Utilizing complement evasion strategies to design complement-based antibacterial immunotherapeutics: Lessons from the pathogenic Neisseriae.
ABSTRACT: Novel therapies are urgently needed to combat the global threat of multidrug-resistant pathogens. Complement forms an important arm of innate defenses against infections. In physiological conditions, complement activation is tightly controlled by soluble and membrane-associated complement inhibitors, but must be selectively activated on invading pathogens to facilitate microbial clearance. Many pathogens, including Neisseria gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis, express glycans, including N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac), that mimic host structures to evade host immunity. Neu5Ac is a negatively charged 9-cabon sugar that inhibits complement, in part by enhancing binding of the complement inhibitor factor H (FH) through C-terminal domains (19 and 20) on FH. Other microbes also bind FH, in most instances through FH domains 6 and 7 or 18-20. Here we describe two strategies to target complement activation on Neisseriae. First, microbial binding domains of FH were fused to IgG Fc to create FH18-20/Fc (binds gonococci) and FH6,7/Fc (binds meningococci). A point mutation in FH domain 19 eliminated hemolysis caused by unmodified FH18-20, but retained binding to gonococci. FH18-20/Fc and FH6,7/Fc mediated complement-dependent killing in vitro and showed efficacy in animal models of gonorrhea and meningococcal bacteremia, respectively. The second strategy utilized CMP-nonulosonate (CMP-NulO) analogs of sialic acid that were incorporated into LOS and prevented complement inhibition by physiologic CMP-Neu5Ac and resulted in attenuated gonococcal infection in mice. While studies to establish the safety of these agents are needed, enhancing complement activation on microbes may represent a promising strategy to treat antimicrobial resistant organisms.
Project description:Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the causative agent of the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhea, has developed resistance to almost every conventional antibiotic. There is an urgent need to develop novel therapies against gonorrhea. Many pathogens, including N. gonorrhoeae, bind the complement inhibitor factor H (FH) to evade complement-dependent killing. Sialylation of gonococcal lipooligosaccharide, as occurs in vivo, augments binding of human FH through its domains 18-20 (FH18-20). We explored the use of fusing FH18-20 with IgG Fc (FH18-20/Fc) to create a novel anti-infective immunotherapeutic. FH18-20 also binds to select host glycosaminoglycans to limit unwanted complement activation on host cells. To identify mutation(s) in FH18-20 that eliminated complement activation on host cells, yet maintained binding to N. gonorrhoeae, we created four mutations in domains 19 or 20 described in atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome that prevented binding of mutated fH to human erythrocytes. One of the mutant proteins (D to G at position 1119 in domain 19; FHD1119G/Fc) facilitated complement-dependent killing of gonococci similar to unmodified FH18-20/Fc but, unlike FH18-20/Fc, did not lyse human erythrocytes. FHD1119G/Fc bound to all (100%) of 15 sialylated clinical N. gonorrhoeae isolates tested (including three contemporary ceftriaxone-resistant strains), mediated complement-dependent killing of 10 of 15 (67%) strains, and enhanced C3 deposition (?10-fold above baseline levels) on each of the five isolates not directly killed by complement. FHD1119G/Fc facilitated opsonophagocytic killing of a serum-resistant strain by human polymorphonuclear neutrophils. FHD1119G/Fc administered intravaginally significantly reduced the duration and burden of gonococcal infection in the mouse vaginal colonization model. FHD1119G/Fc represents a novel immunotherapeutic against multidrug-resistant N. gonorrhoeae.
Project description:Novel therapeutics against the global threat of multidrug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae are urgently needed. Gonococci possess several mechanisms to evade killing by human complement, including binding of factor H (FH), a key inhibitor of the alternative pathway. FH comprises 20 short consensus repeat (SCR) domains organized in a head-to-tail manner as a single chain. N. gonorrhoeae binds two regions in FH; domains 6 and 7 and domains 18 through 20. We designed a novel anti-infective immunotherapeutic molecule that fuses domains 18-20 of FH containing a D-to-G mutation in domain 19 at position 1119 (called FH*) with human IgG1 Fc. FH*/Fc retained binding to gonococci but did not lyse human erythrocytes. Expression of FH*/Fc in tobacco plants was undertaken as an alternative, economical production platform. FH*/Fc was expressed in high yields in tobacco plants (300-600 mg/kg biomass). The activities of plant- and CHO-cell produced FH*/Fc against gonococci were similar in vitro and in the mouse vaginal colonization model of gonorrhea. The addition of flexible linkers [e.g., (GGGGS)2 or (GGGGS)3] between FH* and Fc improved the bactericidal efficacy of FH*/Fc 2.7-fold. The linkers also improved PMN-mediated opsonophagocytosis about 11-fold. FH*/Fc with linker also effectively reduced the duration and burden of colonization of two gonococcal strains tested in mice. FH*/Fc lost efficacy: i) in C6-/- mice (no terminal complement) and ii) when Fc was mutated to abrogate complement activation, suggesting that an intact complement was necessary for FH*/Fc function in vivo. In summary, plant-produced FH*/Fc represent promising prophylactic or adjunctive immunotherapeutics against multidrug-resistant gonococci.
