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Recombinant BCG strains expressing chimeric proteins derived from Leptospira protect hamsters against leptospirosis

Oliveira, Thaís Larré, Rizzi, Caroline, da Cunha, Carlos Eduardo Pouey, Dorneles, Jessica, Seixas Neto, Amilton Clair Pinto, Amaral, Marta Gonçalves, Hartwig, Daiane Drawanz, Dellagostin, Odir Antônio
Vaccine 2019 v.37 no.6 pp. 776-782
Leptospira interrogans, Mycobacterium bovis BCG, adjuvants, antigens, carrier state, genes, hamsters, humans, humoral immunity, immunoglobulin G, leptospirosis, lethal dose 50, recombinant fusion proteins, serotypes, signal peptide, sterilizing, survival rate, vaccines, zoonoses
Leptospirosis is a zoonosis that is responsible for one million human cases per year. Fusing multiple immunogenic antigens represents a promising approach to delivering an effective vaccine against leptospirosis. Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is a potential vaccine vector due to its adjuvant properties and safety. Two chimeric genes based on genic sequences of ligANI, ligBrep, lipL32, and lemA, were individually cloned into five BioBrick vectors with different promoters (pAN, Hsp60, 18 kDa, Ag85B and Ag85B plus signal sequence) for antigen expression in BCG. Groups of ten hamsters were vaccinated with recombinant BCG (rBCG) strains in two doses of 106 CFU and challenged with 5 × LD50 of L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni. All rBCG vaccines expressing chimera 1, based on antigens LipL32, LigANI, and LemA, under the control of any promoter, protected 80–100% of the hamsters from challenge (P < 0.05) and four of them also protected from renal carrier status; for chimera 2, based on LigANI and LigBrep antigens, the only vaccine that afforded survival rates statistically different from the control was the vaccine that incorporated the pAN promoter (60% of survival). A single vaccine dose was sufficient to induce significant IgG levels by all vaccine compositions evaluated; however, humoral response was not related to protection. These findings suggest that the combination of potential vaccine candidates in chimeric antigens and the use of BCG as a live vector are promising strategies by which it is possible to obtain an effective and sterilizing vaccine against leptospirosis.