Two murine monoclonal antibodies (JEL 92 and 93) specific for adjacent epitopes on F pilin were purified and characterized. JEL 93 immunoglobulin G (IgG) and its Fab fragments were specific for the amino-terminal region and were completely reactive with a synthetic peptide representing the first eight amino acids of F pilin. The acetyl group was demonstrated to be an important part of the epitope, since an unacetylated version of the amino-terminal peptide was 100-fold less reactive with JEL 93 IgG. JEL 92 IgG reacted with the region of F pilin surrounding Met-9, represented by a tryptic peptide derived from the first 17 amino acids. This reactivity was completely abolished by cleavage of the peptide with cyanogen bromide. As shown by electron microscopy, both monoclonal antibodies bound to a vesiclelike structure at one end of purified free pili and did not bind to the sides of the pili, nor did they appear to bind to the tip. When sonication was used to break pili into shorter fragments, the number of binding sites for JEL 92 but not JEL 93 IgG increased as measured by a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
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