Project description:Non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) cause a range of illnesses including otitis media, sinusitis, and exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, infections that contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance and are themselves often intractable to standard antibiotic treatment regimens. We investigated a strategy to exploit binding of the complement inhibitor Factor H (FH) to NTHi as a functional target for an immunotherapeutic containing the NTHi binding domain of FH fused to the Fc domain of IgG1. Chimeric proteins containing the regions that most FH-binding bacteria use to engage human FH, domains 6 and 7 (FH6,7/Fc) and/or 18 through 20 (FH18-20/Fc), were evaluated for binding to NTHi. FH6,7/Fc bound strongly to each of seven NTHi clinical isolates tested and efficiently promoted complement-mediated killing by normal human serum. FH18-20/Fc bound weakly to three of the strains but did not promote complement dependent killing. Outer-membrane protein P5 has been implicated in FH binding by NTHi, and FH6,7/Fc binding was greatly diminished in five of seven P5 deficient isogenic mutant strains tested, implicating an alternative FH binding protein in some strains. Binding of FH18-20/Fc was decreased in the P5 mutant of one strain. A murine model was used to evaluate potential therapeutic application of FH6,7/Fc. FH6,7/Fc efficiently promoted binding of C3 to NTHi exposed to mouse serum, and intranasal delivery of FH6,7/Fc resulted in significantly enhanced clearance of NTHi from the lung. Moreover, a P5 deficient mutant was attenuated for survival in the lung model, suggesting that escape mutants lacking P5 would be less likely to replace strains susceptible to FH6,7/Fc. These results provide evidence for the potential utility of FH6,7/Fc as a therapeutic against NTHi lung infection. FH binding is a common property of many respiratory tract pathogens and FH/Fc chimeras may represent promising alternative or adjunctive therapeutics against such infections, which are often polymicrobial.
Project description:Neisseria gonorrhoeae deploys a novel immune evasion strategy wherein the lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT) structure of lipooligosaccharide (LOS) is capped by the bacterial sialyltransferase, using host cytidine-5'-monophosphate (CMP)-activated forms of the nine-carbon nonulosonate (NulO) sugar N-acetyl-neuraminic acid (Neu5Ac), a sialic acid (Sia) abundant in humans. This allows evasion of complement-mediated killing by recruiting factor H (FH), an inhibitor of the alternative complement pathway, and by limiting classical pathway activation ("serum-resistance"). We utilized CMP salts of six additional natural or synthetic NulOs, Neu5Gc, Neu5Gc8Me, Neu5Ac9Ac, Neu5Ac9Az, legionaminic acid (Leg5Ac7Ac) and pseudaminic acid (Pse5Ac7Ac), to define structural requirements of Sia-mediated serum-resistance. While all NulOs except Pse5Ac7Ac were incorporated into the LNnT-LOS, only Neu5Gc incorporation yielded high-level serum-resistance and FH binding that was comparable to Neu5Ac, whereas Neu5Ac9Az and Leg5Ac7Ac incorporation left bacteria fully serum-sensitive and did not enhance FH binding. Neu5Ac9Ac and Neu5Gc8Me rendered bacteria resistant only to low serum concentrations. While serum-resistance mediated by Neu5Ac was associated with classical pathway inhibition (decreased IgG binding and C4 deposition), Leg5Ac7Ac and Neu5Ac9Az incorporation did not inhibit the classical pathway. Remarkably, CMP-Neu5Ac9Az and CMP-Leg5Ac7Ac each prevented serum-resistance despite a 100-fold molar excess of CMP-Neu5Ac in growth media. The concomitant presence of Leg5Ac7Ac and Neu5Ac on LOS resulted in uninhibited classical pathway activation. Surprisingly, despite near-maximal FH binding in this instance, the alternative pathway was not regulated and factor Bb remained associated with bacteria. Intravaginal administration of CMP-Leg5Ac7Ac to BALB/c mice infected with gonorrhea (including a multidrug-resistant isolate) reduced clearance times and infection burden. Bacteria recovered from CMP-Leg5Ac7Ac-treated mice were sensitive to human complement ex vivo, simulating in vitro findings. These data reveal critical roles for the Sia exocyclic side-chain in gonococcal serum-resistance. Such CMP-NulO analogs may provide a novel therapeutic strategy against the global threat of multidrug-resistant gonorrhea.
