[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The primary immunogenic component of the currently approved anthrax vaccine is the protective antigen (PA) unit of the binary toxin system. PA-specific antibodies neutralize anthrax toxins and protect against infection. Recent research has determined that in humans, only antibodies specific for particular determinants are capable of effecting toxin neutralization, and that the neutralizing epitopes recognized by these antibodies are distributed throughout the PA monomer. The mechanisms by which the majority of these epitopes effect neutralization remain unknown. In this report we investigate the process by which a human monoclonal antibody specific for the amino-terminal domain of PA neutralizes lethal toxin in an in vitro assay of cytotoxicity, and find that it neutralizes LT by blocking the requisite cleavage of the amino-terminal 20 kD portion of the molecule (PA(20)) from the remainder of the PA monomer. We also demonstrate that the epitope recognized by this human monoclonal does not encompass the (166)RKKR(169) furin recognition sequence in domain 1 of PA.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protective antigen (PA) is the cell surface recognition unit of the binary anthrax toxin system and the primary immunogenic component in both the current and proposed "next-generation" anthrax vaccines. Several studies utilizing animal models have indicated that PA-specific antibodies, acquired by either active or passive immunization, are sufficient to protect against infection with Bacillus anthracis. To investigate the human antibody response to anthrax immunization, we have established a large panel of human PA-specific monoclonal antibodies derived from multiple individuals vaccinated with the currently approved anthrax vaccine BioThrax. We have determined that although these antibodies bind PA in standard binding assays such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, Western blotting, capture assays, and dot blots, less than 25% are capable of neutralizing lethal toxin (LT) in vitro. Nonneutralizing antibodies also fail to neutralize toxin when present in combination with other nonneutralizing paratopes. Although neutralizing antibodies recognize determinants throughout the PA monomer, they are significantly less common among those paratopes that bind to the immunodominant amino-terminal portion of the molecule. These findings demonstrate that PA binding alone is not sufficient to neutralize LT and suggest that for an antibody to effectively block PA-mediated toxicity, it must bind to PA such that one of the requisite toxin functions is disrupted. A vaccine design strategy that directed a higher percentage of the antibody response toward neutralizing epitopes may result in a more efficacious vaccine for the prevention of anthrax infection.
Infection and immunity 03/2009; 77(5):2030-5. · 4.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protective antigen (PA) is the cell surface recognition moiety of the Bacillus anthracis A-B toxin system, and the active immunogenic component in the currently licensed human anthrax vaccine (BioThrax, or AVA). The serum antibody response to the PA protein is polyclonal and complex both in terms of the antibody combining sites utilized to bind PA and the PA-associated epitopes recognized. We have cloned, sequenced, and expressed a large panel of PA-specific human monoclonal antibodies from seven AVA-immunized donors. Dot blots, Western blots, and radiolabeled antigen capture assays employing both proteolytic fragments of PA and engineered PA sub-domain fusion proteins were used to determine the region (domain) of the PA monomer to which each of the cloned human antibodies bound. The domain specificity of the isolated monoclonals was highly biased towards the amino-terminal 20kDa fragment of PA (PA(20)), with the majority (62%) of independently arising antibody clones reacting with determinants located on this PA fragment. A similar bias in domain specificity was also demonstrated in the serum response of AVA-vaccinated donors. Since PA(20) is cleaved from the remainder of the monomer rapidly following cell surface binding and has no known role in the intoxication process, the immunodominance of PA(20)-associated epitopes may directly affect the efficacy of PA-based anthrax vaccines.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The active component of the licensed human anthrax vaccine (BioThrax, or AVA) is a Bacillus anthracis toxin known as protective antigen (PA). Second generation anthrax vaccines currently under development are also based on a recombinant form of PA. Since the current and future anthrax vaccines are based on this toxin, it is important that the immunobiology of this protein in vaccinated humans be understood in detail. We have isolated and analyzed the PA-specific antibody repertoire from an AVA-vaccinated individual. When examined at the clonal level, we find an antibody response that is complex in terms of the combinatorial elements and immunoglobulin variable genes employed. All PA-specific antibodies had undergone somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination, both signs of affinity maturation. Although the antigenic epitopes recognized by the response were distributed throughout the PA monomer, the majority of antibodies arising in this individual following vaccination recognize determinants located on the amino-terminal (PA20) sub-domain of the molecule. This latter finding may have implications for the rational design of future PA-based anthrax vaccines.