In adaptive immunity, T helper-17 lymphocytes produce the IL-17 and IL-22 cytokines that stimulate mucosal antimicrobial defenses and tissue repair. Here, we observed that the TLR5 agonist flagellin induced swift and transient transcription genes encoding IL-17 and IL-22 in lymphoid, gut and lung tissues. This innate response also temporarily enhanced the expression of genes associated with the antimicrobial Th17 signature. The source of the Th17-related cytokines was identified as novel populations of CD3negCD127+ immune cells among which CD4-expressing cells resembling lymphoid tissue inducer cells. We also demonstrated that dendritic cells are essential for expression of Th17-related cytokines and so for stimulation of innate cells. These data define that TLR-induced activation of CD3negCD127+ cells and production of Th17-related cytokines may be crucial for the early defenses against pathogen invasion of host tissues.
Toll-like receptor; innate immunity; mucosal immunity; dendritic cell; Animals; Antigens, CD3; genetics; immunology; metabolism; Cells, Cultured; Dendritic Cells; drug effects; immunology; metabolism; Female; Flagellin; pharmacology; Flow Cytometry; Gene Expression; drug effects; immunology; Ileum; drug effects; immunology; metabolism; Interleukin-17; genetics; immunology; metabolism; Interleukin-7 Receptor alpha Subunit; genetics; immunology; metabolism; Interleukins; genetics; immunology; metabolism; Lymphoid Tissue; cytology; immunology; metabolism; Male; Mice; Mice, Inbred BALB C; Mice, Inbred C57BL; Mice, Knockout; Mice, SCID; Mice, Transgenic; Mucous Membrane; cytology; immunology; metabolism; Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis; Signal Transduction; immunology; Spleen; cytology; immunology; metabolism; Toll-Like Receptor 5; genetics; immunology; metabolism
Animals; Humans; Immune System; physiology; Immunity, Active; physiology; Immunity, Natural; physiology; Intestines; immunology
The chemokine CCL20, the unique ligand of CCR6 functions as an attractant of immune cells. Expression of CCL20 is induced by Toll-like Receptor (TLR) signaling or proinflammatory cytokine stimulation. However CCL20 is also constitutively produced at specific epithelial sites of mucosa. This expression profile is achieved by transcriptional regulation. In the present work we characterized regulatory features of mouse Ccl20 gene. Transcriptional fusions between the mouse Ccl20 promoter and the firefly luciferase (luc) encoding gene were constructed and assessed in in vitro and in vivo assays. We found that liver CCL20 expression and luciferase activity were upregulated by systemic administration of the TLR5 agonist flagellin. Using shRNA and dominant negative form specific for mouse TLR5, we showed that this expression was controlled by TLR5. To address in situ the regulation of gene activity, a transgenic mouse line harboring a functional Ccl20-luc fusion was generated. The luciferase expression was highly concordant with Ccl20 expression in different tissues. Our data indicate that the transgenic mouse model can be used to monitor activation of innate response in vivo.
Bacterial superantigens (SAgs) are immunostimulatory toxins that induce acute diseases mainly through the massive release of inflammatory cytokines. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is the only Gram-negative bacterium known to produce a SAg (Y. pseudotuberculosis-derived mitogen [YPM]). This SAg binds major histocompatibility complex class II molecules on antigen-presenting cells and T cell receptors (TcR) bearing the variable region Vβ3, Vβ9, Vβ13.1, or Vβ13.2 (in humans) and Vβ7 or Vβ8 (in mice). We have previously shown that YPM exacerbates the virulence of Y. pseudotuberculosis in mice. With a view to understanding the mechanism of YPM's toxicity, we compared the immune response in BALB/c mice infected with a YPM-producing Y. pseudotuberculosis or the corresponding isogenic, SAg-deficient mutant. Five days after infection, we observed strong CD4+ Vβ7+ T cell expansion and marked interleukin-4 (IL-4) production in mice inoculated with SAg-producing Y. pseudotuberculosis. These phenomena were correlated with the activation of ypm gene transcription in liver and spleen. A transcriptomic analysis revealed that the presence of YPM also increased expression of granzyme and perforin genes in the host's liver and spleen. This expression was attributed to a CD4+ T cell subset, rather than to natural killer T (NKT) cells that display a TcR with a Vβ region that is potentially recognized by YPM. Increased production of cytotoxic molecules was correlated with hepatotoxicity, as demonstrated by an increase in plasma alanine aminotransferase activity. Our results demonstrate that YPM activates a potentially hepatotoxic CD4+ T cell population.
