Subunit vaccine to prevent Escherichia coli O157:H7 intestinal attachment and colonization

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In the United States, Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) is the most frequent cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and it is also the primary cause of acute renal

In the United States, Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) is the most frequent cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and it is also the primary cause of acute renal failure in children. The most common route of the infection is ingestion of contaminated meat or dairy product originating from cattle or vegetables contaminated with bovine manure. Since cattle are the main reservoir for human infection with E. coli O157:H7, the reduction of intestinal colonization by these bacteria in cattle is the best approach to prevent human infections. Intimin is an outer membrane protein of E. coli O157:H7 that plays an important role in adhesion of the bacteria to the host cell. Hence, I proposed to express intimin protein in tomato plants to use it as a vaccine candidate to reduce or prevent intestinal colonization of cattle with E. coli O157:H7. I expressed His-tagged intimin protein in tomato plants and tested the purified plant-derived intimin as a vaccine candidate in animal trials. I demonstrated that mice immunized intranasally with purified tomato-derived intimin produced intimin-specific serum IgG1and IgG2a, as well as mucosal IgA. I further demonstrated that mice immunized with intimin significantly reduced time of the E. coli O157:H7 shedding in their feces after the challenge with these bacteria, as compared to unimmunized mice. Shiga toxin is the major virulence factor that contributes to HUS. Since Shiga toxin B subunit has an important role in the attachment of the toxin to its receptor, I fused intimin to Shiga toxin B subunit to create multivalent subunit vaccine and tested the effects upon immunization of mice with the B subunit when combined with intimin. His-tagged intimin, Shiga toxin B subunit, and Shiga toxin-intimin fusion proteins were expressed in E. coli and purified. I demonstrated that this multivalent fusion protein vaccine candidate elicited intimin- and Shiga toxin B-specific IgG1, IgG2a, and IgA antibodies in mice. I also showed a reduction in the duration of the bacterial shedding after the challenge compared to the control sham-immunized groups.