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1.  A Protective and Safe Intranasal RSV Vaccine Based on a Recombinant Prefusion-Like Form of the F Protein Bound to Bacterium-Like Particles 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71072.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important cause of respiratory tract disease in infants and the elderly. Currently, no licensed vaccine against RSV is available. Here we describe the development of a safe and effective intranasal subunit vaccine that is based on recombinant fusion (F) protein bound to the surface of immunostimulatory bacterium-like particles (BLPs) derived from the food-grade bacterium Lactococcus lactis. Different variants of F were analyzed with respect to their conformation and reactivity with neutralizing antibodies, assuming that F proteins mimicking the metastable prefusion form of RSV F expose a more extensive and relevant epitope repertoire than F proteins corresponding to the postfusion structure. Our results indicate that the recombinant soluble ectodomain of RSV F readily adopts a postfusion conformation, generation of which cannot be prevented by C-terminal addition of a trimerization motif, but whose formation is prevented by mutation of the two furin cleavage sites in F. While the putative postfusion form of F is recognized well by the monoclonal antibody Palivizumab, this is much less so for the more potently neutralizing, prefusion-specific antibodies D25 and AM22. Both addition of the trimerization motif and mutation of the furin cleavage sites increased the reactivity of F with D25 and AM22, with the highest reactivity being observed for F proteins in which both these features were combined. Intranasal vaccination of mice or cotton rats with BLPs loaded with this latter prefusion-like F protein (BLP-F), resulted in the potent induction of F-specific immunoglobulins and in significantly decreased virus titers in the lungs upon RSV challenge. Moreover, and in contrast to animals vaccinated with formalin-inactivated RSV, animals that received BLP-F exhibited high levels of F-specific secretory IgA in the nose and RSV-neutralizing antibodies in sera, but did not show symptoms of enhanced disease after challenge with RSV.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071072
PMCID: PMC3741363  PMID: 23951084
2.  AcmD, a Homolog of the Major Autolysin AcmA of Lactococcus lactis, Binds to the Cell Wall and Contributes to Cell Separation and Autolysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72167.
Lactococcus lactis expresses the homologous glucosaminidases AcmB, AcmC, AcmA and AcmD. The latter two have three C-terminal LysM repeats for peptidoglycan binding. AcmD has much shorter intervening sequences separating the LysM repeats and a lower iso-electric point (4.3) than AcmA (10.3). Under standard laboratory conditions AcmD was mainly secreted into the culture supernatant. An L. lactis acmAacmD double mutant formed longer chains than the acmA single mutant, indicating that AcmD contributes to cell separation. This phenotype could be complemented by plasmid-encoded expression of AcmD in the double mutant. No clear difference in cellular lysis and protein secretion was observed between both mutants. Nevertheless, overexpression of AcmD resulted in increased autolysis when AcmA was present (as in the wild type strain) or when AcmA was added to the culture medium of an AcmA-minus strain. Possibly, AcmD is mainly active within the cell wall, at places where proper conditions are present for its binding and catalytic activity. Various fusion proteins carrying either the three LysM repeats of AcmA or AcmD were used to study and compare their cell wall binding characteristics. Whereas binding of the LysM domain of AcmA took place at pHs ranging from 4 to 8, LysM domain of AcmD seems to bind strongest at pH 4.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072167
PMCID: PMC3738550  PMID: 23951292
3.  Bacterium-Like Particles for Efficient Immune Stimulation of Existing Vaccines and New Subunit Vaccines in Mucosal Applications 
The successful development of a mucosal vaccine depends critically on the use of a safe and effective immunostimulant and/or carrier system. This review describes the effectiveness and mode of action of an immunostimulating particle, derived from bacteria, used in mucosal subunit vaccines. The non-living particles, designated bacterium-like particles are based on the food-grade bacterium Lactococcus lactis. The focus of the overview is on the development of intranasal BLP-based vaccines to prevent diseases caused by influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, and includes a selection of Phase I clinical data for the intranasal FluGEM vaccine.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00282
PMCID: PMC3775300  PMID: 24062748
carrier-adjuvant; mucosal vaccine technology; particles; Lactococcus lactis; influenza vaccines; RSV vaccines
4.  Bacterium-like particles as multi-epitope delivery platform for Plasmodium berghei circumsporozoite protein induce complete protection against malaria in mice 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:50.