Ag presentation to CD8+ T cells often commences immediately after infection, which facilitates their rapid expansion and control of infection. Subsequently, the primed cells undergo rapid contraction. We report that this paradigm is not followed during infection with virulent Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhimurium (ST), an intracellular bacterium that replicates within phagosomes of infected cells. Although susceptible mice die rapidly (~7 days), resistant mice (129×1SvJ) harbor a chronic infection lasting ~60–90 days. Using rOVA-expressing ST (ST-OVA), we show that T cell priming is considerably delayed in the resistant mice. CD8+ T cells that are induced during ST-OVA infection undergo delayed expansion, which peaks around day 21, and is followed by protracted contraction. Initially, ST-OVA induces a small population of cycling central phenotype (CD62LhighIL-7RαhighCD44high) CD8+ T cells. However, by day 14–21, majority of the primed CD8+ T cells display an effector phenotype (CD62LlowIL-7RαlowCD44high). Subsequently, a progressive increase in the numbers of effector memory phenotype cells (CD62LlowIL-7RαhighCD44high) occurs. This differentiation program remained unchanged after accelerated removal of the pathogen with antibiotics, as majority of the primed cells displayed an effector memory phenotype even at 6 mo postinfection. Despite the chronic infection, CD8+ T cells induced by ST-OVA were functional as they exhibited killing ability and cytokine production. Importantly, even memory CD8+ T cells failed to undergo rapid expansion in response to ST-OVA infection, suggesting a delay in T cell priming during infection with virulent ST-OVA. Thus, phagosomal lifestyle may allow escape from host CD8+ T cell recognition, conferring a survival advantage to the pathogen.
PMID: 16849458 CAMSID: cams2219
Interleukin-22 (IL-22) has redundant, protective, or pathogenic functions during autoimmune, inflammatory, and infectious diseases. Here, we addressed the potential role of IL-22 in host defense and pathogenesis during lethal and sublethal respiratory H3N2 influenza A virus (IAV) infection. We show that IL-22, as well as factors associated with its production, are expressed in the lung tissue during the early phases of IAV infection. Our data indicate that retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor-γt (RORγt)-positive αβ and γδ T cells, as well as innate lymphoid cells, expressed enhanced Il22 transcripts as early as 2 days postinfection. During lethal or sublethal IAV infections, endogenous IL-22 played no role in the control of IAV replication and in the development of the IAV-specific CD8+ T cell response. During lethal infection, where wild-type (WT) mice succumbed to severe pneumonia, the lack of IL-22 did not accelerate or delay IAV-associated pathogenesis and animal death. In stark contrast, during sublethal IAV infection, IL-22-deficient animals had enhanced lung injuries and showed a lower airway epithelial integrity relative to WT littermates. Of importance, the protective effect of endogenous IL-22 in pulmonary damages was associated with a more controlled secondary bacterial infection. Indeed, after challenge with Streptococcus pneumoniae, IAV-experienced Il22−/− animals were more susceptible than WT controls in terms of survival rate and bacterial burden in the lungs. Together, IL-22 plays no major role during lethal influenza but is beneficial during sublethal H3N2 IAV infection, where it limits lung inflammation and subsequent bacterial superinfections.
Infections, microbe sampling and occasional leakage of commensal microbiota and their products across the intestinal epithelial cell layer represent a permanent challenge to the intestinal immune system. The production of reactive oxygen species by NADPH oxidase is thought to be a key element of defense. Patients suffering from chronic granulomatous disease are deficient in one of the subunits of NADPH oxidase. They display a high incidence of Crohn’s disease-like intestinal inflammation and are hyper-susceptible to infection with fungi and bacteria, including a 10-fold increased risk of Salmonellosis. It is not completely understood which steps of the infection process are affected by the NADPH oxidase deficiency. We employed a mouse model for Salmonella diarrhea to study how NADPH oxidase deficiency (Cybb−/−) affects microbe handling by the large intestinal mucosa. In this animal model, wild type S. Typhimurium causes pronounced enteropathy in wild type mice. In contrast, an avirulent S. Typhimurium mutant (S.Tmavir; invGsseD), which lacks virulence factors boosting trans-epithelial penetration and growth in the lamina propria, cannot cause enteropathy in wild type mice. We found that Cybb−/− mice are efficiently infected by S.Tmavir and develop enteropathy by day 4 post infection. Cell depletion experiments and infections in Cybb−/−Myd88−/− mice indicated that the S.Tmavir-inflicted disease in Cybb−/− mice hinges on CD11c+CX3CR1+ monocytic phagocytes mediating colonization of the cecal lamina propria and on Myd88-dependent proinflammatory immune responses. Interestingly, in mixed bone marrow chimeras a partial reconstitution of Cybb-proficiency in the bone marrow derived compartment was sufficient to ameliorate disease severity. Our data indicate that NADPH oxidase expression is of key importance for restricting the growth of S.Tmavir in the mucosal lamina propria. This provides important insights into microbe handling by the large intestinal mucosa and the role of NADPH oxidase in maintaining microbe-host mutualism at this exposed body surface.
Ligands of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) including Toll-like receptors (TLRs) stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses and are considered as potent adjuvants. Combinations of ligands might act in synergy to induce stronger and broader immune responses compared to stand-alone ligands. Alphaviruses stimulate endosomal TLRs 3, 7 and 8 as well as the cytoplasmic PRR MDA-5, resulting in induction of a strong type I interferon (IFN) response. Bacterial flagellin stimulates TLR5 and when delivered intracellularly the cytosolic PRR NLRC4, leading to secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Both alphaviruses and flagellin have independently been shown to act as adjuvants for antigen-specific antibody responses. Here, we hypothesized that alphavirus and flagellin would act in synergy when combined. We therefore cloned the Salmonella Typhimurium flagellin (FliC) gene into an alphavirus replicon and assessed its adjuvant activity on the antibody response against co-administered antigen. In mice immunized with recombinant alphavirus, antibody responses were greatly enhanced compared to soluble FliC or control alphavirus. Both IgG1 and IgG2a/c responses were increased, indicating an enhancement of both Th1 and Th2 type responses. The adjuvant activity of FliC-expressing alphavirus was diminished but not abolished in the absence of TLR5 or type I IFN signaling, suggesting the contribution of several signaling pathways and some synergistic and redundant activity of its components. Thus, we have created a recombinant adjuvant that stimulates multiple signaling pathways of innate immunity resulting in a strong and broad antibody response.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major cause of pneumonia in infants and the elderly. Innate defenses are essential to the control of pneumococcal infections, and deficient responses can trigger disease in susceptible individuals. Here we showed that flagellin can locally activate innate immunity and thereby increase the resistance to acute pneumonia. Flagellin mucosal treatment improved S. pneumoniae clearance in the lungs and promoted increased survival of infection. In addition, lung architecture was fully restored after the treatment of infected mice, indicating that flagellin allows the reestablishment of steady-state conditions. Using a flagellin mutant that is unable to signal through Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5), we established that TLR5 signaling is essential for protection. In the respiratory tract, flagellin induced neutrophil infiltration into airways and upregulated the expression of genes coding for interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), CXCL1, CXCL2, and CCL20. Using depleting antibodies, we demonstrated that neutrophils are major effectors of protection. Further, we found that B- and T-cell-deficient SCID mice clear S. pneumoniae challenge to the same extent as immunocompetent animals, suggesting that these cell populations are not required for flagellin-induced protection. In conclusion, this study emphasizes that mucosal stimulation of innate immunity by a TLR not naturally engaged by S. pneumoniae can increase the potential to cure pneumococcal pneumonia.
Salmonella enterica subspecies 1 serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) causes diarrhea and acute inflammation of the intestinal mucosa. The pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-17A and IL-17F are strongly induced in the infected mucosa but their contribution in driving the tissue inflammation is not understood. We have used the streptomycin mouse model to analyze the role of IL-17A and IL-17F and their cognate receptor IL-17RA in S. Typhimurium enterocolitis. Neutralization of IL-17A and IL-17F did not affect mucosal inflammation triggered by infection or spread of S. Typhimurium to systemic sites by 48 h p.i. Similarly, Il17ra−/− mice did not display any reduction in infection or inflammation by 12 h p.i. The same results were obtained using S. Typhimurium variants infecting via the TTSS1 type III secretion system, the TTSS1 effector SipA or the TTSS1 effector SopE. Moreover, the expression pattern of 45 genes encoding chemokines/cytokines (including CXCL1, CXCL2, IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-1α, IL-1β, IFNγ, CXCL-10, CXCL-9, IL-6, CCL3, CCL4) and antibacterial molecules was not affected by Il17ra deficiency by 12 h p.i. Thus, in spite of the strong increase in Il17a/Il17f mRNA in the infected mucosa, IL-17RA signaling seems to be dispensable for eliciting the acute disease. Future work will have to address whether this is attributable to redundancy in the cytokine signaling network.
