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Infect Immun. 2006 Jan;74(1):516-27.

A recombinant aspartyl protease of Coccidioides posadasii induces protection against pulmonary coccidioidomycosis in mice.

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Department of Biology University of Texas at San Antonio, Margaret Batts Tobin Building, Rm. 1.308E, 6900 North Loop 1604 West, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA.


Coccidioidomycosis is a respiratory disease of humans caused by the desert soil-borne fungal pathogens Coccidioides spp. Recurrent epidemics of this mycosis in the southwestern United States have contributed significantly to escalated health care costs. Clinical and experimental studies indicate that prior symptomatic coccidioidomycosis induces immunity against subsequent infection, and activation of T cells is essential for containment of the pathogen and its clearance from host tissue. Development of a human vaccine against coccidioidomycosis has focused on recombinant T-cell-reactive antigens which elicit a durable protective immune response against pulmonary infection in mice. In this study we fractionated a protective multicomponent parasitic cell wall extract in an attempt to identify T-cell antigens. Immunoblots of electrophoretic separations of this extract identified patient seroreactive proteins which were subsequently excised from two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis gels, trypsin digested, and sequenced by tandem mass spectrometry. The full-length gene which encodes a dominant protein in the immunoblot was identified using established methods of bioinformatics. The gene was cloned and expressed, and the recombinant protein was shown to stimulate immune T cells in vitro. The deduced protein was predicted to contain epitopes that bind to human major histocompatibility complex class II molecules using a TEPITOPE-based algorithm. Synthetic peptides corresponding to the predicted T-cell epitopes induced gamma interferon production by immune T lymphocytes. The T-cell-reactive antigen, which is homologous to secreted fungal aspartyl proteases, protected mice against pulmonary infection with Coccidioides posadasii. We argue that this immunoproteomic/bioinformatic approach to the identification of candidate vaccines against coccidioidomycosis is both efficient and productive.

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