Background
Virus-like particles have been regularly used as an antigen delivery system for a number of Plasmodium peptides or proteins. The present study reports the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of bacterium-like particles (BLPs) generated from Lactococcus lactis and loaded with Plasmodium berghei circumsporozoite protein (PbCSP) peptides.
Methods
A panel of BLP-PbCSP formulations differing in composition and quantity of B-cell, CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell epitopes of PbCSP were tested in BALB/c mice.
Results
BLP-PbCSP1 induced specific humoral responses but no IFN-γ ELISPOT response, protecting 30-40% of the immunized mice. BLP-PbCSP2, with reduced length of the non-immunogenic part of the T-cell-epitopes construct, increased induction of IFN-γ responses as well as protection up to 60-70%. Compared to controls, lower parasitaemia was observed in unprotected mice immunized with BLP-PbCSP1 or 2, suggestive for partial immunity. Finally, further increase of the number of B-cell epitopes and codon optimization (BLP-PbCSP4) induced the highest anti-CSP antibody levels and number of IFN-γ spots, resulting in sterile immunity in 100% of the immunized mice.
Conclusion
Presentation of Plasmodium-derived antigens using BLPs as a delivery system induced complete protection in a murine malaria model. Eventually, BLPs have the potential to be used as a novel versatile delivery platform in malaria vaccine development.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-50
PMCID: PMC3337279  PMID: 22348325
BLP; CSP; Delivery platform; Immunization; Malaria; Plasmodium berghei
5.  Neonatal mucosal immunization with a non-living, non-genetically modified Lactococcus lactis vaccine carrier induces systemic and local Th1-type immunity and protects against lethal bacterial infection 
Mucosal immunology  2009;3(2):159-171.
Safe and effective immunization of newborns and infants can significantly reduce childhood mortality, yet conventional vaccines have been largely unsuccessful in stimulating the neonatal immune system. We explored the capacity of a novel mucosal antigen delivery system consisting of non-living, non-genetically modified Lactococcus lactis particles, designated Gram-positive Enhancer Matrix (GEM), to induce immune responses in the neonatal setting. Yersinia pestis LcrV, used as model protective antigen, was displayed on the GEM particles. Newborn mice immunized intranasally with GEM-LcrV developed LcrV-specific antibodies, Th1-type cell-mediated immunity, and were protected against lethal Y. pestis (plague) infection. The GEM particles activated and enhanced the maturation of neonatal dendritic cells both in vivo and in vitro. These dendritic cells showed increased capacities for secretion of pro-inflammatory and Th1-cell polarizing cytokines, antigen presentation and stimulation of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. These data show that mucosal immunization with L. lactis GEM particles carrying vaccine antigens represents a promising approach to prevent infectious diseases early in life.
doi:10.1038/mi.2009.131
PMCID: PMC2863133  PMID: 19924118
6.  Intranasal Delivery of Influenza Subunit Vaccine Formulated with GEM Particles as an Adjuvant 
The AAPS Journal  2010;12(2):109-116.
Nasal administration of influenza vaccine has the potential to facilitate influenza control and prevention. However, when administered intranasally (i.n.), commercially available inactivated vaccines only generate systemic and mucosal immune responses if strong adjuvants are used, which are often associated with safety problems. We describe the successful use of a safe adjuvant Gram-positive enhancer matrix (GEM) particles derived from the food-grade bacterium Lactococcus lactis for i.n. vaccination with subunit influenza vaccine in mice. It is shown that simple admixing of the vaccine with the GEM particles results in a strongly enhanced immune response. Already after one booster, the i.n. delivered GEM subunit vaccine resulted in hemagglutination inhibition titers in serum at a level equal to the conventional intramuscular (i.m.) route. Moreover, i.n. immunization with GEM subunit vaccine elicited superior mucosal and Th1 skewed immune responses compared to those induced by i.m. and i.n. administered subunit vaccine alone. In conclusion, GEM particles act as a potent adjuvant for i.n. influenza immunization.
doi:10.1208/s12248-009-9168-2
PMCID: PMC2844513  PMID: 20058113
influenza vaccine; intranasal vaccine; Lactococcus lactis GEM particles
7.  Intranasal Delivery of Influenza Subunit Vaccine Formulated with GEM Particles as an Adjuvant 
The AAPS Journal  2010;12(2):109-116.
