chapter  3
92 Pages

Immunology of the Bacterial Membrane

WithPeter Owen*

The origins of modern immunochemistry can be traced back to 1929 and to the pioneering studies of Michael Heidelberger and his colleagues. By applying the precise methods of quantitative analytical chemistry to the measurement of antigens and antibodies, Heidelberger and Kendall established that precipitation of an antigen by its corresponding antibody could be treated as an ordinary chemical reaction, albeit a somewhat complex one. As a consequence, detailed immunochemical analysis of bacterial plasma membranes and their components has had to await the introduction of techniques designed to remove or dissolve the rigid cell wall of Gram-positive bacteria, and, in the case of Gram-negative microorganisms, the introduction of methods that allow separation of the inner and outer membrane systems. Antibody production is not a precise science. Consequently, the remarks here will be limited to a few general comments. The host animals used most frequently are the rabbit and goat, and both appear to give good antibody titers against bacterial membrane components.