Bovine trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease associated with reproductive failure. Systemic immunization results in protective IgG antibodies in uterine and vaginal secretions. Because bovine IgG2 is a better opsonin than IgG1, it is potentially important in defense. Yet, Tritrichomonas foetus extracellular cysteine proteinase (TFECP) cleaves bovine IgG2, evading protective IgG2 responses. Variations in resistance of the 2 IgG2 allotypes to digestion may explain inherited differences in protection. To address this hypothesis, TFECP was incubated with both IgG2 allotypes at different concentrations and times. The digestion products were separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, stained, and quantitated by image analysis. IgG2a was digested faster by TFECP than IgG2b. Differences in the sizes and numbers of digestion products were observed, but the presence of bands the size of Fc and Fd fragments indicated that both allotypes were cleaved at the hinge. Cysteine in the digestion mixture reduced the antibody molecules and increased the rate of digestion, but IgG2a was still more susceptible to cleavage than IgG2b in the absence of cysteine. Thus, not only reduced H chains can be cleaved by cysteine proteinase secreted by T. foetus but also intact functional antibody molecules. Because parasites may evade protective antibody responses by cleaving IgG2, animals with the more resistant IgG2b allotype may be better protected by immunization than animals with the more readily digested IgG2a allotype.
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