A localization index for distinction between extracellular and intracellular antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

J Gen Microbiol. 1991 Apr;137(4):875-84. doi: 10.1099/00221287-137-4-875.


A series of mycobacterial antigens were quantified by immunoelectrophoresis, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, or SDS-PAGE with immunoblotting using antisera against purified mycobacterial antigens. The antigens showed a characteristic distribution profile. Some had a marked quantitative dominance in the culture fluid while others had a marked dominance in sonicates of whole washed bacilli. The majority of the antigens tested could thus be located and grouped as either secreted or cytoplasmic in terms of a localization index (LI) which is described. A 5-week-old Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture fluid preparation with a low degree of lysis was valuable in the delineation of localization indexes. The various secreted antigens showed a great span in LI values, from 5 to 1000. This variation may express different degrees of secretion efficiency or differences in tendency to adhere to the bacterial surface. The identification of proteins as extracellular or cytosolic according to their LI values was in agreement for cultures of M. tuberculosis with a low degree of lysis and cultures of M. bovis BCG and M. bovis AN-5 with significant lysis of the bacterial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Bacteriolysis
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoelectrophoresis
  • Kinetics
  • Mathematics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial