Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial pathogen and the etiologic agent of blinding trachoma. Intracellular signaling pathways leading to host cell inflammation and innate immunity to Chlamydia include those mediated by Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and nucleotide binding oligomerization domain 1 (Nod1) protein. In epithelial cells, TLR-dependent signaling contributes to local immune responses via induction of inflammatory mediators. There is evidence that TLR3, TLR4, and, particularly, TLR2 are critical for Chlamydia-mediated host cell activation and pathology. Despite the importance of TLR2, major chlamydial TLR2 antigens have not been identified so far. Numerous bacterial porins are known TLR2 agonists, i.e., porins from Neisseriae, Shigella, Salmonella, Haemophilus influenzae, and Fusobacterium nucleatum, which share structural and functional similarities with the chlamydial major outer membrane protein (MOMP), a strong antigen candidate for a potential vaccine against C. trachomatis. We describe the ability of purified, detergent-free MOMP to signal via TLR2 in vitro in TLR-overexpressing cells and TLR2-competent human reproductive tract epithelial cell lines. Using MOMP formed in pure protein micelles (proteosomes), we show the induction of TLR2-dependent interleukin-8 (IL-8) and IL-6 secretion in vitro, the involvement of TLR1 as a TLR2 coreceptor, and the activation of both NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase intracellular pathways. Interestingly, MOMP proteosomes induce cytokine secretion in endocervical epithelial cells (End/E6E7) but not in urethral epithelial cells (THUECs). A detailed understanding of the TLR2-dependent molecular mechanisms that characterize the effect of MOMP proteosomes on host cells may provide new insights for its successful development as an immunotherapeutic target against Chlamydia.
The present study was undertaken to test the efficacy of immunization with the native major outer membrane protein (nMOMP) of C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) serovar in combination with a novel immunostimulatory adjuvant consisting of CpG oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) linked to the nontoxic B subunit of cholera toxin (CTB-CpG) to elicit a protective immune response to C. trachomatis. High levels of Chlamydia specific IgG antibodies were detected in the sera from BALB/c mice immunized intramuscularly and subcutaneously (i.m.+s.c.) with the nMOMP/CTB-CpG vaccine or with nMOMP adjuvanted with a mixture of CT and CpG ODN (CT + CpG). Further, these immunization schemes gave rise to significant T-cell mediated Chlamydia-specific immune responses. No Chlamydia-specific humoral or cell-mediated immune responses were detected in the control mice vaccinated with ovalbumin together with either CTB-CpG or CT + CpG. Following an intranasal challenge with C. trachomatis the groups of mice immunized with nMOMP plus CTB-CpG, CT + CpG or live C. trachomatis were found to be protected based on their change in body weight and lung weight as well as number of inclusion forming unit recovered from the lungs, as compared with control groups immunized with ovalbumin plus either adjuvants. Interestingly, IFN-γ-producing CD4+, but not CD8+, T-cells showed a significant correlation with the outcomes of the challenge. In conclusion, nMOMP in combination with the novel adjuvant CTB-CpG elicited a significant antigen specific antibody and cell-mediated immune responses as well as protection against a pulmonary challenge with C. trachomatis.
Chlamydia trachomatis; vaccine; CTB-CpG adjuvant
Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial pathogen in the World and there is an urgent need for a vaccine to prevent these infections. To determine what type of adjuvant can better enhance the immunogenicity of a Chlamydia vaccine, we formulated the recombinant major outer membrane protein (Ct-rMOMP) with several ligands for Toll-like receptor (TLR) and the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD) including Pam2CSK4 (TLR2/TLR6), Poly (I:C) (TLR3), monophosphoryl lipid A (TLR4), flagellin (TLR5), imiquimod R837 (TLR7), imidazoquinoline R848 (TRL7/8), CpG-1826 (TLR9), M-Tri-DAP (NOD1/NOD2) and muramyldipeptide (NOD2). Groups of female BALB/c mice were immunized intramuscularly (i.m.) three times with the Ct-rMOMP and each one of those adjuvants. Four weeks after the last immunization the mice were challenged intranasally (i.n.) with 104 C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) inclusion forming units (IFU). As negative antigen controls mice were immunized with the Neisseria gonorrhoeae recombinant porin B (Ng-rPorB) and the same adjuvants. As a positive vaccine control mice were inoculated i.n. with 104 IFU of MoPn. The humoral and cell mediated immune responses were determined the day before the challenge. Following the challenge the mice were weighed daily and, at 10 days post-challenge (p.c.), they were euthanized, their lungs weighted and the number of IFU in the lungs counted. As determined by the IgG2a/IgG1 ratio in the sera, mice immunized with Ct-rMOMP + Pam2CSK4 showed a strong Th2 biased humoral immune response. Furthermore, these mice develop a robust cellular immune response with high Chlamydia-specific T cell proliferation and levels of IFN-γ production. In addition, based on changes in body weight, weight of the lungs and number of IFU recovered from the lungs, the mice immunized with Ct-rMOMP + Pam2CSK4, were better protected against the i.n. challenge than any group of mice immunized with Ct-rMOMP and the other adjuvants. In conclusion, Pam2CSK4 should be evaluated as a candidate adjuvant for a C. trachomatis vaccine.
Chlamydia trachomatis; vaccine; mice; immunization; Toll-like receptors; Pam2CSK4
A vaccine formulated with the Chlamydia muridarum recombinant major outer membrane protein, plus the adjuvants CpG and Montanide, was tested for its ability to protect BALB/c mice against a vaginal challenge. Mice were immunized by mucosal [intravaginal (i.vag.) plus colonic (col.), or intranasal (i.n.) plus sublingual (s.l.)], or systemic [intramuscular (i.m.) plus subcutaneous (s.c.)] routes, and a combination of mucosal priming/systemic boosting routes. A negative control group was vaccinated with the Neisseria gonorrhoeae porin B (Ng-rPorB) and a positive control group was inoculated in the nares with live Chlamydia. The strongest Chlamydia-specific humoral and cell-mediated immune responses were observed in the groups immunized by a combination of mucosal and systemic routes. Following the vaginal challenge, groups immunized using mucosal priming followed by systemic immunization had a significant decrease in the number of mice with positive vaginal cultures. For example, of the mice immunized i.n./s.l.+i.m./s.c., 24% had positive cultures during the six weeks of the experiment versus 69% for the negative control group immunized with Ng-rPorB (p<0.05). Similarly, the groups of mice primed by the mucosal routes and boosted by the systemic routes had significantly less IFU in the vaginal cultures when compared to the Ng-rPorB animals (P<0.05). These combination groups were also protected against infertility. The two groups had fertility rates of 100% (i.n./s.l.+i.m./s.c.) and 81% (i.vag./col.+i.m./s.c.) equivalent to the positive-control group immunized with live Chlamydia (100% fertility; P>0.05). These results show the importance of the schedule and routes of vaccination and represent the first study to show protection against infertility by a Chlamydia recombinant subunit vaccine.
Chlamydia; rMOMP; immunization; mucosal; mice; infertility
The native major outer membrane protein (nMOMP) from Chlamydia was purified in its trimeric form using the zwitterionic detergent Z3-14. In aliquots from this preparation, Z3-14 was exchanged for amphipol (APol) A8-35. CD analysis showed that trapping with A8-35 improved the thermostability of nMOMP without affecting its secondary structure. Recombinant MOMP (rMOMP) was also formulated with Z3-14 or A8-35. Four groups of mice were vaccinated with nMOMP/Z3-14, nMOMP/A8-35, rMOMP/Z3-14 or rMOMP/A8-35 using CpG and Montanide as adjuvants. A positive control group was inoculated intranasally with live Chlamydia and a negative control group with culture medium. Mice were challenged intranasally with live Chlamydia and protection was assessed based on changes in body weight, the weight of the lungs and the number of chlamydial inclusion forming units recovered from the lungs 10 days after the challenge. Overall, vaccines formulated with nMOMP elicited better protection than those using rMOMP. Furthermore, the protection afforded by nMOMP/A8-35 was more robust than that achieved with nMOMP/Z3-14. In contrast, no differences in protection were observed between rMOMP/Z3-14 and rMOMP/A8-35 preparations. These findings suggest that the higher protection conferred by nMOMP/A8-35 complexes most likely results from a better preservation of the native structure of MOMP and/or from a more efficient presentation of the antigen to the immune system, rather than from an adjuvant effect of the amphipol. Thus, amphipols can be used in vaccine formulations to stabilize a membrane-protein component and enhance its immunogenicity.
Amphipols; detergents; Chlamydia; thermal stability; major outer membrane protein; vaccine protection
To determine the ability of a vaccine formulated with the genital Chlamydia trachomatis, serovar F, native major outer membrane protein (Ct-F-nMOMP), to induce systemic and mucosal immune responses, rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) were immunized three times by the intramuscular (i.m.) and subcutaneous (s.c.) routes using CpG-2395 and Montanide ISA 720 VG, as adjuvants. As controls, another group of M. mulatta was immunized with ovalbumin instead of Ct-F-nMOMP using the same formulation and routes. High levels of Chlamydia-specific IgG and IgA antibodies were detected in plasma, vaginal washes, tears, saliva, and stools from the Ct-F-nMOMP immunized animals. Also, high neutralizing antibody titers were detected in the plasma from these animals. Monkeys immunized with ovalbumin had no detectable Chlamydia-specific antibodies. Furthermore, as measured by a lymphoproliferative assay, significant Chlamydia-specific cell-mediated immune responses were detected in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from the rhesus macaques vaccinated with Ct-F-nMOMP when compared with the animals immunized with ovalbumin. In addition, the levels of two Th1 cytokines, IFN-γ and TNF-α, were significantly higher in the animals immunized with Ct-F-nMOMP when compared with those from the monkeys immunized with ovalbumin. To our knowledge, this is the first time that mucosal and systemic immune responses have been investigated in a nonhuman primate model using a subunit vaccine from a human genital C. trachomatis serovar.
