[Rutgers University] Institute of Microbiology Annual Report: July 1, 1955 - June 30, 1956
After his retirement from Columbia University in 1954, Heidelberger spent nine years as visiting investigator and honorary
professor at the Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers. This report summarized his ongoing research into the polysaccharide
antigens of pneumococcus and into cross reactions, the interaction of an antigen with an antibody formed against a different
antigen with which the first antigen shares closely related determinants. Antigenic determinants, today often called epitopes,
are sites on the surface of antigen molecules to which a single, specific antibody binds.
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"If I Have a Few More Years to Work, I'm Going Ahead": An Active Retirement, 1954-1991
Galactose has been identified in the Type IV substance, and evidence for the presence of amino sugars obtained. The Type
VI substance contains galactose, glucose and rhamnose, as well as phosphate linkages and a possible sugar alcohol. It is
sensitive to alkali. The Type VII substance appears also to be made up of galactose, and rhamnose, with one or two amino
sugars present as well. Nothing had hitherto been known of the chemistry of these substances.
Cross reactions of antipneumococcus sera
The reactivity of the Khaya gums in Type I antiserum indicated that they contained galacturonic acid, and this was subsequently
confirmed by Professor Hirst, of Edinburgh. Work on the fractionation of gum Arabic by Type II antipneumococcus serum was
completed and published. This study necessitates a revision of the current belief in the relative homogeneity of gum arabic.
The slime produced by Aerobacter aerogenes reacts strongly in Type II antiserum, indicating that part of its glucuronic acid
at least, is linked similarly to the known glucuronic acid linkages in the specific polysaccharide of Type II pneumococcus.
This will lighten the task of the Birmingham chemists studying the aerogenes substance. The cross reactions of Azotobacter
and Rhizopus radicicelum polysaccharides are not entirely in accord with the published structures of the substances, and the
questions raised are being discussed with the English chemists involved. A polysaccharide isolated from anthrax cells obtained
from infected animals gave a precipitate in Type XIV antipneumococcus serum, while similar material from bacilli grown in
culture failed to do so. The difference is not due to the presence of Forssman antigen in one and its absence in the other.
Data on the composition of the precipitates of glycogen and anylopectin in various antisera are being prepared for publication.
Cross reactions of anti-typhoid and anti-paratyphoid B sera
The selective precipitation of one or another of these sera by the capsular polysaccharide of Type II pneumococcus, yeast
mannan, glucogen, gum arabic, and carob mucilage in particular, has permitted deductions as to the linkages of galactose,
glucose, and mannose in the typhoid 0-polysaccharide and certain differences in the linkages of mannose in the para B polysaccharide.
Dr. A. M. Staub of the Pasteur Institute, Paris, who is studying the chemistry of these substances, reports that her data
on the methylation and periodate oxidation of the carbohydrates are entirely in accord with the conclusions drawn. A paper
on these cross reactions has been accepted by the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
In September and October, 1955, Dr. Heidelberger gave lectures in Denver, Honolulu, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka,
and Sapporo and presented, with some apparent effect, the point of view of the Rutgers Foundation to four Japanese manufacturers
of streptomycin. In March 1956, he was awarded the Degree of M.D., honoria cause, by the University of Oslo.
Papers publishing during the period, in addition to those in Dr. Plescia's report:
Immunochemistry and the Structure of Lung Galactan, Heidelberger, M., DIsche, G., Neely, W. B., and Wolfrom, M. C., J. Am.
Chem. Soc., 77, 3511 (1955).
Immunological Specificities Involving Multiple Units of Galactose II. Heidelberger, Michael, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 77, 4308 (1955).
The Immunological Specificity of Type II Pneumococcus and its Separation into Partial Specificities. Heidelberger, M., and
Adams, J., J. Exptl. Med., 103, 189 (1956).
Fractionation of Gum Arabic by Chemical and Immunological Procedures. Heidelberger, M., Adams, J., and Dische, Z., J. Am.
Chem. Soc., 78, 2853 (1956).