Development of an ELISA for the quantification of mycolactone, the cytotoxic macrolide toxin of Mycobacterium ulcerans.

Warryn, Louisa; Dangy, Jean-Pierre; Gersbach, Philipp; Gehringer, Matthias; Schäfer, Anja; Ruf, Marie-Thérèse; Ruggli, Nicolas; Altmann, Karl-Heinz; Pluschke, Gerd (2020). Development of an ELISA for the quantification of mycolactone, the cytotoxic macrolide toxin of Mycobacterium ulcerans. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 14(6), e0008357. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pntd.0008357

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Mycolactones, macrolide cytotoxins, are key virulence factors of Mycobacterium ulcerans, the etiological agent of the chronic necrotizing skin disease Buruli ulcer. There is urgent need for a simple point-of-care laboratory test for Buruli ulcer and mycolactone represents a promising target for the development of an immunological assay. However, for a long time, all efforts to generate mycolactone-specific antibodies have failed. By using a protein conjugate of a truncated non-toxic synthetic mycolactone derivative, we recently described generation of a set of mycolactone-specific monoclonal antibodies. Using the first mycolactone-specific monoclonal antibodies that we have described before, we were able to develop an antigen competition assay that detects mycolactones. By the systematic selection of a capturing antibody and a reporter molecule, and the optimization of assay conditions, we developed an ELISA that detects common natural variants of mycolactone with a limit of detection in the low nanomolar range. The mycolactone-specific ELISA described here will be a very useful tool for research on the biology of this macrolide toxin. After conversion into a simple point-of-care test format, the competition assay may have great potential as laboratory assay for both the diagnosis of Buruli ulcer and for the monitoring of treatment efficacy.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Virology and Immunology

UniBE Contributor:

Ruggli, Nicolas


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




Public Library of Science




Pamela Schumacher

Date Deposited:

30 Jul 2020 09:05

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:39

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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