Many enteropathogenic bacteria target the mammalian gut. The mechanisms protecting the host from infection are poorly understood. We have studied the protective functions of secretory antibodies (sIgA) and the microbiota, using a mouse model for S. typhimurium diarrhea. This pathogen is a common cause of diarrhea in humans world-wide. S. typhimurium (S. tmatt, sseD) causes a self-limiting gut infection in streptomycin-treated mice. After 40 days, all animals had overcome the disease, developed a sIgA response, and most had cleared the pathogen from the gut lumen. sIgA limited pathogen access to the mucosal surface and protected from gut inflammation in challenge infections. This protection was O-antigen specific, as demonstrated with pathogens lacking the S. typhimurium O-antigen (wbaP, S. enteritidis) and sIgA-deficient mice (TCRβ−/−δ−/−, JH−/−, IgA−/−, pIgR−/−). Surprisingly, sIgA-deficiency did not affect the kinetics of pathogen clearance from the gut lumen. Instead, this was mediated by the microbiota. This was confirmed using ‘L-mice’ which harbor a low complexity gut flora, lack colonization resistance and develop a normal sIgA response, but fail to clear S. tmatt from the gut lumen. In these mice, pathogen clearance was achieved by transferring a normal complex microbiota. Thus, besides colonization resistance ( = pathogen blockage by an intact microbiota), the microbiota mediates a second, novel protective function, i.e. pathogen clearance. Here, the normal microbiota re-grows from a state of depletion and disturbed composition and gradually clears even very high pathogen loads from the gut lumen, a site inaccessible to most “classical” immune effector mechanisms. In conclusion, sIgA and microbiota serve complementary protective functions. The microbiota confers colonization resistance and mediates pathogen clearance in primary infections, while sIgA protects from disease if the host re-encounters the same pathogen. This has implications for curing S. typhimurium diarrhea and for preventing transmission.
Numerous pathogens infect the gut. Protection against these infections is mediated by mucosal immune defenses including secreted IgA as well as by the competing intestinal microbiota. However, so far the relative importance of these two different defense mechanisms remains unclear. We addressed this question using the example of non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) gut infections which can be spread in stool of infected patients over long periods of time. We used a mouse model to reveal that the intestinal microbiota and the adaptive immune system hold different but complementary functions in fighting NTS infections. A primary Salmonella infection disrupts the normal microbiota and elicits Salmonella-specific sIgA. sIgA prevents disease when the animal is infected with NTS for a second time. However, sIgA was dispensable for pathogen clearance from the gut. Instead, this was mediated by the microbiota. By re-establishing its normal density and composition, the microbiota was necessary and sufficient for terminating long-term fecal Salmonella excretion. This establishes a novel paradigm: The microbiota clears the pathogen from the gut lumen, while sIgA protects from disease upon re-infection with the same pathogen. This has implications for the evolutionary role of sIgA responses as well as for developing microbiota-based therapies for curing infected patients.
The World Health Organization estimates that lower respiratory tract infections (excluding tuberculosis) account for ∼35% of all deaths caused by infectious diseases. In many cases, the cause of death may be caused by multiple pathogens, e.g., the life-threatening bacterial pneumonia observed in patients infected with influenza virus. The ability to evolve more efficient immunity on each successive encounter with antigen is the hallmark of the adaptive immune response. However, in the absence of cross-reactive T and B cell epitopes, one lung infection can modify immunity and pathology to the next for extended periods of time. We now report for the first time that this phenomenon is mediated by a sustained desensitization of lung sentinel cells to Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands; this is an effect that lasts for several months after resolution of influenza or respiratory syncytial virus infection and is associated with reduced chemokine production and NF-κB activation in alveolar macrophages. Although such desensitization may be beneficial in alleviating overall immunopathology, the reduced neutrophil recruitment correlates with heightened bacterial load during secondary respiratory infection. Our data therefore suggests that post-viral desensitization to TLR signals may be one possible contributor to the common secondary bacterial pneumonia associated with pandemic and seasonal influenza infection.
