Antigenic Determinants of Alpha-Like Proteins of Streptococcus Agalactiae

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2004 Nov;11(6):1035-9. doi: 10.1128/CDLI.11.6.1035-1039.2004.


The majority of group B streptococcus (GBS) isolates express one or more of a family of surface-anchored proteins that vary by strain and that form ladder-like patterns on Western blotting due to large repeat units. These proteins, which are important as GBS serotype markers and as inducers of protective antibodies, include the alpha C (Calpha) and R4 proteins and the recently described alpha-like protein 2 (Alp2), encoded by alp2, and Alp3, encoded by alp3. In this study, we examined antigenic determinants possessed by Alp2 and Alp3 by testing of antibodies raised in rabbits, mainly by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) and an ELISA absorption test. The results showed that Alp2 and Alp3 shared an antigenic determinant, which may be a unique immunological marker of the Alp variants of GBS proteins. Alp2, in addition, possessed an antigenic determinant which showed specificity for Alp2 and a third determinant which showed serological cross-reactivity with Calpha. Alp3, in addition to the determinant common to Alp2 and Alp3, harbored an antigenic site which also was present in the R4 protein, whereas no Alp3-specific antigenic site was detected. These ELISA-based results were confirmed by Western blotting and a fluorescent-antibody test. The results are consistent with highly complex antigenic structures of the alpha-like proteins in a fashion which is in agreement with the recently described structural mosaicism of the alp2 and alp3 genes. The results are expected to influence GBS serotyping, immunoprotection studies, and GBS vaccine developments.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epitopes / genetics
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Serotyping
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / genetics
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / immunology*
  • Vaccines / genetics
  • Vaccines / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Epitopes
  • Vaccines
  • alpha-like protein 2, Streptococcus agalactiae
  • alpha-like protein 3, Streptococcus agalactiae
  • alpha C protein, group B streptococci