Evaluation of truncated NhhA protein as a candidate meningococcal vaccine antigen.
ABSTRACT: NhhA (Neisseria hia homologue) is an outer membrane protein from Neisseria meningitidis, the causative agent of meningococcal disease. The protein is surface exposed and its expression in a wide range of meningococcal strains suggests it is a promising vaccine candidate. In addition, immunization of mice with outer membrane vesicles of strains that overexpress NhhA in conjunction with one of TbpA, Omp85 or NspA results in synergistic bactericidal responses. We previously showed that the NhhA sequence is highly conserved between strains, with the majority of the differences localized to four distinct variable regions located in the amino-terminal region of the mature protein. In this study, N. meningitidis strains were constructed that over-express wild-type NhhA. Strains expressing truncated versions of NhhA, with deletions from the amino-terminal region that removed the most variable regions, were also made. These expression strains were also modified so that immunodominant, phase- and antigenically-variable outer membrane proteins were not expressed, truncated lipooligosaccharide (LOS) expression was genetically fixed (no phase variability), and capsular polysaccharide expression abolished. Outer membrane vesicles derived from these strains were used to immunize mice. As previously observed, a synergistic effect involving another antigen, TbpA, was required to demonstrate bactericidal activity. The highest bactericidal response against a heterologous strain was obtained with a truncated variant of NhhA. These results indicate that removal of (a) variable region(s) does not reduce bactericidal responses against NhhA, and that bactericidal targets exist in regions other than the variable N-teminus. This provides the basis for future examination of responses against truncated NhhA in protecting against heterologous NhhA strains, and further evaluation of truncated NhhA as a candidate for inclusion in a vaccine against all serogroups of N. meningitidis.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis NhhA (Neisseria hia/hsf homologue A) is an oligomeric outer membrane protein belonging to the family of trimeric autotransporter adhesins. NhhA mediates the interaction of N. meningitidis with human epithelial cells and components of the extracellular matrix. The recombinant protein is able to induce bactericidal antibodies and hence has also been considered a potential vaccine candidate. In this study, we analyzed the production of NhhA in a large panel of N. meningitidis strains belonging to different serogroups and clonal complexes. We found that trimeric NhhA was produced at different levels by the various strains tested. In some strains belonging to the clonal complex ST41/44, the protein is detectable only as a monomer. Sequencing of the nhhA gene and generation of complementing strains in different genetic backgrounds have proved that a single mutation (Gly to Asp) in the translocator domain affected both trimerization and surface localization of NhhA. In vitro infection assays showed that this mutation impairs meningococcal NhhA-mediated adhesion, suggesting that strains carrying the mutation may rely on different strategies or molecules to mediate interaction with host cells. Finally, we demonstrated that N. meningitidis ST41/44 strains producing the mutated form did not induce killing mediated by NhhA-specific bactericidal antibodies. Our data help to elucidate the secretion mechanisms of trimeric autotransporters and to understand the contribution of NhhA in the evolutionary process of host-Neisseria interactions. Also, they might have important implications for the evaluation of NhhA as a vaccine candidate.
Project description:To better characterize the vaccine potential of Neisseria meningitidis transferrin binding proteins (Tbps), we have overexpressed TbpA and TbpB from Neisseria meningitidis isolate K454 in Escherichia coli. The ability to bind human transferrin was retained by both recombinant proteins, enabling purification by affinity chromotography. The recombinant Tbps were evaluated individually and in combination in a mouse intraperitoneal-infection model to determine their ability to protect against meningococcal infection and to induce cross-reactive and bactericidal antibodies. For the first time, TbpA was found to afford protection against meningococcal challenge when administered as the sole immunogen. In contrast to the protection conferred by TbpB, this protection extended to a serogroup C isolate and strain B16B6, a serogroup B isolate with a lower-molecular-weight TbpB than that from strain K454. However, serum from a TbpB-immunized rabbit was found to be significantly more bactericidal than that from a TbpA-immunized animal. Our evidence demonstrates that TbpA used as a vaccine antigen may provide protection against a wider range of meningococcal strains than does TbpB alone. This protection appears not to be due to complement-mediated lysis and indicates that serum bactericidal activity may not always be the most appropriate predictor of efficacy for protein-based meningococcal vaccines.
Project description:Currently available Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B (MenB) vaccines are based on outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) that are obtained from wild-type strains. They are purified with the aim of decreasing the lipooligosaccharide (LOS) content and hence reduce the reactogenicity of the vaccine even though LOS is a potential protective antigen. In <2-year-old children, these MenB vaccines confer protection only against strains expressing homologous PorA, a major and variable outer membrane protein. Our objective was to develop a safe LOS-based vaccine against MenB. To this end, we used modified porA knockout strains expressing genetically detoxified (msbB gene-deleted) L2 and L3,7 LOSs, allowing the production of LOS-enriched OMVs. The vaccine-induced antibodies were found to be bactericidal against nearly all invasive strains, irrespective of capsular serogroup. In addition, we have also demonstrated that LOS lacking the terminal galactose (with a lgtB mutation; truncated L3 LOS), but not LOS produced without the galE gene, induced a bactericidal antibody response in mice similar to that seen for LOS containing the full lacto-N-neotetraose (L3,7 LOS). In conclusion, a bivalent detoxified LOS OMV-based vaccine demonstrated the potential to afford a broad cross-protection against meningococcal disease.
