrinogen inhibited the complement-mediated opsonization of types 5, 6, and 19 organisms. Rabbit antisera against large peptide fragments of purified homologous M proteins (pep M proteins) overcame the anti-opsonic effect of fibrinogen in a dose-dependent manner. In the presence of optimal amounts of antibody, bacterial uptake by PMN was equal in serum and plasma, and greater than could be obtained in serum in the absence of antibody. Polyclonal anti-pep M sera contained antibodies directed against fibrinogen-binding as well as fibrinogen-nonbinding sites or regions of the M protein molecule. Three cross-reactive anti-pep M sera included antibodies directed against fibrinogen binding sites or regions of the cross-reacting M proteins. In the two sera studied in detail, these antibodies accounted for a large part of the cross-reacting anti-M antibody present in the sera. We suggest that fibrinogen binding sites on different serotypes of M protein may be structurally and therefore antigenically similar. Conservation of fibrinogen binding sites on M proteins may be related to their protective anti-opsonic function.

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