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1.  Production and Evaluation of a Recombinant Chimeric Vaccine against Clostridium botulinum Neurotoxin Types C and D 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69692.
Bovine botulism is a fatal disease that is caused by botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) produced by Clostridium botulinum serotypes C and D and that causes great economic losses, with nearly 100% lethality during outbreaks. It has also been considered a potential source of human food-borne illness in many countries. Vaccination has been reported to be the most effective way to control bovine botulism. However, the commercially available toxoid-based vaccines are difficult and hazardous to produce. Neutralizing antibodies targeted against the C-terminal fragment of the BoNT heavy chain (HC) are known to confer efficient protection against lethal doses of BoNTs. In this study, a novel recombinant chimera, consisting of Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin B subunit (LTB), a strong adjuvant of the humoral immune response, fused to the HC of BoNT serotypes C and D, was produced in E. coli. Mice vaccinated with the chimera containing LTB and an equivalent molar ratio of the chimera without LTB plus aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3) developed 2 IU/mL of antitoxins for both serotypes. Guinea pigs immunized with the recombinant chimera with LTB plus Al(OH)3 developed a protective immune response against both BoNT/C (5 IU/mL) and BoNT/D (10 IU/mL), as determined by a mouse neutralization bioassay with pooled sera. The results achieved with guinea pig sera fulfilled the requirements of commercial vaccines for prevention of botulism, as determined by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, Supply. The presence of LTB was essential for the development of a strong humoral immune response, as it acted in synergism with Al(OH)3. Thus, the vaccine described in this study is a strong candidate for the control of botulism in cattle.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069692
PMCID: PMC3729698  PMID: 23936080
2.  Vaccination with a BCG Strain Overexpressing Ag85B Protects Cattle against Mycobacterium bovis Challenge 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51396.
Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of tuberculosis in cattle but also infects other animals, including humans. Previous studies in cattle have demonstrated that the protection induced by BCG is not complete. In order to improve the protection efficacy of BCG, in this study we overexpressed Ag85B in a BCG Pasteur strain, by using an expression system based on the use of an auxotrophic strain for the leucine amino acid, and complementation with leuD. We found that vaccination of cattle with BCG overexpressing Ag85B induced higher production of IL-17 and IL-4 mRNA upon purified protein derivative (PPDB) stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) than vaccination with BCG. Moreover, the IL-17 mRNA expression after vaccination negatively correlated with disease severity resulting from a subsequent challenge with M. bovis, suggesting that this cytokine is a potential biomarker of cattle protection against bovine tuberculosis. Importantly, vaccination with the recombinant BCG vaccine protected cattle better than the wild-type BCG Pasteur.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051396
PMCID: PMC3519572  PMID: 23251517
3.  Bioinformatics Describes Novel Loci for High Resolution Discrimination of Leptospira Isolates 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e15335.
Background
Leptospirosis is one of the most widespread zoonoses in the world and with over 260 pathogenic serovars there is an urgent need for a molecular system of classification. The development of multilocus sequence typing (MLST) schemes for Leptospira spp. is addressing this issue. The aim of this study was to identify loci with potential to enhance Leptospira strain discrimination by sequencing-based methods.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We used bioinformatics to evaluate pre-existing loci with the potential to increase the discrimination of outbreak strains. Previously deposited sequence data were evaluated by phylogenetic analyses using either single or concatenated sequences. We identified and evaluated the applicability of the ligB, secY, rpoB and lipL41 loci, individually and in combination, to discriminate between 38 pathogenic Leptospira strains and to cluster them according to the species they belonged to. Pairwise identity among the loci ranged from 82.0–92.0%, while interspecies identity was 97.7–98.5%. Using the ligB-secY-rpoB-lipL41 superlocus it was possible to discriminate 34/38 strains, which belong to six pathogenic Leptospira species. In addition, the sequences were concatenated with the superloci from 16 sequence types from a previous MLST scheme employed to study the association of a leptospiral clone with an outbreak of human leptospirosis in Thailand. Their use enhanced the discriminative power of the existing scheme. The lipL41 and rpoB loci raised the resolution from 81.0–100%, but the enhanced scheme still remains limited to the L. interrogans and L. kirschneri species.
Conclusions
As the first aim of our study, the ligB-secY-rpoB-lipL41 superlocus demonstrated a satisfactory level of discrimination among the strains evaluated. Second, the inclusion of the rpoB and lipL41 loci to a MLST scheme provided high resolution for discrimination of strains within L. interrogans and L. kirschneri and might be useful in future epidemiological studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015335
PMCID: PMC2955542  PMID: 21124728

Results 1-3 (3)