Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strains are a leading cause of children's diarrhea and travelers' diarrhea. Vaccines inducing antibodies to broadly inhibit bacterial adherence and to neutralize toxin enterotoxicity are expected to be effective against ETEC-associated diarrhea. 6 ×His-tagged adhesin-toxoid fusion proteins were shown to induce neutralizing antibodies to several adhesins and LT and STa toxins (X. Ruan, D. A. Sack, W. Zhang, PLoS One 10:e0121623, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal .pone.0121623). However, antibodies derived from His-tagged CFA/I/II/IV-2xSTaA14QdmLT or CFA/I/II/IV-2xSTaN12S-dmLT protein were less effective in neutralizing STa enterotoxicity and were not evaluated in vivo for efficacy against ETEC diarrhea. Additionally, His-tagged proteins are considered less desirable for human vaccines. In this study, we produced a tagless adhesin-toxoid MEFA (multiepitope fusion antigen) protein, enhanced anti-STa immunogenicity by including a third copy of STa toxoid STaN12S, and examined antigen immunogenicity in a murine model. Moreover, we immunized pregnant pigs with the tagless adhesin-toxoid MEFA protein and evaluated passive antibody protection against STa+ or LT+ ETEC infection in a pig challenge model. Results showed that tagless adhesin-toxoid MEFA CFA/I/II/IV-3xSTaN12SmnLTR192G/L211A induced broad antiadhesin and antitoxin antibody responses in the intraperitoneally immunized mice and the intramuscularly immunized pigs. Mouse and pig serum antibodies significantly inhibited adherence of seven colonization factor antigen (CFA) adhesins (CFA/I and CS1 to CS6) and effectively neutralized both toxins. More importantly, suckling piglets born to the immunized mothers acquired antibodies and were protected against STa+ ETEC and LT+ ETEC diarrhea. These results indicated that tagless CFA/I/II/IV-3xSTaN12S-mnLTR192G/L211A induced broadly protective antiadhesin and antitoxin antibodies and demonstrate that this adhesin-toxoid MEFA is a potential antigen for developing broadly protective ETEC vaccines.
- Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli
- Fusion antigen
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases