Identification of Strain-Specific and Group-Reactive Antigenic Determinants on the Karp, Gilliam and Kato Strains of Rickettsia Tsutsugamushi

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  • Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Naval Medical Research and Development Command, Washington, DC 20307-5100

Hybridoma antibodies (Hab) were prepared against the Karp, Gilliam and Kato strains of Rickettsia tsutsugamushi and were examined for homologous and heterologous reactivity using an indirect immunofluorescence assay. Strain-specific Hab demonstrated homologous IFA titers ranging from 1/320 to 1/1,280 and did not react (<1/10) with the heterologous strains. The cross-reactive Hab generally reacted equally with all three strains in the scrub typhus group; however, there were some Hab that reacted with only one of the two heterologous strains tested. The Hab also were examined in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays with scrub typhus antigens eluted from SDS-polyacrylamide gels. Most Hab reacted with either one or several of the six eluted antigens detected with a polyclonal immune serum. It was also observed that strain-specific and cross-reactive Hab sometimes reacted with the same antigen, suggesting the existence of multiple antigenic determinants in one electrophoretic peak. The data suggest that strain-specific Hab can be used in the indirect immunofluorescence assay to identify isolates of R. tsutsugamushi without the cross-reactions usually observed with polyclonal antisera, and that they are useful probes for detection and analysis of rickettsial antigens.