Chlamydia trachomatis; vaccine; Macaca mulatta; nonhuman primates; systemic and mucosal immune responses
Two groups of 50 BALB/c male mice were immunized with live Chlamydia trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) using the intranasal (i.n.) or the meatus urethra (intraurethral: i.u.) routes. As a control group, 100 male mice were sham-immunized in parallel. Both groups of animals vaccinated with live organisms developed strong Chlamydia-specific humoral and cell mediated immune responses. Based on the IgG2a/IgG1 ratio and the levels of IFN-γ both groups mounted a Th1 immune response. At six weeks following the immunization, all mice were challenged in the meatus urethra. The urethra, urinary bladder, testes and epididymides were harvested at weekly intervals and tested for the presence of C. trachomatis. Based on the culture results from these four organs both groups of Chlamydia-immunized mice showed significant protection. In the group immunized i.u., 10% (5/50) had positive cultures, while in the group immunized i.n. 28% (14/50) had positive cultures during the 5 weeks of observation. In contrast, in the sham-immunized animals 47% (47/100) had positive cultures (P<0.005) during the study period. In addition, the number of positive organs, the length of time that the animal had positive cultures, and the total number of inclusion forming units (IFU) recovered were overall significantly lower in the i.u. or i.n. groups in comparison with the sham-immunized animals. However, in relation to the i.u. immunized group, the protection elicited in the i.n. group was delayed and not as robust. In conclusion, immunization of mice in the meatus urethra may provide the gold standard for testing Chlamydia vaccines in a male model.
Chlamydia; vaccines; males; mice
Chlamydia trachomatis causes respiratory and sexually transmitted infections. Here, we tested a vaccine formulated with the recombinant major outer membrane protein from C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (CT-MoPn) for its ability to protect mice against an intranasal (i.n.) challenge. The adjuvants CpG and Montanide were used for systemic routes, intramuscular (i.m.) and subcutaneous (s.c.), and cholera toxin for mucosal routes, sublingual (s.l.) and colonic (c.l.). Mucosal immunizations were performed either alone or in combination with systemic routes. Mice inoculated i.n. with 104 inclusion-forming units (IFU) of CT-MoPn served as a positive control and the Neisseria gonorrhoeae recombinant porin B (Ng-rPorB) as the negative antigen control. Immunized animals were challenged i.n. with 104 IFU of CT-MoPn. Following immunization the combination groups showed high chlamydial serum IgG titers (s.l.+i.m.+s.c. 25,600; c.l+i.m.+s.c. 102,400) and the IgG2a/IgG1 ratios indicated a Th1 response. Following the i.n. challenge the s.l./i.m.+s.c. group showed the best protection as demonstrated by an increase in body weight of 0.3% over the 10 day course of infection. A statistically significant difference was found when compared with the Ng-rPorB immunized animals that had lost 20% of their original body weight (P < 0.05). In addition, the repeated measures ANOVA test showed significant difference in body weight change for the combined immunized groups versus their mucosal counterparts and also the systemic immunized group. A statistically significant difference (P < 0.05) was also observed in the median number of IFUs recovered from the lungs when the s.l.+i.m.+s.c. (2.8 × 106 ) and c.l.+i.m.+s.c. (3.4 × 106) groups where compared to their respective mucosal only groups (s.l.: 61.9 × 106 and c.l: 136.2 × 106) and the control Ng-rPorB immunized mice (198.2 × 106) (P < 0.05). In conclusion, a combined systemic plus mucosal vaccination provides better protection against a respiratory challenge with C. trachomatis than either systemic or mucosal immunizations alone.
Chlamydia trachomatis; recombinant major outer membrane proteins; systemic and mucosal immunization; mice; respiratory infections; vaccine
To determine the role of maternal immunity in protecting newborn mice against a C. trachomatis infection female BALB/c mice were immunized intranasally (i.n.) with 104 inclusion forming units (IFU) of the C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis biovar (MoPn). As a control, another group of female mice was sham-immunized i.n. with HeLa cell extracts. Immunized animals mounted strong immune responses as evidenced by high Chlamydia-specific antibody titers in serum and milk. Newborn mice born from immunized and sham-immunized dams were challenged i.n. with 103 IFU of MoPn at 2-post natal days (PND). Following inoculation, newborn mice were euthanized at 7-PND and 18-PND and the lungs, spleen and intestine were cultured for Chlamydia. Overall, no significant differences were observed between the mice born from and fed by immunized dams and mice born from and fed by sham-immunized dams. Of the mice born from immunized dams, 75% and 25% had positive lung cultures at 7-PND and 18-PND, respectively. Of the mice born from sham-immunized dams, 82% and 50% had positive lung cultures for those same days. When the number of IFU recovered from the lungs and spleens were compared between the two groups no significant differences were observed. However, when the number of IFU recovered from the small intestine were compared, significant differences were observed between the two groups of newborn mice (2×105 versus 32×106 at 7-PND and 9.2×106 versus 85×106 at 18-PND). In conclusion, maternal immunity plays a limited role in protecting newborn mice against a Chlamydia infection.
