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1.  Comparative assessment of two commonly used commercial ELISA tests for the serological diagnosis of contagious agalactia of small ruminants caused by Mycoplasma agalactiae 
Contagious agalactia (CA) of sheep and goats caused by Mycoplasma agalactiae is a widely occurring economically important disease that is difficult to control. The ELISA is commonly used for the serological detection of CA but it has some limitations and the performance of the available tests have not been properly evaluated.
Two commercial ELISA kits are widely used, one involving a fusion protein as target antigen and the other a total antigen. The objectives were to compare these tests by evaluating:
i. Their diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, the relevance of the recommended cut-off points, the correlation between the two tests, and, the correlation between serology data and the milk shedding of M. agalatiae;
ii. The influence of extrinsic factors such as the targeted animal species, geographical origin of the samples, intra-specific variability of M. agalactiae and concurrent mycoplasma infections.
A sample of 5900 animals from 211 farms with continuous CA monitoring for 20 years and no prior vaccination history was used. The infection status was known from prior bacteriological, epidemiological and serological monitoring with a complementary immunoblotting test.
The average diagnostic sensitivity was 56% [51.8–59.8] for the fusion protein ELISA and 84% [81.3–87.2] for the total antigen ELISA, with noteworthy flock-related variations. The average diagnostic specificity for the fusion protein ELISA was 100% [99.9–100], and for the total antigen ELISA differed significantly between goats and sheep: 99.3% [97.4–99.9] and 95.7% [93.8–97.2] respectively.
Experimental inoculations with different M. agalactiae strains revealed that the ELISA kits poorly detected the antibody response to certain strains. Furthermore, test performances varied according to the host species or geographical origin of the samples.
Finally, the correlation between milk shedding of M. agalactiae and the presence of detectable antibodies in the blood was poor.
These serological tests are not interchangeable. The choice of a test will depend on the objectives (early detection of infection or disease control program), on the prevalence of infection and the control protocol used. Given the variety of factors that may influence performance, a preliminary assessment of the test in a given situation is recommended prior to widespread use.
PMCID: PMC3439703  PMID: 22776779
2.  Characterization of Free Exopolysaccharides Secreted by Mycoplasma mycoides Subsp. mycoides 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68373.
Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia is a severe respiratory disease of cattle that is caused by a bacterium of the Mycoplasma genus, namely Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides (Mmm). In the absence of classical virulence determinants, the pathogenicity of Mmm is thought to rely on intrinsic metabolic functions and specific components of the outer cell surface. One of these latter, the capsular polysaccharide galactan has been notably demonstrated to play a role in Mmm persistence and dissemination. The free exopolysaccharides (EPS), also produced by Mmm and shown to circulate in the blood stream of infected cattle, have received little attention so far. Indeed, their characterization has been hindered by the presence of polysaccharide contaminants in the complex mycoplasma culture medium. In this study, we developed a method to produce large quantities of EPS by transfer of mycoplasma cells from their complex broth to a chemically defined medium and subsequent purification. NMR analyses revealed that the purified, free EPS had an identical β(1−>6)-galactofuranosyl structure to that of capsular galactan. We then analyzed intraclonal Mmm variants that produce opaque/translucent colonies on agar. First, we demonstrated that colony opacity was related to the production of a capsule, as observed by electron microscopy. We then compared the EPS extracts and showed that the non-capsulated, translucent colony variants produced higher amounts of free EPS than the capsulated, opaque colony variants. This phenotypic variation was associated with an antigenic variation of a specific glucose phosphotransferase permease. Finally, we conducted in silico analyses of candidate polysaccharide biosynthetic pathways in order to decipher the potential link between glucose phosphotransferase permease activity and attachment/release of galactan. The co-existence of variants producing alternative forms of galactan (capsular versus free extracellular galactan) and associated with an antigenic switch constitutes a finely tuned mechanism that may be involved in virulence.
PMCID: PMC3711806  PMID: 23869216

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