Dharmasena MN, Feuille CM, Starke CE, Bhagwat AA, Stibitz S, & Kopecko DJ
The licensed oral, live-attenuated bacterial vaccine for typhoid fever, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi strain Ty21a, has also been utilized as a vaccine delivery platform for expression of diverse foreign antigens that stimulate protection against shigellosis, anthrax, plague, or human papilloma virus. However, Ty21a is acid-labile and, for effective oral immunization, stomach acidity has to be either neutralized with buffer or by-passed with Ty21a in an enteric-coated capsule (ECC). Several studies have shown that efficacy is reduced when Ty21a is administered in an ECC versus as a buffered liquid formulation, the former limiting exposure to GI tract lymphoid tissues. However, the ECC was selected as a more practical delivery format for both packaging/shipping and vaccine administration ease. We have sought to increase Ty21a acid-resistance to allow for removal from the ECC and immune enhancement. To improve Ty21a acid-resistance, glutamate-dependent acid resistance genes (GAD; responsible for Shigella spp. survival at very low pH) were cloned on a multi-copy plasmid (pGad) under a controllable arabinose-inducible promoter. pGad enhanced acid survival of Ty21a by 5 logs after 3 hours at pH 2.5, when cells were pre-grown in arabinose and under conditions that promote an acid-tolerance response (ATR). For genetically 100% stable expression, we inserted the gad genes into the Ty21a chromosome, using a method that allowed for subsequent removal of a selectable antibiotic resistance marker. Further, both bacterial growth curves and survival assays in cultured human monocytes/macrophages suggest that neither the genetic methods employed nor the resulting acid-resistance conferred by expression of the Gad proteins in Ty21a had any effect on the existing attenuation of this vaccine strain.
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