maternal immunity; Chlamydia trachomatis; newborn mice; intranasal infection
Vaginal microbicides with activity towards organisms that cause sexually transmitted infections have been proposed as a strategy to reduce transmission. Small-molecule inhibitors of Chlamydia trachomatis serovar D belonging to the class of salicylidene acylhydrazides (INPs) have been shown to work through a mechanism that involves iron restriction. Expanding on this work, ten INPs were tested against a lymphogranuloma venereum strain of C. trachomatis serovar L2, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and hydrogen peroxide-producing Lactobacillus crispatus and Lactobacillus jensenii. Seven INPs had minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimal bactericidal concentrations of <50 µM towards C. trachomatis L2. Three INPs had an MIC <12.5 µM against N. gonorrhoeae. Inhibition by was reversed by iron, holo-transferrin and holo-lactoferrin but not by the iron-poor forms of these compounds. The compounds exhibited no bactericidal activity toward Lactobacillus. The INPs were not cytotoxic to HeLa 229 cells. When INP 0341 was tested in a mouse model of a Chlamydia vaginal infection there was a significant reduction in the number of mice shedding C. trachomatis up to 4 days after infection (P < 0.01). In summary, select INPs are promising vaginal microbicide candidates as they inhibit the growth of two common sexually transmitted organisms in vitro, are active in a mouse model against C. trachomatis, are not cytotoxic and do not inhibit organisms that compose the normal vaginal flora.
Vaginal microbicide; Sexually transmitted infections; Chlamydia trachomatis; LGV; Neisseria gonorrhoeae
Chlamydia trachomatis infections can lead to severe chronic complications, including trachoma, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. The only effective approach to disease control is vaccination. The goal of this work was to identify new potential vaccine candidates through a proteomics approach. We constructed a protein chip array (Antigen Discovery, Inc.) by expressing the open reading frames (ORFs) from C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) genomic and plasmid DNA and tested it with serum samples from MoPn-immunized mice. Two groups of BALB/c female mice were immunized either intranasally or intravaginally with live elementary bodies (EB). Another two groups were immunized by a combination of the intramuscular and subcutaneous routes with UV-treated EB (UV-EB), using either CpG and Montanide as adjuvants to favor a Th1 response or alum to elicit a Th2 response. Serum samples collected at regular intervals postimmunization were tested in the proteome array. The microarray included the expression products of 909 proteins from a total of 921 ORFs of the Chlamydia MoPn genome and plasmid. A total of 185 immunodominant proteins elicited an early and sustained antibody response in the mice immunized with live EB, and of these, 71 were also recognized by the sera from mice immunized with UV-EB. The reactive antigens included some proteins that were previously described as immunogenic, such as the major outer membrane protein, OmpB, Hsp60, and IncA and proteins from the type III secretion system. In addition, we identified in mice several new immunogens, including 75 hypothetical proteins. In summary, we have identified a new group of immunodominant chlamydial proteins that can be tested for their ability to induce protection.
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted pathogen in the world. In order to control this infection, there is an urgent need to formulate a vaccine. Identification of protective antigens is required to implement a subunit vaccine. To identify potential antigen vaccine candidates, three strains of mice, BALB/c, C3H/HeN and C57BL/6, were inoculated with live and inactivated C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) by different routes of immunization. Using a protein microarray, serum samples collected after immunization were tested for the presence of antibodies against specific chlamydial antigens. A total of 225 open reading frames (ORF) of the C. trachomatis genome were cloned, expressed, and printed in the microarray. Using this protein microarray, a total of seven C. trachomatis dominant antigens were identified (TC0052, TC0189, TC0582, TC0660, TC0726, TC0816 and, TC0828) as recognized by IgG antibodies from all three strains of animals after immunization. In addition, the microarray was probed to determine if the antibody response exhibited a Th1 or Th2 bias. Animals immunized with live organisms mounted a predominant Th1 response against most of the chlamydial antigens while mice immunized with inactivated Chlamydia mounted a Th2-biased response. In conclusion, using a high throughput protein microarray we have identified a set of novel proteins that can be tested for their ability to protect against a chlamydial infection.
Native Chlamydia trachomatis mouse pneumonitis major outer membrane protein (nMOMP) induces effective protection against genital infection in a mouse challenge model. The conformation of nMOMP is crucial to confer this protective immunity. To achieve a better understanding of the conformational behavior and stability of nMOMP, a number of spectroscopic techniques are employed to characterize the secondary structure (circular dichroism), tertiary structure (intrinsic fluorescence) and aggregation properties (static light scattering and optical density) as a function of pH (3-8) and temperature (10-87.5°C). The data are summarized in an empirical phase diagram (EPD) which demonstrates that the thermal stability of nMOMP is strongly pH-dependent. Three distinctive regions are seen in the EPD. Below the major thermal transition regions, nMOMP remains in its native conformation over the pH range of 3-8. Above the thermal transitions, nMOMP appears in two different structurally altered states; one at pH 3-5 and the other at pH 6-8. The EPD shows that the highest thermal transition point (~ 65°C) of nMOMP is near pH 6. Several potential excipients such as arginine, sodium citrate, Brij 35, sucrose and guanidine are also selected to evaluate their effects on the stability of nMOMP. These particular compounds increase the aggregation onset temperature of nMOMP by more than 10°C, without affecting its secondary and tertiary structure. These results should help formulate a vaccine using a recombinant MOMP.
