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Mol Med. 1997 August; 3(8): 544–552.
PMCID: PMC2230180

Inhibitory effect of human natural yeast killer toxin-like candidacidal antibodies on Pneumocystis carinii.


BACKGROUND: Human natural antibodies have been found that owe their candidacidal action to the mimicry of a yeast killer toxin produced by the yeast Pichia anomala (PaKT). Candidacidal human natural antibodies (KTAb) are elicited by and bind to a KT receptor (PaKTR) present on the cell surface of infectious PaKT-sensitive microorganisms. Because of the recognized susceptibility of Pneumocystis carinii organisms to PaKT upon the occurrence of specific PaKTR, we examined whether human natural KTAb could also bind to and inhibit P. carinii. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Immunoaffinity-purified KTAb from the vaginal fluid of patients affected by candidiasis were tested and compared with PaKT for their ability to inhibit rat-derived P. carinii attachment to epithelial lung cells as well as infectivity to nude rats. Immunofluorescence studies were also performed by biotinylated PaKT in competition with human KTAb to establish their specific binding to PaKTR on the surface of rat-derived and human P. carinii organisms. RESULTS: Human natural candidacidal KTAb exerted a strong, specific inhibitory activity against rat-derived P. carinii organisms that are susceptible to PaKT itself. The antimicrobial activity of human KTAb was abolished by adsorption with a specific PaKT-neutralizing mAb KT4. Immunofluorescence studies of competition with PaKT showed that human KTAb efficiently bind to the specific PaKTR on the surface of rat-derived and human P. carinii organisms. CONCLUSIONS: The results strongly suggest that human KTAb, elicited by a common transphyletic receptor of different pathogenic microorganisms during infection, may play a role in antibody-mediated cross-immunity and, if properly engineered, as functionally equivalent recombinant antibodies they could exert a therapeutic activity against pneumocystosis in vivo.

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