Moraxella bovis pilus proteins, collected and purified from four strains of M. bovis, were cleaved with cyanogen bromide. Two major fragments were produced. Antisera were produced in rabbits to the pilin protein fragments and to whole uncleaved pili from these strains. Immunoblots of whole and cyanogen bromide-cleaved pilin were reacted with the homologous and heterologous antisera to whole pili and cleaved pilin. Antisera to whole pili reacted strongly with homologous pilin. Weaker and inconsistent reactions were detected with heterologous pilin. Antisera produced to cyanogen bromide-cleaved pilin proteins reacted strongly with homologous and heterologous pilin fragments and uncleaved pilin proteins. These findings demonstrate the presence of conserved antigenic determinants on pili from heterologous strains that are non-immunogenic in the intact pilus but are immunogenic after treatment with cyanogen bromide. Cyanogen bromide-treated pilus preparation might have potential as a vaccine because antibodies are induced against heterologous strains of M. bovis, whether these cross-reactive antibodies are protective remains to be determined.
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