Chlamydia; MOMP; Biophysical Characterization; Stabilization
To compare the ability of a native and a recombinant preparation of the major outer membrane protein of Chlamydia trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn; Ct-nMOMP and Ct-rMOMP) to protect against an intranasal (i.n.) challenge, BALB/c mice were vaccinated by the intramuscular (i.m.) and subcutaneous (s.c.) routes using CpG-1826 and Montanide ISA 720 as adjuvants. Animals inoculated i.n. with live elementary bodies (EB) of Chlamydia served as a positive control. Negative control groups were immunized with either Neisseria gonorrhoeae recombinant porin B (Ng-rPorB) or with minimal essential medium (MEM-0). Mice immunized with Ct-rMOMP, Ct-nMOMP and EB developed a strong immune response as shown by high levels of Chlamydia specific antibodies in serum and a strong T-cell lymphoproliferative response. Following the i.n. challenge with 104 inclusion forming units (IFU) of C. trachomatis. mice immunized with Ct-nMOMP or Ct-rMOMP lost significantly less weight than the negative control animals immunized with Ng-rPorB or MEM-0 (P<0.05). However, mice vaccinated with the Ct-nMOMP lost less weight than those immunized with the Ct-rMOMP (P<0.05). Mice were euthanized at 10 days following the challenge, their lungs weighed and the number of IFU of Chlamydia determined. Based on the lung weight and number of IFU recovered, significant protection was observed in the groups of mice immunized with both Ct-nMOMP and the Ct-rMOMP (P<0.05). Nevertheless, significantly better protection was achieved with the Ct-nMOMP in comparison with the Ct-rMOMP (P<0.05). In conclusion, vaccination with a preparation of the nMOMP elicited a more robust protection than immunization with rMOMP suggesting that the conformational structure of MOMP is critical for inducing strong protection.
Chlamydia trachomatis; vaccines; major outer membrane protein; mice
A vaccine is likely the most effective strategy for controlling human chlamydial infections. Recent studies have shown immunization with Chlamydia muridarum major outer membrane protein (MOMP) can induce significant protection against infection and disease in mice if its native trimeric structure is preserved (nMOMP). The objective of this study was to investigate the immunogenicity and vaccine efficacy of Chlamydia trachomatis nMOMP in a non-human primate trachoma model. Cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) were immunized systemically with nMOMP and monkeys were challenged ocularly. Immunization induced high serum IgG and IgA ELISA antibody titers, with antibodies displaying high strain-specific neutralizing activity. The PBMC of immunized monkeys produced a broadly cross-reactive, antigen-specific IFN-γ response equivalent to that induced by experimental infection. Immunized monkeys exhibited a highly significant decrease in infectious burden during the early peak shedding periods (days 3-14). However, at later time points they exhibited no difference from control animals in either burden or duration of infection. Immunization had no effect on the progression of ocular disease. These results show that systemically administered nMOMP is highly immunogenic in non-human primates and elicits partially protective immunity against ocular chlamydial challenge. This is the first time a subunit vaccine has shown a marked, significant reduction in ocular shedding in non-human primates. A partially protective vaccine, particularly one that significantly reduces infectious burden following primary infection of children, could interrupt the natural trachoma re-infection cycle. This could have a beneficial effect on the transmission between children and sensitized adults which drives blinding inflammatory disease.
Vaccination; Mucosa; Bacterial; Antigens/Peptides/Epitopes; Other Animals
The pathogenesis of an infection of the male genitourinary tract of mice with a human serovar of Chlamydia trachomatis has not been characterized. To establish a new model, we inoculated C3H/HeN (H-2k) mice in the meatus urethra with C. trachomatis serovar D. To determine the 50% infectious dose (ID50), male mice were inoculated with doses ranging from 102 to 106 inclusion-forming units (IFU). The mice were euthanized 10 days post infection (p.i.), and the urethra, bladder, epididimydes, and testes were cultured for Chlamydia. Positive cultures were obtained from the urethra, urinary bladder, and epididimydes, and the ID50 was determined to be 5 × 104 IFU/mouse. Subsequently, to characterize the course of the infection, wild-type (WT) and C3H animals with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID animals) were inoculated with 106 IFU/mouse (20 times the ID50). In the WT mice, the infection peaked in the second week, and by 42 days p.i., it was cleared. In contrast, most of the SCID mice continued to have positive cultures at 60 days p.i. C. trachomatis-specific antibodies were first detected in WT animals' sera at 21 days p.i. and increased until 42 days p.i. The immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a) titers were 32-fold higher than those of IgG1, indicative of a Th1-biased immune response. A lymphoproliferative assay using splenocytes showed a significant cell-mediated immune response in the WT mice. As expected, no humoral or cell-mediated immune responses were observed in the SCID animals. In conclusion, inoculation of WT male mice in the meatus urethra with a human serovar of C. trachomatis resulted in a limited infection mainly localized to the lower genitourinary tract. On the other hand, SCID animals could not clear the infection, suggesting that in male mice, the adaptive immune response is necessary to control an infection with a C. trachomatis human serovar.
