Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 90, Issue 1, pp 93–108 | Cite as

The production of a new extracellular putative long-chain saturated polyester by smooth variants of Mycobacterium vaccae interferes with Th1-cytokine production

  • Elisabeth Rodríguez-Güell
  • Gemma Agustí
  • Mercè Corominas
  • Pere-Joan Cardona
  • Isidre Casals
  • Teodor Parella
  • Marco-Antonio Sempere
  • Marina Luquin
  • Esther Julián


Mycobacterium vaccae is of major pharmaceutical interest as an immunotherapeutic agent. Although M. vaccae 15483 ATCCT strain displays smooth and rough colonial morphologies on solid culture media, it is not known in which conditions M. vaccae switches from one colonial morphotype to the other or whether there are biological differences, especially immunological, between them. We have found that the change from a smooth to rough stable variant occurs spontaneously at 30 °C. The analysis of the composition of the cell wall in both variants showed that the smooth morphotype presents an extracellular material that has never previously been described and was identified as a long-chain saturated polyester that, interestingly, is not produced by the rough morphotype. Our results also indicate that this compound could be implicated in the spreading ability of smooth colonies. Proliferation, IFN-\(\upgamma\) and IL-12(p40) production by splenocyte cultures was significantly higher in mice immunised with the rough variant compared with those immunised with the smooth one. This latter finding suggests that the different colonial morphology of M. vaccae may affect the immunomodulatory effects induced from M. vaccae preparations.


Colony morphology Exopolymer IFN-\(\upgamma\) Long-chain saturated polyester Mycobacterium vaccae 



enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


gas chromatography-mass spectrometry


heat-killed rough


heat-killed smooth


high performance liquid chromatography




bipolar-gradient LED


nuclear magnetic resonance


pulsed field-gradient spin-echo


red compound


scanning electron microscopy


thin layer chromatography


2,3,5-triphenyl tetrazole


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This work was supported by the Ministerio de Educación y Cultura (PM98-0180), Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (SAF2002-00514), the Generalitat de Catalunya (2002SGR-00099) and the Fundación Ma Francisca de Roviralta. Esther Julián was recipient of a ‘Beca de Apoyo a la Investigación’ by the Sociedad Española de Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica.

The authors wish to thank Mercè Martí of the Servei de Microscopia (UAB) for their help in microscopic analysis, and the staff of the Servei d’Immunologia (Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge).

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Rodríguez-Güell
    • 1
  • Gemma Agustí
    • 1
  • Mercè Corominas
    • 2
  • Pere-Joan Cardona
    • 3
  • Isidre Casals
    • 4
  • Teodor Parella
    • 5
  • Marco-Antonio Sempere
    • 6
  • Marina Luquin
    • 1
  • Esther Julián
    • 1
  1. 1.Departament de Genètica i de Microbiologia, Facultat de CiènciesUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  2. 2.Servei d’Immunologia-Al·lèrgiaHospital Universitari de Bellvitge L’Hospitalet de LlobregatSpain
  3. 3.Unitat de Tuberculosi ExperimentalFundació Institut per a la Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias i PujolBadalonaSpain
  4. 4.Serveis CientificotècnicsUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Servei de Ressonància Magnètica NuclearUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  6. 6.Hospital Costa del SolMarbellaSpain

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