Nasal administration of influenza vaccine has the potential to facilitate influenza control and prevention. However, when administered intranasally (i.n.), commercially available inactivated vaccines only generate systemic and mucosal immune responses if strong adjuvants are used, which are often associated with safety problems. We describe the successful use of a safe adjuvant Gram-positive enhancer matrix (GEM) particles derived from the food-grade bacterium Lactococcus lactis for i.n. vaccination with subunit influenza vaccine in mice. It is shown that simple admixing of the vaccine with the GEM particles results in a strongly enhanced immune response. Already after one booster, the i.n. delivered GEM subunit vaccine resulted in hemagglutination inhibition titers in serum at a level equal to the conventional intramuscular (i.m.) route. Moreover, i.n. immunization with GEM subunit vaccine elicited superior mucosal and Th1 skewed immune responses compared to those induced by i.m. and i.n. administered subunit vaccine alone. In conclusion, GEM particles act as a potent adjuvant for i.n. influenza immunization.
doi:10.1208/s12248-009-9168-2
PMCID: PMC2844513  PMID: 20058113
influenza vaccine; intranasal vaccine; Lactococcus lactis GEM particles
8.  Detection and Localization of Single LysM-Peptidoglycan Interactions▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(21):7079-7086.
The lysin motif (LysM) is a ubiquitous protein module that binds peptidoglycan and structurally related molecules. Here, we used single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) to measure and localize individual LysM-peptidoglycan interactions on both model and cellular surfaces. LysM modules of the major autolysin AcmA of Lactococcus lactis were bound to gold-coated atomic force microscopy tips, while peptidoglycan was covalently attached onto model supports. Multiple force curves recorded between the LysM tips and peptidoglycan surfaces yielded a bimodal distribution of binding forces, presumably reflecting the occurrence of one and two LysM-peptidoglycan interactions, respectively. The specificity of the measured interaction was confirmed by performing blocking experiments with free peptidoglycan. Next, the LysM tips were used to map single LysM interactions on the surfaces of L. lactis cells. Strikingly, native cells showed very poor binding, suggesting that peptidoglycan was hindered by other cell wall constituents. Consistent with this notion, treatment of the cells with trichloroacetic acid, which removes peptidoglycan-associated polymers, resulted in substantial and homogeneous binding of the LysM tip. These results provide novel insight into the binding forces of bacterial LysMs and show that SMFS is a promising tool for studying the heterologous display of proteins or peptides on bacterial surfaces.
doi:10.1128/JB.00519-08
PMCID: PMC2580685  PMID: 18757536
9.  Novel Surface Display System for Proteins on Non-Genetically Modified Gram-Positive Bacteria 
A novel display system is described that allows highly efficient immobilization of heterologous proteins on bacterial surfaces in applications for which the use of genetically modified bacteria is less desirable. This system is based on nonliving and non-genetically modified gram-positive bacterial cells, designated gram-positive enhancer matrix (GEM) particles, which are used as substrates to bind externally added heterologous proteins by means of a high-affinity binding domain. This binding domain, the protein anchor (PA), was derived from the Lactococcus lactis peptidoglycan hydrolase AcmA. GEM particles were typically prepared from the innocuous bacterium L. lactis, and various parameters for the optimal preparation of GEM particles and binding of PA fusion proteins were determined. The versatility and flexibility of the display and delivery technology were demonstrated by investigating enzyme immobilization and nasal vaccine applications.
doi:10.1128/AEM.72.1.880-889.2006
PMCID: PMC1352190  PMID: 16391130
10.  Cre-loxP Recombination System for Large Genome Rearrangements in Lactococcus lactis†  
We have used a new genetic strategy based on the Cre-loxP recombination system to generate large chromosomal rearrangements in Lactococcus lactis. Two loxP sites were sequentially integrated in inverse order into the chromosome either at random locations by transposition or at fixed points by homologous recombination. The recombination between the two chromosomal loxP sites was highly efficient (approximately 1 × 10−1/cell) when the Cre recombinase was provided in trans, and parental- or inverted-type chromosomal structures were isolated after removal of the Cre recombinase. The usefulness of this approach was demonstrated by creating three large inversions of 500, 1,115, and 1,160 kb in size that modified the lactococcal genome organization to different extents. The Cre-loxP recombination system described can potentially be used for other gram-positive bacteria without further modification.
doi:10.1128/AEM.68.5.2359-2367.2002
PMCID: PMC127585  PMID: 11976109
11.  Cloning, Expression, and Chromosomal Stabilization of the Propionibacterium shermanii Proline Iminopeptidase Gene (pip) for Food-Grade Application in Lactococcus lactis 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1998;64(12):4736-4742.
