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Three protein cocktails mediate delayed-type hypersensitivity responses indistinguishable from that elicited by purified protein derivative in the guinea pig model of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

  • Yang, Hongliang
  • Troudt, JoLynn
  • Grover, Ajay
  • Arnett, Kimberly
  • Lucas, Megan
  • Cho, Yun Sang
  • Bielefeldt-Ohmann, Helle
  • Taylor, Jennifer
  • Izzo, Angelo
  • Dobos, Karen M
Published Article
Infection and Immunity
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
February 2011
DOI: 10.1128/IAI.00486-10
PMID: 21134965


Purified protein derivative (PPD) is a widely used reagent for the diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Recently, the molecular composition of PPD was defined, with hundreds of mycobacterial protein representatives making up PPD. Which, if any, of these specific products drive the potency of PPD remains in question. In this study, two proteins (DnaK and GroEL2) previously identified as dominant proteins in PPD were tested for the capacity to induce delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses in H37Rv-infected or BCG-vaccinated guinea pigs. These two proteins were used in pull-down assays to identify interacting PPD products. Six proteins were identified as interacting partners with DnaK and GroEL2, i.e., Rv0009, Rv0475, Rv0569, Rv0685, Rv2626c, and Rv2632c. These six proteins were tested alone and in combination with DnaK and GroEL2 for the capacity to induce a DTH response in the guinea pig model. From these studies, two cocktails, DnaK/GroEL2/Rv0009 and DnaK/GroEL2/Rv0685, were found to induce DTH responses in H37Rv-infected or BCG-vaccinated guinea pigs that were indistinguishable from DTH responses driven by a PPD injection. The mechanism by which DTH responses were induced was elucidated by histologic examination, analysis of activated CD4(+)/CD8(+) T cells, and cytokine mRNA expression at the site of the DTH response. PPD and the protein cocktails tested induced strong DTH responses in H37Rv-infected guinea pigs. Ex vivo phenotyping of T cells at the DTH site indicated that this response is mediated by activated CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, with increases in gamma interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha, but not interleukin-10, at the site of the DTH response. Our results demonstrate for the first time that the PPD response can be mimicked at the molecular level with defined protein cocktails. The use of this defined product will allow a more thorough understanding of the DTH response and may provide a platform for more rapid and sensitive second-generation skin test reagents for the diagnosis of M. tuberculosis infection.

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