In mammals, tissue-specific sets of pattern-recognition molecules, including Nod-like receptors (NLR), enable concomitant and sequential detection of microbial-associated molecular patterns from both the extracellular and intracellular microenvironment. Repressing and de-repressing the cytosolic surveillance machinery contributes to vital immune homeostasis and protective responses within specific tissues. Conversely, defective biology of NLR drives the development of recurrent infectious, autoimmune and/or inflammatory diseases by failing to mount barrier functions against pathogens, to tolerate commensals, and/or to instruct the adaptive immune response against microbes. Better decoding microbial strategies that are evolved to circumvent NLR sensing will provide clues for the development of rational therapies aimed at curing and/or preventing common and emerging immunopathologies.
Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) functions as a homodimer. In cell extracts, iNOS molecules partition both in cytosolic and particulate fractions, indicating that iNOS exist as soluble and membrane associated forms. In this study, iNOS features were investigated in human intestinal epithelial cells stimulated with cytokines and in duodenum from mice exposed to flagellin. Our experiments indicate that iNOS is mainly associated to the particulate fraction of cell extracts. Confocal microscopy showed a preferential localization of iNOS at the apical pole of intestinal epithelial cells. In particulate fractions, iNOS dimers were more abundant than in the cytosolic fraction. Similar observations were done in mouse duodenum samples. These results suggest that, in epithelial cells, iNOS activity is regulated by localization-dependent processes.
Inducible nitric oxide synthase; Subcellular distribution; Dimerization; Specific activity; Intestinal epithelial cells; Animals; Cells, Cultured; Dimerization; Humans; Intestinal Mucosa; enzymology; ultrastructure; Mice; Mice, Inbred C57BL; Nitric Oxide Synthase; analysis; chemistry; metabolism; Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
Disruption of the intestinal homeostasis and tolerance towards the resident microbiota is a major mechanism involved in the development of inflammatory bowel disease. While some bacteria are inducers of disease, others, known as probiotics, are able to reduce inflammation. Because dendritic cells (DCs) play a central role in regulating immune responses and in inducing tolerance, we investigated their role in the anti-inflammatory potential of probiotic lactic acid bacteria.
Selected LAB strains, while efficiently taken up by DCs in vitro, induced a partial maturation of the cells. Transfer of probiotic-treated DCs conferred protection against 2, 4, 6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced colitis. Protection was associated with a reduction of inflammatory scores and colonic expression of pro-inflammatory genes, while a high local expression of the immunoregulatory enzyme indolamine 2, 3 dioxgenase (IDO) was observed. The preventive effect of probiotic-pulsed DCs required not only MyD88-, TLR2- and NOD2-dependent signaling but also the induction of CD4+ CD25+ regulatory cells in an IL-10-independent pathway.
Altogether, these results suggest that selected probiotics can stimulate DC regulatory functions by targeting specific pattern-recognition receptors and pathways. The results not only emphasize the role of DCs in probiotic immune interactions, but indicate a possible role in immune-intervention therapy for IBD.
Activation of interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor (IL-1R), Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), and TLR4 triggers NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent signaling, thereby initiating immune responses. Tollip has been implicated as a negative regulator of NF-κB signaling triggered by these receptors in in vitro studies. Here, deficient mice were used to determine the physiological contribution of Tollip to immunity. NF-κB, as well as MAPK, signaling appeared normal in Tollip-deficient cells stimulated with IL-1β or the TLR4 ligand lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Similarly, IL-1β- and TLR-driven activation of dendritic cells and lymphocytes was indistinguishable from wild-type cells. In contrast, the production of the proinflammatory cytokines, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha was significantly reduced after IL-1β and LPS treatment at low doses but not at lethal doses of LPS. Tollip therefore controls the magnitude of inflammatory cytokine production in response to IL-1β and LPS.