Project description:Rabbit immunogenicity studies on an experimental trivalent native outer membrane vesicle vaccine derived from three serogroup B strains were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of this vaccine at inducing an antibody response with serum bactericidal activity against meningococcal strains of other serogroups in addition to serogroup B strains. The results showed that the vaccine was capable of inducing an effective broad-based bactericidal antibody response in rabbits against a small sample of Neisseria meningitidis strains of serogroups C, W135, and X and, to a lesser extent, serogroups A and Y. Analysis of antibody specificity using a bactericidal depletion assay revealed that antibodies to lipooligosaccharide (LOS), PorA, and NadA induced in rabbits by the experimental trivalent outer membrane vesicle vaccine were responsible for most of the bactericidal activity against strains of the other N. meningitidis serogroups. In the case of serogroup A N. meningitidis strains, the outer membrane antigen NadA was primarily responsible for protection. The outer membrane antigens fHbp and OpcA were also effective in removing some bactericidal activity from the sera.
Project description:The surface transferrin receptor proteins from Neisseria gonorrhoeae have been recognized as ideal vaccine targets due to their critical role in survival in the human male genitourinary tract. Recombinant forms of the surface lipoprotein component of the receptor, transferrin binding protein B (TbpB), can be readily produced at high levels in the Escherichia coli cytoplasm and is suitable for commercial vaccine production. In contrast, the integral outer membrane protein, transferrin binding protein A (TbpA), is produced at relatively low levels in the outer membrane and requires detergents for solubilization and stabilization, processes not favorable for commercial applications. Capitalizing on the core ?-barrel structural feature common to the lipoprotein and integral outer membrane protein we engineered the lipoprotein as a scaffold for displaying conserved surface epitopes from TbpA. A stable version of the C-terminal domain of TbpB was prepared by replacing four larger exposed variable loops with short linking peptide regions. Four surface regions from the plug and barrel domains of Neisseria TbpA were transplanted onto this TbpB C-lobe scaffold, generating stable hybrid antigens. Antisera generated in mice and rabbits against the hybrid antigens recognized TbpA at the surface of Neisseria meningitidis and inhibited transferrin-dependent growth at levels comparable or better than antisera directed against the native TbpA protein. Two of the engineered hybrid antigens each elicited a TbpA-specific bactericidal antibody response comparable to that induced by TbpA. A hybrid antigen generated using a foreign scaffold (TbpB from the pig pathogen Haemophilus parasuis) displaying neisserial TbpA loop 10 was evaluated in a model of lower genital tract colonization by N. gonorrhoeae and a model of invasive infection by N. meningitidis. The loop 10 hybrid antigen was as effective as full length TbpA in eliminating N. gonorrhoeae from the lower genital tract of female mice and was protective against the low dose invasive infection by N. meningitidis. These results demonstrate that TbpB or its derivatives can serve as an effective scaffold for displaying surface epitopes of integral outer membrane antigens and these antigens can elicit protection against bacterial challenge.
Project description:The capsular polysaccharide of Neisseria meningitidis group B is an autoantigen, whereas noncapsular antigens are highly variable. These factors present formidable challenges for development of a broadly protective and safe group B vaccine. Mice and guinea pigs were sequentially immunized with three doses of micovesicles or outer membrane vesicles prepared from three meningococcal strains that were each antigenically heterologous with respect to the two major porin proteins, PorA and PorB, and the group capsular polysaccharide. The resulting antisera conferred passive protection against meningococcal group B bacteremia in infant rats and elicited complement-mediated bactericidal activity against genetically diverse group B strains that were either homologous or heterologous with respect to PorA of the strains used to prepare the vaccine. By using knockout strains, a portion of the bactericidal antibody was directed against the highly conserved protein, neisserial surface protein A (NspA). Further, an anti-NspA monoclonal antibody elicited by the sequential immunization was highly bactericidal against strains that were previously shown to be resistant to bacteriolysis by anti-NspA antibodies produced by immunization with recombinant NspA. Sequential immunization with heterologous vesicle preparations offers a novel approach to eliciting broadly protective immunity against N. meningitidis strains. An NspA-based vaccine prepared from protein expressed by Neisseria also may be more effective than the corresponding recombinant protein made in Escherichia coli.
