Exploiting the mycobacterial cell wall to design improved vaccines against tuberculosis.
ABSTRACT The only vaccine available against tuberculosis (TB), the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), does not provide effective protection against the most common forms of adult TB and in recent years efforts have been made to develop a new and improved vaccine. Among the strategies implemented, the generation of a new live attenuated mycobacterial strain is seen as one of the most promising and feasible, for scientific, ethical and practical reasons. The new understanding of the biology of the tubercle bacilli and of host-pathogen interaction processes, coupled with the possibility to engineer BCG or M. tuberculosis, opened new avenues to design "intelligent" vaccines, capable of eliciting the immune response associated with protection while avoiding the induction of the host immune response associated with immunopathology. The complex and highly immunogenic mycobacterial cell wall can shape the general and antigen specific immune response elicited following immunization, and the possibility to exploit this knowledge may lead to the development of new vaccines that could help conquer this ancient human disease.
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ABSTRACT: SigE represents one of the best characterized alternative sigma factors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, playing a major role in the response to several environmental stresses and essential for growth in macrophages and virulence. In previous work we demonstrated that a mutant of M. tuberculosis in which the sigE gene was disrupted by a cassette conferring hygromycin resistance is a promising vaccine candidate conferring better protection than Mycobacterium bovis BCG in a mouse model of infection. In this work we describe the construction of a new unmarked mutant in which the entire sigE gene was disrupted in order to fulfill the requirements of the Geneva consensus to enter clinical trials. After showing that the phenotype of this mutant is superimposable to that of the previous one, we further characterized the role of SigE in the M tuberculosis intracellular behavior showing that it is dispensable for replication in human pneumocytes, while it is essential for the arrest of phagosome maturation in THP-1-derived macrophages.PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e108893. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: A more effective vaccine against tuberculosis (TB) is urgently needed. Based on its high genetic homology with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the nonpathogenic mycobacteria, Mycobacterium smegmatis (Ms), could be an attractive source of potential antigens to be included in such a vaccine. We evaluated the capability of lipid-based preparations obtained from Ms to provide a protective response in Balb/c mice after challenge with Mtb H37Rv strain. The intratracheal model of progressive pulmonary TB was used to assess the level of protection in terms of bacterial load as well as the pathological changes in the lungs of immunized Balb/c mice following challenge with Mtb. Mice immunized with the lipid-based preparation from Ms either adjuvanted with Alum (LMs-AL) or nonadjuvanted (LMs) showed significant reductions in bacterial load (P < 0.01) compared to the negative control group (animals immunized with phosphate buffered saline (PBS)). Both lipid formulations showed the same level of protection as Bacille Calmette and Guerin (BCG). Regarding the pathologic changes in the lungs, mice immunized with both lipid formulations showed less pneumonic area when compared with the PBS group (P < 0.01) and showed similar results compared with the BCG group. These findings suggest the potential of LMs as a promising vaccine candidate against TB.BioMed Research International 01/2014; 2014:273129. · 2.71 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: PE_PGRS proteins are unique to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and a number of other pathogenic mycobacteria. PE_PGRS30, which is required for the full virulence of M. tuberculosis (Mtb), has three main domains, i.e. an N-terminal PE domain, repetitive PGRS domain and the unique C-terminal domain. To investigate the role of these domains, we expressed a GFP-tagged PE_PGRS30 protein and a series of its functional deletion mutants in different mycobacterial species (Mtb, Mycobacterium bovis BCG and Mycobacterium smegmatis) and analysed protein localization by confocal microscopy. We show that PE_PGRS30 localizes at the mycobacterial cell poles in Mtb and M. bovis BCG but not in M. smegmatis and that the PGRS domain of the protein strongly contributes to protein cellular localization in Mtb. Immunofluorescence studies further showed that the unique C-terminal domain of PE_PGRS30 is not available on the surface, except when the PGRS domain is missing. Immunoblot demonstrated that the PGRS domain is required to maintain the protein strongly associated with the non-soluble cellular fraction. These results suggest that the repetitive GGA-GGN repeats of the PGRS domain contain specific sequences that contribute to protein cellular localization and that polar localization might be a key step in the PE_PGRS30-dependent virulence mechanism.PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e112482. · 3.53 Impact Factor