Characterization of strain-specific Bacillus cereus swimming motility and flagella by means of specific antibodies
One of the multiple factors determining the onset of the diarrhoeal disease caused by enteropathogenic Bacillus cereus is the ability of the bacteria to actively move towards the site of infection. This ability depends on flagella, but it also varies widely between different strains. To gain more insights into these strain-specific variations, polyclonal rabbit antisera as well as monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were generated in this study, which detected recombinant and natural B. cereus flagellin proteins in Western blots as well as in enzyme immunoassays (EIAs). Based on mAb 1A11 and HRP-labelled rabbit serum, a highly specific sandwich EIA was developed. Overall, it could be shown that strain-specific swimming motility correlates with the presence of flagella/flagellin titres obtained in EIAs. Interestingly, mAb 1A11, recognizing an epitope in the N-terminal region of the flagellin protein, proved to inhibit bacterial swimming motility, while the rabbit serum rather decreased growth of selected B. cereus strains. Altogether, powerful tools enabling the in-depth characterization of the strain-specific variations in B. cereus swimming motility were developed.