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Adv Bioinformatics. 2010;2010:178069. doi: 10.1155/2010/178069. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Algorithmic assessment of vaccine-induced selective pressure and its implications on future vaccine candidates.

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  • 1Laboratory of Pathology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Posttrial assessment of a vaccine's selective pressure on infecting strains may be realized through a bioinformatic tool such as parsimony phylogenetic analysis. Following a failed gonococcal pilus vaccine trial of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, we conducted a phylogenetic analysis of pilin DNA and predicted peptide sequences from clinical isolates to assess the extent of the vaccine's effect on the type of field strains that the volunteers contracted. Amplified pilin DNA sequences from infected vaccinees, placebo recipients, and vaccine specimens were phylogenetically analyzed. Cladograms show that the vaccine peptides have diverged substantially from their paternal isolate by clustering distantly from each other. Pilin genes of the field clinical isolates were heterogeneous, and their peptides produced clades comprised of vaccinated and placebo recipients' strains indicating that the pilus vaccine did not exert any significant selective pressure on gonorrhea field strains. Furthermore, sequences of the semivariable and hypervariable regions pointed out heterotachous rates of mutation and substitution.

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