Effector memory T (Tem) cells are essential mediators of autoimmune disease and delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), a convenient model for two-photon imaging of Tem cell participation in an inflammatory response. Shortly (3 hr) after entry into antigen-primed ear tissue, Tem cells stably attached to antigen-bearing antigen-presenting cells (APCs). After 24 hr, enlarged Tem cells were highly motile along collagen fibers and continued to migrate rapidly for 18 hr. Tem cells rely on voltage-gated Kv1.3 potassium channels to regulate calcium signaling. ShK-186, a specific Kv1.3 blocker, inhibited DTH and suppressed Tem cell enlargement and motility in inflamed tissue but had no effect on homing to or motility in lymph nodes of naive and central memory T (Tcm) cells. ShK-186 effectively treated disease in a rat model of multiple sclerosis. These results demonstrate a requirement for Kv1.3 channels in Tem cells during an inflammatory immune response in peripheral tissues. Targeting Kv1.3 allows for effector memory responses to be suppressed while central memory responses remain intact.
Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to the Chlamydia trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) major outer membrane protein (MOMP) were characterized for their ability to neutralize the infectivity of this organism in vitro and in vivo. One of the MAbs (MoPn-23) recognizes a nonlinear epitope in the MOMP, MAb MoPn-40 binds to a linear epitope in the variable domain 1 (VD1), and MAb MoPn-32 recognizes the chlamydial lipopolysaccharide. MAb MoPn-23 neutralized 50% of the infectivity of Chlamydia, as measured in vitro by using HAK (FcγIII−) and HeLa-229 (FcγIII+) cells at a concentration 100 times lower than MAb MoPn-40. MAb MoPn-32 had no neutralizing ability. In comparison to the control normal mouse immunoglobulin G, passive immunization of BALB/c mice with MAb MoPn-23 resulted in a highly significant protection against an intranasal (i.n.) challenge as determined by the change in body weight, the weight of the lungs, and the yield of Chlamydia inclusion-forming units (IFU) from the lungs. Passive immunization with MAb MoPn-40 resulted in a lower degree of protection, and MAb MoPn-32 afforded no protection. MAb MoPn-23 was also tested for its ability to protect wild-type (WT) and severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) C.B-17 mice against an i.n. challenge. Protection based on total body weight, lung weight, and yield of Chlamydia IFU was as effective in SCID as in WT C.B-17 mice. In conclusion, antibodies to MOMP can protect mice against a chlamydial infection in the presence or absence of T and B cells.
Chlamydia trachomatis is a major pathogen throughout the world, and preventive measures have focused on the production of a vaccine using the major outer membrane protein (MOMP). Here, in elementary bodies and in preparations of the outer membrane, we identified native trimers of the MOMP. The trimers were stable under reducing conditions, although disulfide bonds appear to be present between the monomers of a trimer and between trimers. Cross-linking of the outer membrane complex demonstrated that the MOMP is most likely not in a close spatial relationship with the 60- and 12-kDa cysteine-rich proteins. Extraction of the MOMP from Chlamydia isolates under nondenaturing conditions yielded the trimeric conformation of this protein as shown by cross-linking and analysis by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis with different concentrations of acrylamide. Using circular dichroism spectroscopy, we determined that the trimers were formed mainly of β-pleated sheet structures in detergent micelles. Using a liposomal swelling assay, the MOMP was found to have porin activity, and the size of the pore was estimated to be approximately 2 nm in diameter. The trimers were found to be stable in SDS at temperatures ranging from 4 to 37°C and over a pH range of 5.0 to 8.0. In addition, the trimers of MOMP were found to be resistant to digestion with trypsin. In conclusion, these results show that the native conformation of the MOMP of C. trachomatis is a trimer with predominantly a β-sheet structure and porin function.
INPs, which are chemically synthesized compounds belonging to a class of acylated hydrazones of salicylaldehydes, can inhibit the growth of Chlamydiaceae. Evidence has been presented that in Yersinia and Chlamydia INPs may affect the type III secretion (T3S) system. In the present study 25 INPs were screened for antichlamydial activity at a concentration of 50 μM, and 14 were able to completely inhibit the growth of Chlamydia trachomatis serovar D in McCoy and HeLa 229 cells. The antichlamydial activities of two of these INPs, INPs 0341 and 0400, were further characterized due to their low cytotoxicity. These compounds were found to inhibit C. trachomatis in a dose-dependent manner; were not toxic to elementary bodies; were cidal at a concentration of ≥20 μM; inhibited all Chlamydiaceae tested; and could inhibit the development of C. trachomatis as determined by the yield of progeny when they were added up to 24 h postinfection. INP 0341 was able to affect the expression of several T3S genes. Compared to the expression in control cultures, lcrH-1, copB, and incA, all middle- to late-expressed T3S genes, were not expressed in the INP 0341-treated cultures 24 to 36 h postinfection. Iron, supplied as ferrous sulfate, as ferric chloride, or as holo-transferrin, was able to negate the antichlamydial properties of the INPs. In contrast, apo-transferrin and other divalent metal ions tested were not able to reverse the inhibitory effect of the INPs. In conclusion, the potent antichlamydial activity of INPs is directly or indirectly linked with iron, and this inhibition of Chlamydia has an effect on the T3S system of this intracellular pathogen.
