The application of proteomics in defining the T cell antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Proteomics. 2001 Apr;1(4):574-86. doi: 10.1002/1615-9861(200104)1:4<574::AID-PROT574>3.0.CO;2-8.


The complete sequencing of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome offers a unique opportunity to fully elucidate the biology of this human pathogen. One aspect of significant importance is the definition of T cell antigens. This report describes the development and implementation of a proteomic approach to defining such antigens. Large quantities of subcellular protein fractions of M. tuberculosis were resolved by two-dimensional liquid phase electrophoresis (2-D LPE), resulting in 355 and 299 fractions of culture filtrate and cytosolic proteins, respectively. Analysis of these fractions against splenocytes of C57Bl/6 mice infected with M. tuberculosis resulted in the identification of 37 fractions that stimulated a dominant T cell response, as measured by the production of interferon-gamma. Additionally, when the 2-D LPE fractions were assayed against splenocytes harvested at 10 and 40 days post infection significant changes in the T cell response were observed. Molecular characterization of the proteins contained in each of the 38 immunodominant fractions by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry resulted in the identification of 30 individual proteins. Many of these represented previously defined antigens. However 17 of these proteins were novel T cell antigens. The data presented demonstrate that proteomics offers a rapid and facile approach for elucidation of immunodominant T cell antigens of pathogenic bacteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Antigens, Bacterial / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity
  • Proteome* / genetics
  • Proteome* / immunology
  • Proteome* / isolation & purification
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Proteome
  • Interferon-gamma