Project description:When grown under iron limitation, Neisseria meningitidis expresses several additional outer membrane proteins (OMPs), which were studied to assess their vaccine potential. Two monoclonal antibodies were obtained against a 98-kDa OMP of strain 2996 (B:2b:P1.2). Cross-reactivity studies revealed that the two antibodies reacted with 44 and 42 of 74 meningococcal strains, respectively. The antibodies did not block the binding of transferrin or lactoferrin to intact cells. The structural gene for the protein, tentatively designated iroA, was isolated and sequenced. Computer analysis revealed homology to the ferric siderophore receptors in the outer membrane of Escherichia coli and to gonococcal transferrin-binding protein 1 (TbpA). The high degree of cross-reactivity and the results of Southern blot analyses, which showed that the iroA gene is also present in strains that did not react with the monoclonal antibodies, suggest that the 98-kDa OMP is well conserved among meningococci and that it is a suitable vaccine candidate. However, the antibodies were not bactericidal in an in vitro assay with human complement.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis is a major global pathogen causing invasive disease with a mortality of 5-10%. Most disease in developed countries is caused by serogroup B infection, against which there is no universal vaccine. Opacity-associated adhesin (Opa) proteins are major meningococcal outer membrane proteins, which have shown recent promise as a potential novel vaccine. Immunisation of mice with different Opa variants elicited high levels of meningococcal-specific bactericidal antibodies, demonstrating proof in principle for this approach. Opa proteins are critical in meningococcal pathogenesis, mediating bacterial adherence to host cells, and modulating human cellular immunity via interactions with T cells and neutrophils, although there are conflicting data regarding their effects on CD4(+) T cells. We constructed Opa-positive and Opa-negative meningococcal strains to allow further evaluation of Opa as a vaccine component. All four opa genes from N. meningitidis strain H44/76 were sequentially disrupted to construct all possible combinations of N. meningitidis strains deficient in one, two, three, or all four opa genes. The transformations demonstrated that homologous recombination of exogenous DNA into the meningococcal chromosome can occur with as little as 80 bp, and that minor sequence differences are permissible. Anti-Opa bactericidal antibody responses following immunisation of mice with recombinant Opa were specific to the Opa variant used in immunisation. No immunomodulatory effects were observed when Opa was contained within meningococcal outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), compared to Opa-negative OMVs. These observations support the incorporation of Opa in meningococcal vaccines.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>Neisseria meningitidis colonizes the nasopharyngeal mucosa of healthy populations asymptomatically, although the bacterial surface is rich in motifs that activate the host innate immunity. What determines the tolerant host response to this bacterium in asymptomatic carriers is poorly understood. We demonstrated that the conserved meningococcal surface protein NhhA orchestrates monocyte (Mo) differentiation specifically into macrophage-like cells with a CD200R(hi) phenotype (NhhA-M?). In response to meningococcal stimulation, NhhA-M? failed to produce proinflammatory mediators. Instead, they upregulated interleukin-10 (IL-10) and Th2/regulatory T cell (Treg)-attracting chemokines, such as CCL17, CCL18, and CCL22. Moreover, NhhA-M? were highly efficient in eliminating bacteria. The in vivo validity of these findings was corroborated using a murine model challenged with N. meningitidis systematically or intranasally. The NhhA-modulated immune response protected mice from septic shock; Mo/M? depletion abolished this protective effect. Intranasal administration of NhhA induced an anti-inflammatory response, which was associated with N. meningitidis persistence at the nasopharynx. In vitro studies demonstrated that NhhA-triggered Mo differentiation occurred upon engaged Toll-like receptor 1 (TLR1)/TLR2 signaling and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) activation and required endogenously produced IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?). Our findings reveal a strategy that might be adopted by N. meningitidis to maintain asymptomatic nasopharyngeal colonization.<h4>Importance</h4>Neisseria meningitidis is an opportunistic human-specific pathogen that colonizes the nasopharyngeal mucosa asymptomatically in approximately 10% of individuals. Very little is known about how this bacterium evades immune activation during the carriage stage. Here, we observed that N. meningitidis, via the conserved surface protein NhhA, skewed monocyte differentiation into macrophages with a CD200R(hi) phenotype. Both in vivo and in vitro data demonstrated that these macrophages, upon meningococcal infection, played an important role in forming a homeostatic immune microenvironment through their capacity to eliminate invading bacteria and to generate anti-inflammatory mediators. This work provides novel insight into the mechanisms underlying the commensal persistence of N. meningitidis.
Project description:Phagocytotic cells play a fundamental role in the defense against bacterial pathogens. One mechanism whereby bacteria evade phagocytosis is to produce factors that trigger apoptosis. Here we identify for the first time a meningococcal protein capable of inducing macrophage apoptosis. The conserved meningococcal outer membrane protein NhhA (Neisseria hia/hsf homologue A, also known as Hsf) mediates bacterial adhesion and interacts with extracellular matrix components heparan sulphate and laminin. Meningococci lacking NhhA fail to colonise nasal mucosa in a mouse model of meningococcal disease. We found that exposure of macrophages to NhhA resulted in a highly increased rate of apoptosis that proceeded through caspase activation. Exposure of macrophages to NhhA also led to iNOS induction and nitric oxide production. However, neither nitric oxide production nor TNF-? signaling was found to be a prerequisite for NhhA-induced apoptosis. Macrophages exposed to wildtype NhhA-expressing meningococci were also found to undergo apoptosis whereas NhhA-deficient meningococci had a markedly decreased capacity to induce macrophage apoptosis. These data provide new insights on the role of NhhA in meningococcal disease. NhhA-induced macrophage apoptosis could be a mechanism whereby meningococci evade immunoregulatory and phagocytotic actions of macrophages.