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Linkage between Anaplasma marginale outer membrane proteins enhances immunogenicity, but is not required for protection from challenge

Susan M. Noh, Joshua E. Turse, Wendy C. Brown, Junzo Norimine, Guy H. Palmer
Clinical and diagnostic laboratory immunology 2013 v.20 no.5 pp. 651-656
Anaplasma marginale, antibodies, antigens, bacterial infections, cattle, chemical bonding, crosslinking, immune response, outer membrane proteins, pathogens, subunit vaccines, vaccination, vaccine development
The prevention of bacterial infections via immunization presents particular challenges. While outer membrane extracts are often protective, they are difficult and expensive to isolate and standardize and thus are often impractical for development and implementation in vaccination programs. In contrast, individual proteins, which are easily adapted for use in subunit vaccines, tend to be poorly protective. Consequently, identification of the specific characteristics of outer membrane-based immunogens, in terms of the antigen contents and contexts that are required for protective immunity, represents a major gap in the knowledge needed for bacterial vaccine development. Using as a model Anaplasma marginale, a persistent tick-borne bacterial pathogen of cattle, we tested two sets of immunogens to determine whether membrane context affected immunogenicity and the capacity to induce protection. The first immunogen was composed of a complex of outer membrane proteins linked by covalent bonds and known to be protective. The second immunogen was derived directly from the first one, but the proteins were individualized rather than linked. The antibody response induced by the linked immunogen was much greater than that induced by the unlinked immunogen. However, both immunogens induced protective immunity and an anamnestic response. These findings suggest that individual proteins or combinations of proteins can be successfully tested for the ability to induce protective immunity with less regard for overall membrane context. Once protective antigens are identified, immunogenicity could be enhanced by cross-linking to allow a reduced immunogen dose or fewer booster vaccinations.