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Microbes Infect. 2012 Jan;14(1):86-95. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2011.08.011. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Potential of Mycobacterium tuberculosis resuscitation-promoting factors as antigens in novel tuberculosis sub-unit vaccines.

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  • 1Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV-ISP), Scientific Service Immunology, 642 Engelandstraat, B-1180 Brussels, Belgium.


Novel vaccines are needed to control tuberculosis (TB), the bacterial infectious disease that together with malaria and HIV is worldwide responsible for high levels of morbidity and mortality. TB can result from the reactivation of an initially controlled latent infection by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Mtb proteins for which a possible role in this reactivation process has been hypothesized are the five homologs of the resuscitation-promoting factor of Micrococcus luteus, namely Mtb Rv0867c (rpfA), Rv1009 (rpfB), Rv1884c (rpfC), Rv2389c (rpfD) and Rv2450c (rpfE). Analysis of the immune recognition of these 5 proteins following Mtb infection or Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination of mice showed that Rv1009 (rpfB) and Rv2389c (rpfD) are the most antigenic in the tested models. We therefore selected rpfB and rpfD for testing their vaccine potential as plasmid DNA vaccines. Elevated cellular immune responses and modest but significant protection against intra-tracheal Mtb challenge were induced by immunization with the rpfB encoding DNA vaccine. The results indicate that rpfB is the most promising candidate of the five rpf-like proteins of Mtb in terms of its immunogenicity and protective efficacy and warrants further analysis for inclusion as an antigen in novel TB vaccines.

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