Rotavirus is the major cause of diarrhea among young infants in both humans and animals. Immune protection of newborns by vaccination is difficult to achieve since there is not enough time to mount an immune response before exposure to the virus. We have designed a vaccination strategy mediating transfer of neutralizing antibodies from the mother to the offspring during pregnancy and/or lactation. Adult female mice were nasally immunized with virus-like particles (VLPs) made of viral proteins VP2 and 6 (VLP2/6) or VP 2, 6, and 7 (VLP2/6/7) derived from the RF rotavirus strain in the presence or absence of cholera toxin. Both vaccines elicited serum and milk antibodies against the respective VPs. Four days after parturition, suckling pups were challenged orally with RF rotavirus. Pups from mothers immunized with VLP2/6/7 but not VLP2/6 were protected against rotavirus diarrhea, indicating that VP7 plays a key role in protection. Protection was mediated by milk rather than serum antibodies, and mucosal adjuvants were not required. In conclusion, VLPs containing VP7 administered nasally to mothers represent a promising vaccine candidate for the protection of suckling newborns against rotavirus-induced diarrhea, even in the absence of a mucosal adjuvant.
Bacillus anthracis secretes a lethal toxin composed of two proteins, the lethal factor (LF) and the protective antigen (PA), which interact within the host or in vitro at the surfaces of eukaryotic cells. Immunization with attenuated B. anthracis strains induces an antibody response against PA and LF. The LF-specific response is potentiated by the binding of LF to PA. In this study, we investigated the capacity of PA to increase the antibody response against a foreign antigen. We constructed a chimeric gene encoding the PA-binding part of LF (LF254) fused to the C fragment of tetanus toxin (ToxC). The construct was introduced by allelic exchange into the locus encoding LF. Two recombinant B. anthracis strains secreting the hybrid protein LF254-ToxC were generated, one in a PA-producing background and the other in a PA-deficient background. Mice were immunized with spores of the strains, and the humoral response and protection against tetanus toxin were assessed. The B. anthracis strain producing both PA and LF254-ToxC induced significantly higher antibody titers and provided better protection against a lethal challenge with tetanus toxin than did its PA-deficient counterpart. Thus, PA is able to potentiate protective immunity against a heterologous antigen, demonstrating the potential of B. anthracis recombinant strains for use as live vaccine vehicles.
We investigated the role of the functional domains of anthrax toxins during infection. Three proteins produced by Bacillus anthracis, the protective antigen (PA), the lethal factor (LF), and the edema factor (EF), combine in pairs to produce the lethal (PA+LF) and edema (PA+EF) toxins. A genetic strategy was developed to introduce by allelic exchange specific point mutations or in-frame deletions into B. anthracis toxin genes, thereby impairing either LF metalloprotease or EF adenylate cyclase activity or PA functional domains. In vivo effects of toxin mutations were analyzed in an experimental infection of mice. A tight correlation was observed between the properties of anthrax toxins delivered in vivo and their in vitro activities. The synergic effects of the lethal and edema toxins resulted purely from their enzymatic activities, suggesting that in vivo these toxins may act together. The PA-dependent antibody response to LF induced by immunization with live B. anthracis was used to follow the in vivo interaction of LF and PA. We found that the binding of LF to PA in vivo was necessary and sufficient for a strong antibody response against LF, whereas neither LF activity nor binding of lethal toxin complex to the cell surface was required. Mutant PA proteins were cleaved in mice sera. Thus, our data provide evidence that, during anthrax infection, PA may interact with LF before binding to the cell receptor. Immunoprotection studies indicated that the strain producing detoxified LF and EF, isogenic to the current live vaccine Sterne strain, is a safe candidate for use as a vaccine against anthrax.
Protective antigen (PA) is the common receptor-binding component of the two anthrax toxins. We investigated the involvement of the PA carboxy-terminal domain in the interaction of the protein with cells. A deletion resulting in removal of the entire carboxy-terminal domain of PA (PA608) or part of an exposed loop of 19 amino acids (703 to 722) present within this domain was introduced into the pag gene. PA608 did not induce the lethal-factor (LF)-mediated cytotoxic effect on macrophages because it did not bind to the receptor. In contrast, PA711- and PA705-harboring lethal toxins (9- and 16-amino-acid deletions in the loop, starting after positions 711 and 705, respectively) were 10 times less cytotoxic than wild-type PA. After cleavage by trypsin, the mutant PA proteins formed heptamers and bound LF. The capacity of PA711 and PA705 to interact with cells was 1/10 that of wild-type PA. In conclusion, truncation of the carboxy-terminal domain or deletions in the exposed loop resulted in PA that was less cytotoxic or nontoxic because the mutated proteins did not efficiently bind to the receptor.