Thirteen hybrid cell lines which produce mouse monoclonal antibodies to Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis, have been established. All of the monoclonal antibodies react with T. pallidum, Nichols strain, in ELISA and in immunofluorescence assays, but do not react with normal rabbit testicular tissue in the ELISA. Two of these antibodies were demonstrated to react with the nonpathogenic treponemes T. phagedenis, biotype Reiter, T. refringens (Noguchi strain), T. vincentii, and T. denticola (strains 11 and W), as well as with Borrelia recurrentis, Leptospira interrogans, serogroup Canicola, and the swine pathogen T. hyodysenteriae. The remaining 11 antibodies react with four recently isolated strains of T. pallidum, but with none of the related nonpathogens nor with Borrelia or Leptospira. Thus, our results to date indicate that these monoclonal antibodies may identify antigenic determinants that are specific either for T. pallidum alone or for those treponemes which are pathogenic for humans. The molecular specificities of six of the 13 antibodies were determined by Western blotting. We anticipate potential usefulness of these antibodies in the investigation of the antigenic structure of T. pallidum, the taxonomic study of the pathogenic and nonpathogenic treponemes, and in the diagnosis of syphilis.

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