Antigenic and functional characterization of p57 produced by Renibacterium salmoninarum.
R. salmoninarum produces large quantities of a 57-58 kDa protein (p57) during growth in broth culture and during infection of salmonid fish. Biological activities of secreted p57 include agglutination of salmonid leukocytes and rabbit erythrocytes. The location of epitopes on p57 recognized by agglutination-blocking monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) 4C11, 4H8 and 4D3 were defined. The 3 MAbs bound a recombinant, amino-terminal fragment of p57 (211 aa) but not a carboxy-terminal fragment (315 aa), demonstrating that the neutralizing epitopes are located within the amino-terminal portion of p57. When combinations of the MAbs were used in an antigen capture ELISA, the epitopes recognized by the 3 MAbs were shown to be sterically separate. However, when the same MAb was used as both the coating and detection MAb, binding of the biotinylated detection MAb was not observed. It is suggested that the epitopes recognized by the 3 agglutination-blocking antibodies are functionally available only once per molecule and that native p57 exists as a monomer. Similar ELISA results were obtained when kidney tissues from 3 naturally infected chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) were assayed. A p57 monomer was purified using anion exchange and size exclusion chromatography that retained in vitro agglutinating activity. A model in which p57 is released from R. salmoninarum as a biologically active monomer during infection of salmonid fish is proposed.