Proline iminopeptidase produced by Propionibacterium shermanii plays an essential role in the flavor development of Swiss-type cheeses. The enzyme (Pip) was purified and characterized, and the gene (pip) was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli and Lactococcus lactis, the latter species being an extensively studied, primary cheese starter culture that is less fastidious in its growth condition requirements than P. shermanii. The levels of expression of the pip gene could be enhanced with a factor 3 to 5 by using a strong constitutive promoter in L. lactis or the inducible tac promoter in E. coli. Stable replication of the rolling-circle replicating (rcr) plasmid, used to express pip in L. lactis, could only be obtained by providing the repA gene in trans. Upon the integration of pip, clear gene dosage effects were observed and stable multicopy integrants could be maintained upon growth under the selective pressure of sucrose. The multicopy integrants demonstrated a high degree of stability in the presence of glucose. This study examines the possibilities to overexpress genes that play an important role in food fermentation processes and shows a variety of options to obtain stable food-grade expression of such genes in L. lactis.
PMCID: PMC90916  PMID: 9835556
12.  Effect of X-Prolyl Dipeptidyl Aminopeptidase Deficiency on Lactococcus lactis 
The genetic determinant (pepXP) of an X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase (PepXP) has recently been cloned and sequenced from both Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris (B. Mayo, J. Kok, K. Venema, W. Bockelmann, M. Teuber, H. Reinke, and G. Venema, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57:38-44, 1991) and L. lactis subsp. lactis (M. Nardi, M.-C. Chopin, A. Chopin, M.-M. Cals, and J.-C. Gripon, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57:45-50, 1991). To examine the possible role of the enzyme in the breakdown of caseins required for lactococci to grow in milk, integration vectors have been constructed and used to specifically inactivate the pepXP gene. After inactivation of the gene in L. lactis subsp. lactis MG1363, which is Lac- and Prt-, the Lac+ Prt+ determinants were transferred by conjugation by using L. lactis subsp. lactis 712 as the donor. Since growth of the transconjugants relative to the PepXP+ strains was not retarded in milk, it was concluded that PepXP is not essential for growth in that medium. It was also demonstrated that the open reading frame ORF1, upstream of pepXP, was not required for PepXP activity in L. lactis. A marked difference between metenkephalin degradation patterns was observed after incubation of this pentapeptide with cell extracts obtained from wild-type lactococci and pepXP mutants. Therefore, altered expression of the pepXP-encoded general dipeptidyl aminopeptidase activity may change the peptide composition of fermented milk products.
Images
PMCID: PMC182234  PMID: 16348982
14.  Stability of Integrated Plasmids in the Chromosome of Lactococcus lactis 
Derivatives of plasmids pBR322, pUB110, pSC101, and pTB19, all containing an identical fragment of lactococcal chromosomal DNA, were integrated via a Campbell-like mechanism into the same chromosomal site of Lactococcus lactis MG1363, and the transformants were analyzed for the stability of the integrated plasmids. In all cases the erythromycin resistance gene of pE194 was used as a selectable marker. Transformants obtained by integration of the pBR322 derivatives contained a head-to-tail arrangement of several plasmid copies, which most likely was caused by integration of plasmid multimers. Single-copy integrations were obtained with the pSC101 and pTB19 derivatives. In all of these transformants no loss of the erythromycin gene was detected during growth for 100 generations in the absence of the antibiotic. In contrast, transformants containing integrated amplified plasmid copies of pUB110 derivatives were unstable under these conditions. Since pUB110 appeared to have replicative activity in L. lactis, we suggest that this activity destabilized the amplified structures in L. lactis.
Images
PMCID: PMC184834  PMID: 16348281

Results 1-14 (14)