The protein B of group B streptococci can bind in a nonimmune reaction to Ig of the IgG and IgM classes of various mammalian species (i.e., human, mouse, rabbit, and bovine). Protein B binding involves the Fc parts of both IgG and IgM molecules. Monoclonal or polyclonal IgG or IgM and the IgM-FC5 mu fragment of human myeloma protein combined with the protein B thereby inhibiting protein B-induced hemolysis in the CAMP reaction. The protein B/Ig complex can be dissociated with 1% Triton or guanidine-HCl (6 M). Mice infected intraperitoneally with sublethal doses of group B streptococci (GBS) and that received seven repeated intravenous injections of highly purified protein B during the first 9 h of infection developed fatal septicemia within 24 h with colony counts of up to 10(8) CFU/ml in the blood. Animals treated in the same way with either PBS or trypsinized protein B recovered. The protein B itself was not pathogenic when injected into healthy mice. Tissue sections of liver or spleen from mice infected with a lethal dose of GBS revealed the presence of protein B together with large numbers of cocci when stained by the peroxidase method using specific antibodies raised against purified protein B in the rabbit.

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