Y-010. Isolation and Characterization of Specific Oligopepetide Probes for Detection of Bacillus anthracis Spores

I-H. Chen, J. M. Barbaree, S-J. Suh;
Auburn Univ., Auburn, AL.

In order to respond effectively to potential bioterrorism attacks, it is imperative to detect and identify the biological threat agents. The leading potential bioterrorism agent is the spore of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis that causes anthrax. B. anthracis spores have already been utilized to threaten the United States Congress and US Postal Services following the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. To effectively combat potential attack with B. anthracis spores, several B. anthracis detection methods have been developed. These include immunoaffinity assays and Polymerase Chain Reaction based detections. Of the two methods, immunoaffinity or other similar detection methods utilizing a specific probe against B. anthracis offer faster detection of the pathogen than the PCR based assay. Unfortunately, due to the phlyogenetical similarities of Bacillus cereus group (including B. anthracis, B. cereus, and B. thuringiensis), most of the available probes lack high specificity to B. anthracis spores. Thus, we isolated oligopeptide probes that demonstrated higher specificity than the previously characterized probes. These B. anthracis spore specific probes were isolated from a commercially available pIII phage display library using modified biopanning procedures outlined in this study. Of several classes of probes isolated, one particular class demonstrated high specific binding to B. anthracis spores with lower cross reactivity to B. cereus spores, and is being incorporated into a rapid test system.