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Vaccine. 2007 Jan 26;25(7):1225-35. Epub 2006 Oct 17.

Multicomponent anthrax toxin display and delivery using bacteriophage T4.

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Department of Biology, 103 McCort Ward Hall, The Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20064, USA.


We describe a multicomponent antigen display and delivery system using bacteriophage T4. Two dispensable outer capsid proteins, Hoc (highly antigenic outer capsid protein, 155 copies) and Soc (small outer capsid protein, 810 copies), decorate phage T4 capsid. These proteins bind to the symmetrically localized capsid sites, which appear following prohead assembly and expansion. We hypothesized that multiple antigens fused to Hoc can be displayed on the same capsid and such particles can elicit broad immunological responses. Anthrax toxin proteins, protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF), and edema factor (EF), and their functional domains, were fused to Hoc with an N-terminal hexa-histidine tag and the recombinant proteins were over-expressed in E. coli and purified. Using a defined in vitro assembly system, the anthrax-Hoc fusion proteins were efficiently displayed on T4 capsid, either individually or in combinations. All of the 155 Hoc binding sites can be occupied by one antigen, or they can be split among two or more antigens by varying their molar ratio in the binding reaction. Immunization of mice with T4 phage carrying PA, LF, and EF elicited strong antigen-specific antibodies against all antigens as well as lethal toxin neutralization titers. The triple antigen T4 phage elicited stronger PA-specific immune responses than the phage displaying PA alone. These features offer novel avenues to develop customized multicomponent vaccines against anthrax and other pathogenic diseases.

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