Bordetella pertussis is a causative agent of pertussis or whooping cough in humans. Pertactin (Prn), fimbriae 2 (Fim2) and fimbriae 3 (Fim3) of B. pertussis are important virulence factors and immunogens which have been included in some acellular pertussis vaccines. In this present study, we cloned, expressed and purified Prn, Fim2 and Fim3, respectively. The immunogenicity and protective efficacy of the three recombinant proteins (rPrn, rFim2 and rFim3) were investigated in mouse model.
Three recombinant proteins with amount of 12 to 25 mg/L were produced. Compared to the control mice only immunized with adjuvant, serum IgG antibody responses were significantly induced in the mice immunized with rPrn, rFim2 or rFim3 (P < 0.001 for all three proteins). Furthermore, T cell responses characteristic of increased production of IL-2 and TNF-α (only for rPrn) were elicited in the mice immunized with the three proteins (P < 0.05 for all three proteins). Immunization with rPrn, but not with rFim2 or rFim3, significantly enhanced clearance of bacteria in the lungs of mice after intranasal challenge with B. pertussis (P < 0.05). When tested in a lethal intracerebral infection model, certain protection was observed in mice immunized with rPrn.
We have developed an efficient method to produce large amounts of rPrn, rFim2, and rFim3 from B. pertussis. The three recombinant proteins induced both humoral and cellular immune responses in mice. Immunization with rPrn also conferred protection against pertussis in mouse infection models. Our results indicated that the recombinant proteins still retain their immunological properties and highlighted the potential of the recombinant proteins for the future development of the B. pertussis vaccines.