BALB/c mice were vaccinated by the intramuscular (i.m.) and subcutaneous (s.c.) routes with a native preparation of the Chlamydia trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) major outer membrane protein (MOMP), using Montanide ISA 720 and CpG-1826 as adjuvants. A negative control group was immunized with ovalbumin and the two adjuvants, and a positive control group was immunized intranasally (i.n.) with 104 inclusion-forming units (IFU) of C. trachomatis. Four weeks after the last i.m.-plus-s.c. immunization, mice were challenged in the ovarian bursa with 105 IFU of C. trachomatis MoPn. Six weeks after the genital challenge, animals were mated, and the pregnancies were monitored. After vaccination with MOMP, the mice developed strong Chlamydia-specific humoral and cellular immune responses. Following the genital challenge, of the mice vaccinated with the MOMP, only 15% (3/20) had positive vaginal cultures, while 85% (17/20) of the animals immunized with ovalbumin had positive cultures over the 6 weeks of observation (P < 0.05). Also, only 14% (3/21) of the animals inoculated i.n. with Chlamydia had positive vaginal cultures. After mating, 75% (15/20) of the mice vaccinated with MOMP carried embryos in both uterine horns. Of the animals vaccinated i.n. with the Chlamydia, 81% (17/21) had embryos in both uterine horns (P > 0.05). In contrast, only 10% (2/20) of the mice immunized with ovalbumin had embryos in both uterine horns (P < 0.05). In conclusion, immunization with a purified preparation of the MOMP is as effective as vaccination with viable C. trachomatis in eliciting a protective immune response against a genital challenge in mice.
Members of the family Chlamydiaceae possess at least 13 genes, distributed throughout the chromosome, that are homologous with genes of known type III secretion systems (TTS). The aim of this study was to use putative TTS proteins of Chlamydophila pneumoniae, whose equivalents in other bacterial TTS function as chaperones, to identify interactions between chlamydial proteins. Using the BacterioMatch Two-Hybrid Vector system (Stratagene, La Jolla, Calif.), lcrH-2 and sycE, positions 1021 and 0325, respectively, from C. pneumoniae CM-1 were used as “bait” to identify target genes (positions 0324, 0705, 0708, 0808 to 0810, 1016 to 1020, and 1022) in close proximity on the chromosome. Interaction between the products of the lcrH-2 (1021) and lcrE (copN) (0324) genes was detected and confirmed by pull-down experiments and enzyme immunoassays using recombinant LcrH-2 and LcrE. As further confirmation of this interaction, the homologous genes from Chlamydia trachomatis, serovar E, and Chlamydophila psittaci, Texas turkey, were also cloned in the two-hybrid system to determine if LcrH-2 and LcrE would interact with their orthologs in other species. Consistent with their genetic relatedness, LcrH-2 from C. pneumoniae interacted with LcrE produced from the three species of Chlamydiaceae; LcrH-2 from C. psittaci reacted with LcrE from C. pneumoniae but not from C. trachomatis; and C. trachomatis LcrH-2 did not react with LcrE from the other two species. Deletions from the N and C termini of LcrE from C. pneumoniae identified the 50 C-terminal amino acids as essential for the interaction with LcrH-2. Thus, it appears that in the Chlamydiaceae TTS, LcrH-2 interacts with LcrE, and therefore it may serve as a chaperone for this protein.