Project description:Factor H (FH) is a soluble regulator of the human complement system affording protection to host tissues. It selectively inhibits amplification of C3b, the activation-specific fragment of the abundant complement component C3, in fluid phase and on self-surfaces and accelerates the decay of the alternative pathway C3 convertase, C3bBb. We have determined the crystal structure of the three carboxyl-terminal complement control protein (CCP) modules of FH (FH18-20) that bind to C3b, and which additionally recognize polyanionic markers specific to self-surfaces. These CCPs harbour nearly 30 disease-linked missense mutations. We have also deployed small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to investigate FH18-20 flexibility in solution using FH18-20 and FH19-20 constructs. In the crystal lattice FH18-20 adopts a "J"-shape: A ~122-degree tilt between the structurally highly similar modules 18 and 19 precedes an extended, linear arrangement of modules 19 and 20 as observed in previously determined structures of these two modules alone. However, under solution conditions FH18-20 adopts multiple conformations mediated by flexibility between CCPs 18 and 19. We also pinpoint the locations of disease-associated missense mutations on the module 18 surface and discuss our data in the context of the C3b:FH interaction.
Project description:The emergence of antimicrobial resistance among several medically important pathogens represents a serious threat to human health globally and necessitates the development of novel therapeutics. Complement forms a key arm of innate immune defenses against invading pathogens. A mechanism of complement evasion employed by many pathogens is binding of complement inhibitors, including factor H (FH), a key downregulator of the alternative pathway. Most FH-binding bacteria engage FH through regions in FH spanned by domains 6 and 7 and/or 18 through 20. We created a chimeric protein that comprised human FH domains 6 and 7 fused to human IgG1 Fc (FH6,7/HuFc) and tested its activity as an immunotherapeutic against Neisseria meningitidis, which binds FH through domains 6 and 7. FH6,7/HuFc bound to meningococci and effectively blocked FH binding to bacteria. FH6,7/HuFc enhanced human C3 and C4 deposition and facilitated complement-mediated killing in a dose-responsive manner; complement activation and killing were classical pathway dependent. To investigate in vivo efficacy, infant Wistar rats were treated intraperitoneally (IP) with different doses of FH6,7/HuFc and challenged 2 h later with serogroup C strain 4243 given IP. At 8 to 9 h after the challenge, the FH6,7/HuFc-treated rats had >100-fold fewer CFU per ml of blood than control animals pretreated with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) or FH18-20/HuFc, which does not bind to meningococci (P < 0.0001). These data provide proof of concept of the utility of FH/Fc fusion proteins as anti-infective immunotherapeutics. Because many microbes share a common binding region(s) in FH, FH/Fc chimeric proteins may be a promising candidate for adjunctive therapy against drug-resistant pathogens.
Project description:Human factor H (HufH), a key inhibitor of the alternative pathway of complement, binds to Neisseria gonorrhoeae and constitutes an important mechanism of human-specific complement evasion. The C-terminal domain 20 of HufH contains the binding site for sialylated gonococci. We exploited differences in amino acid sequences between human and non-binding chimpanzee fH domain 20 to create cross-species mutations to define amino acids important for binding to sialylated gonococci. We used fH/Fc fusion constructs that contained contiguous fH domains 18-20 fused to Fc fragments of murine IgG2a. The Fc region was used both as a tag for detection of each fusion molecule on the bacterial surface and as an indicator for complement-dependent killing. Arg-1203 was critical for binding to both porin (Por) B.1A and PorB.1B strains. Modeling of the R1203N human-to-chimpanzee mutation using the crystal structure of HufH19-20 as a template showed a loss of positive charge that protrudes at the C terminus of domain 20. We tested the functional importance of Arg-1203 by incubating sialylated gonococci with normal human serum, in the presence of wild-type HufH18-20/Fc or its R1203A mutant. Gonococci bound and were killed by wild-type HufH18-20/Fc but not by the R1203A mutant. A recombinant fH/Fc molecule that contained chimpanzee domain 20, humanized only at amino acid 1203 (N1203R) also bound to sialylated gonococci and restored killing. These findings provide further insights into the species specificity of gonococcal infections and proof-of-concept of a novel therapeutic approach against gonorrhea, a disease rapidly becoming resistant to conventional antibiotics.
