Letter from Michael Heidelberger to Manfred M. Mayer, Johns Hopkins University
In this letter to Mayer, his former graduate student and collaborator in his research on complement, Heidelberger offered
comments on the draft of an article by Mayer on the kinetics (the rate and process) of hemolysis, the rupture of the membrane
of red blood cells (erythrocytes) and the release of hemoglobin, caused, in Mayer's experiments, by antibodies in the
form of complement-dependent lysis (rupture). Complement, a complex system of over twenty serum proteins, plays an essential
enzymatic role in host defense mechanisms against invading organisms.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (84,392 Bytes)
1948-07-13 (July 13, 1948)
Mayer, Manfred M.
Johns Hopkins University
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Complement System Proteins
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
Letter from Manfred M. Mayer, Johns Hopkins University to Michael Heidelberger (July 16, 1948)
I was delighted to get your hemolysis paper, for, as I've said before, it certainly starts a new era in the knowledge
of immune lysis. I've read it carefully and have only a few minor suggestions and questions:
Can you have a slide made for me of Fig. 9? I'd like very much to show that when I lecture on C' in Geneva and Zurich
Is it correct to say that "the velocity curves have a catalytic appearance"? Just what constitutes a "catalytic
appearance" and, without knowing their previous history, how could some of the curves in Fig. 1 be distinguished from
the uncatalytic precipitin curves? Of course the latter are not velocity curves, but do they not have a "catalytic appearance"?
Why could not the dissimilar kinetic behavior of antisera A and B be explained on the basis of their non-hemolytic antibodies?
These would compete in A by blocking reactive sites but the effect would eventually be overcome (possibly in part by reversal)
and the serum should ultimately overtake B in the later stages.
While I think your figure of 50A being necessary for the lysis of one red cell probably is much better than our 500, and certainly
approximates Brunius' value (which you really ought to mention), the discrepancy is not so great when you consider that
our figures were at the 30 or 45 min. level, rather than 440 min. If this is valid it might be well to point out the difference
in conditions for as we did not consider the velocity aspect, our value was not a true minimum. Yours would still be the
better figure as the minimum number of molecules of A permitting lysis regardless of conditions.