The lack of an experimental model has significantly limited the understanding of the pathogenesis of Chlamydia trachomatis infections in males. In an attempt to establish a model using the natural route of infection, we inoculated male mice in the meatus urethra. To establish the 50% infectious dose (ID50), C3H/HeN (H-2k) male mice were inoculated in the meatus urethra with doses ranging from 101 to 107 inclusion-forming units (IFU) of C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis biovar (MoPn) and were euthanized at 10 days postinfection (p.i.). Approximately 50% of the animals inoculated with 5 × 104 IFU had positive cultures of the urethra, urinary bladder, epididymides, and/or testes. Subsequently, to characterize the course of the infection, a group of animals was inoculated with 106 IFU/mouse (20 times the ID50). Positive cultures from the urethra, urinary bladder, epididymides, and testes were obtained from the animals. The infection peaked in the first 2 weeks p.i. and subsequently declined over the 7 weeks of observation. C. trachomatis-specific antibodies were first detected in serum by 2 weeks p.i. and rose over the period of observation. The titers of immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a) were 16-fold higher than those of IgG1. A lymphoproliferative assay using splenocytes and local lymph nodes showed a strong cell-mediated immune response. Levels of gamma interferon were significantly higher than those of interleukin-4 in the supernatants from stimulated lymphocytes. An acute inflammatory infiltrate consisting of polymorphonuclear leukocytes was detected in the urethra at 1 week p.i. At 3 weeks p.i., a mixed acute and chronic inflammatory infiltrate was observed in the urethra that by 5 to 6 weeks was mainly composed of mononuclear cells. Similar findings were also observed in the urinary bladder, although the inflammatory infiltrate was delayed by approximately a week relative to that in the urethra. Sections of the epididymides showed a focal acute inflammatory infiltrate at 2 weeks p.i. Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated multiple chlamydial inclusions in the epithelium of the urethra and urinary bladder. No chlamydial inclusions were observed in the epididymides or testes. In conclusion, inoculation of male mice in the meatus urethra with C. trachomatis MoPn results in an infection of the genitourinary tract that closely parallels that described in humans. This model should help to characterize the pathogenesis of chlamydial infections in males and to test therapeutic and preventive measures.
Chlamydia pneumoniae has been shown to possess at least 13 genes that are homologous with other known type III secretion (TTS) systems. Upon infection of HEp-2 cells with C. pneumoniae, the expression of these genes was followed by reverse transcriptase PCR throughout the developmental cycle of this obligate intracellular pathogen. In addition, expression was analyzed when C. pneumoniae was grown in the presence of human gamma interferon (IFN-γ). The groEL-1, ompA, and omcB genes were used as markers for the early, middle, and late stages of the developmental cycle, respectively, and the inhibition of expression of the fstK gene was used as a marker for the effect of IFN-γ on the maturation of C. pneumoniae. In the absence of IFN-γ, the TTS genes were expressed as follows: early stage (1.5 to 8 h), yscC, yscS, yscL, yscJ and lcrH-2; middle stage (by 12 to 18 h), lcrD, yscN, and yscR; and late stage (by 24 h), lcrE, sycE, lcrH-1, and yscT. Of the genes expressed early, the lcrH-2 gene was detected the earliest, at 1.5 h. Expression of the yscU gene was not detected at any of the time points examined. Under the influence of IFN-γ, the cluster of TTS genes that were normally not expressed until the middle to late stages of the developmental cycle, namely, lcrD, lcrE, and sycE, as well as lcrH-1, were down-regulated, and expression could not be detected up to 48 h. In contrast, the expression of the other TTS genes appeared to be unchanged in the presence of IFN-γ. The lcrH-1 and lcrH-2 genes differed from one another in both their temporal expression and response to IFN-γ. In other TTS systems, these genes code for proteins that function in regulation of effector protein synthesis as well as serve as chaperones for proteins that provide for the translocation of the effector proteins into the host cell. In summary, the expression pattern of the TTS genes of C. pneumoniae examined suggests that they are temporally regulated throughout the developmental cycle. Furthermore, paralleling the inhibition of the maturation of the reticulate body to the elementary body, TTS genes expressed in the later stages of the cycle appear to be down-regulated when the organism is grown in the presence of IFN-γ.
Recently, we have shown that a vaccine consisting of a purified preparation of the Chlamydia trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) major outer membrane protein (MOMP) and Freund's adjuvant can protect mice against a genital challenge. Here, we wanted to determine if CpG motifs could be used as an immune modulator to the MOMP to induce protection in mice against an intranasal (i.n.) challenge. One-week-old BALB/c mice were immunized intramuscularly and subcutaneously either once or three times at 2-week intervals with MOMP and CpG suspended in aluminum hydroxide (alum). Negative controls received ovalbumin, CpG, and alum. Positive controls were immunized i.n. with C. trachomatis MoPn elementary bodies (EB). Six weeks after the last immunization, mice were challenged i.n. with 104 inclusion-forming units (IFU) of the C. trachomatis MoPn serovar. Mice that received MOMP, CpG, and alum had a strong immune response, as shown by a high titer of serum antibodies to Chlamydia and significant lymphoproliferation of T-cells following stimulation with C. trachomatis EB. After the i.n. challenge mice immunized with MOMP, CpG, and alum showed significantly less body weight loss than the corresponding control mice immunized with ovalbumin, CpG, and alum. Ten days after the challenge the animals were euthanized, their lungs were weighed, and the numbers of IFU in the lungs were determined. The average weight of the lungs of the mice immunized with MOMP, CpG, and alum was significantly less than average weight of the lungs of the mice immunized with ovalbumin, CpG, and alum. Also, the average number of IFU recovered per mouse immunized with MOMP, CpG, and alum was significantly less than the average number of IFU per mouse detected in the mice inoculated with ovalbumin, CpG, and alum. In conclusion, our data show that CpG sequences can be used as an effective adjuvant with the C. trachomatis MoPn MOMP to elicit a protective immune response in mice against a chlamydial respiratory challenge.