Project description:Novel therapeutics against multidrug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae are urgently needed. Gonococcal lipooligosaccharide often expresses lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT), which becomes sialylated in vivo, enhancing factor H (FH) binding and contributing to the organism's ability to resist killing by complement. We previously showed that FH domains 18-20 (with a D-to-G mutation at position 1119 in domain 19) fused to Fc (FHD1119G/Fc) displayed complement-dependent bactericidal activity in vitro and attenuated gonococcal vaginal colonization of mice. Gonococcal lipooligosaccharide phase variation can result in loss of LNnT expression. Loss of sialylated LNnT, although associated with a considerable fitness cost, could decrease efficacy of FHD1119G/Fc. Similar to N. meningitidis, gonococci also bind FH domains 6 and 7 through Neisserial surface protein A (NspA). In this study, we show that a fusion protein comprising FH domains 6 and 7 fused to human IgG1 Fc (FH6,7/Fc) bound to 15 wild-type antimicrobial resistant isolates of N. gonorrhoeae and to each of six lgtA gonococcal deletion mutants. FH6,7/Fc mediated complement-dependent killing of 8 of the 15 wild-type gonococcal isolates and effectively reduced the duration and burden of vaginal colonization of three gonococcal strains tested in wild-type mice, including two strains that resisted complement-dependent killing but on which FH6,7/Fc enhanced C3 deposition. FH/Fc lost efficacy when Fc was mutated to abrogate C1q binding and in C1q-/- mice, highlighting the requirement of the classical pathway for its activity. Targeting gonococci with FH6,7/Fc provides an additional immunotherapeutic approach against multidrug-resistant gonorrhea.
Project description:Multidrug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a global health problem. Monoclonal antibody (mAb) 2C7 recognizes a gonococcal lipooligosaccharide epitope that is expressed by >95% of clinical isolates and hastens gonococcal vaginal clearance in mice. Chimeric mAb 2C7 (human immunoglobulin G1 [IgG1]) with an E430G Fc modification that enhances Fc:Fc interactions and hexamerization following surface-target binding and increases complement activation (HexaBody technology) showed significantly greater C1q engagement and C4 and C3 deposition compared to mAb 2C7 with wild-type Fc. Greater complement activation by 2C7-E430G Fc translated to increased bactericidal activity in vitro and, consequently, enhanced efficacy in mice, compared with "Fc-unmodified" chimeric 2C7. Gonococci bind the complement inhibitors factor H (FH) and C4b-binding protein (C4BP) in a human-specific manner, which dampens antibody (Ab)-mediated complement-dependent killing. The variant 2C7-E430G Fc overcame the barrier posed by these inhibitors in human FH/C4BP transgenic mice, for which a single 1 ?g intravenous dose cleared established infection. Chlamydia frequently coexists with and exacerbates gonorrhea; 2C7-E430G Fc also proved effective against gonorrhea in gonorrhea/chlamydia-coinfected mice. Complement activation alone was necessary and sufficient for 2C7 function, evidenced by the fact that (1) "complement-inactive" Fc modifications that engaged Fc gamma receptor (Fc?R) rendered 2C7 ineffective, nonetheless; (2) 2C7 was nonfunctional in C1q-/- mice, when C5 function was blocked, or in C9-/- mice; and (3) 2C7 remained effective in neutrophil-depleted mice and in mice treated with PMX205, a C5a receptor (C5aR1) inhibitor. We highlight the importance of complement activation for antigonococcal Ab function in the genital tract. Elucidating the correlates of protection against gonorrhea will inform the development of Ab-based gonococcal vaccines and immunotherapeutics.
Project description:Both Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae recruit the alternative pathway complement inhibitory protein factor H (fH) to their surfaces to evade complement-dependent killing. Meningococci bind fH via fH binding protein (fHbp), a surface-exposed lipoprotein that is subdivided into three variant families based on one classification scheme. Chimeric proteins that comprise contiguous domains of fH fused to murine Fc were used to localize the binding site for all three fHbp variants on fH to short consensus repeat 6 (SCR 6). As expected, fH-like protein 1 (FHL-1), which contains fH SCR 6, also bound to fHbp-expressing meningococci. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we identified histidine 337 and histidine 371 in SCR 6 as important for binding to fHbp. These findings may provide the molecular basis for recent observations that demonstrated human-specific fH binding to meningococci. Differences in the interactions of fHbp variants with SCR 6 were evident. Gonococci bind fH via their porin (Por) molecules (PorB.1A or PorB.1B); sialylation of lipooligosaccharide enhances fH binding. Both sialylated PorB.1B- and (unsialylated) PorB.1A-bearing gonococci bind fH through SCR 18 to 20; PorB.1A can also bind SCR 6, but only weakly, as evidenced by a low level of binding of FHL-1 relative to that of fH. Using isogenic strains expressing either meningococcal fHbp or gonococcal PorB.1B, we discovered that strains expressing gonococcal PorB.1B in the presence of sialylated lipooligosaccharide bound more fH, more effectively limited C3 deposition, and were more serum resistant than their isogenic counterparts expressing fHbp. Differences in fH binding to these two related pathogens may be important for modulating their individual responses to host immune attack.