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New York Medical College

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Tularemia is a fatal human disease caused by Francisella tularensis, a Gram-negative encapsulated coccobacillus bacterium. Due to its low infectious dose, ease of aerosolized transmission, and lethal effects, the CDC lists F. tularensis as a Category A pathogen, the highest level for a potential biothreat agent. Previous vaccine studies have been conducted with live attenuated, inactivated, and subunit vaccines, which have achieved partial or full protection from F. tularensis live vaccine strain (LVS) challenge, but no vaccine has been approved for human use. We demonstrate the improved efficacy of a multi-antigen subunit vaccine by using Tobacco Mosaic virus (TMV) as an antigen carrier for the F. tularensis SchuS4 proteins DnaK, OmpA, SucB and Tul4 (DOST). The magnitude and quality of immune responses were compared after mice were immunized by subcutaneous or intranasal routes of administration with a TMV-DOST mixture, with or without four different adjuvants. Immune responses varied in magnitude and isotype profile, by antigen, by route of administration, and by protection in an F. tularensis LVS challenge model of disease. Interestingly, our analysis demonstrates an overwhelming IgG2 response to SucB after intranasal dosing, as well as a robust cellular response, which may account for the improved two-dose survival imparted by the tetravalent vaccine, compared to a previous study that tested efficacy of TMV-DOT. Our study provides evidence that potent humoral, cellular and mucosal immunity can be achieved by optimal antigen combination, delivery, adjuvant and appropriate route of administration, to improve vaccine potency and provide protection from pathogen challenge.

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Originally published in PLoS ONE, 13(4) [Article e0194614]. The original material can be found here.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.