Identification of novel and cross-species seroreactive proteins from Bacillus anthracis using a ligation-independent cloning-based, SOS-inducible expression system.

Microb Pathog. 2012 Sep 10. pii: S0882-4010(12)00158-1. doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2012.08.006. [Epub ahead of print]


The current standard for Bacillus anthracis vaccination is the Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA, BioThrax). While effective, the licensed vaccine schedule requires five intramuscular injections in the priming series and yearly boosters to sustain protection. One potential approach to maintain or improve the protection afforded by an anthrax vaccine, but requiring fewer doses, is through the use of purified proteins to enhance an antibody response, which could be used on their own or in combination with the current vaccine. This study describes a novel, high-throughput system to amplify and clone every gene in the B. anthracis pXO1 and pXO2 virulence plasmids. We attempted to express each cloned gene in Escherichia coli, and obtained full-length expression of 57% of the proteins. Expressed proteins were then used to identify immunogens using serum from three different mammalian infection models: Dutch-belted rabbits, BALB/c mice, and rhesus macaque monkeys. Ten proteins were detected by antibodies in all of these models, eight of which have not been identified as immunoreactive in other studies to date. Serum was also collected from humans who had received the AVA vaccine, and similar screens showed that antigens that were detected in the infection models were not present in the serum of vaccinated humans, suggesting that antibodies elicited by the current AVA vaccine do not react with the immunoreactive proteins identified in this study. These results will contribute to the future selection of targets in antigenicity and protection studies as one or more of these proteins may prove to be worthy of inclusion in future vaccine preparations.


McWilliams BD, Palzkill T, Weinstock GM, Petrosino JF.

Institute Authors