NYMC Faculty Publications

Aim2 and Nlrp3 Are Dispensable for Vaccine-Induced Immunity against Francisella tularensis Live Vaccine Strain

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Infection and immunity

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Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology


Francisella tularensis is a facultative, intracellular, Gram-negative bacterium that causes a fatal disease known as tularemia. Due to its extremely high virulence, ease of spread by aerosolization, and potential to be used as a bioterror agent, F. tularensis is classified by the CDC as a tier 1 category A select agent. Previous studies have demonstrated the roles of the inflammasome sensors absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2) and NLRP3 in the generation of innate immune responses to F. tularensis infection. However, contributions of both the AIM2 and NLRP3 to the development of vaccine-induced adaptive immune responses against F. tularensis are not known. This study determined the contributions of Aim2 and Nlrp3 inflammasome sensors to vaccine-induced immune responses in a mouse model of respiratory tularemia. We developed a model to vaccinate Aim2- and Nlrp3-deficient (Aim2-/- and Nlrp3-/-) mice using the emrA1 mutant of the F. tularensis live vaccine strain (LVS). The results demonstrate that the innate immune responses in Aim2-/- and Nlrp3-/- mice vaccinated with the emrA1 mutant differ from those of their wild-type counterparts. However, despite these differences in the innate immune responses, both Aim2-/- and Nlrp3-/- mice are fully protected against an intranasal lethal challenge dose of F. tularensis LVS. Moreover, the lack of both Aim2 and Nlrp3 inflammasome sensors does not affect the production of vaccination-induced antibody and cell-mediated responses. Overall, this study reports a novel finding that both Aim2 and Nlrp3 are dispensable for vaccination-induced immunity against respiratory tularemia caused by F. tularensis.