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J Infect Dis. 2015 Jun 1;211(11):1831-41. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu675. Epub 2014 Dec 11.

The Recombinant BCG ΔureC::hly Vaccine Targets the AIM2 Inflammasome to Induce Autophagy and Inflammation.

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Department of Immunology.
Core Facility Microarray, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, Germany.



The recombinant BCG ΔureC::hly (rBCG) vaccine candidate induces improved protection against tuberculosis over parental BCG (pBCG) in preclinical studies and has successfully completed a phase 2a clinical trial. However, the mechanisms responsible for the superior vaccine efficacy of rBCG are still incompletely understood. Here, we investigated the underlying biological mechanisms elicited by the rBCG vaccine candidate relevant to its protective efficacy.


THP-1 macrophages were infected with pBCG or rBCG, and inflammasome activation and autophagy were evaluated. In addition, mice were vaccinated with pBCG or rBCG, and gene expression in the draining lymph nodes was analyzed by microarray at day 1 after vaccination.


BCG-derived DNA was detected in the cytosol of rBCG-infected macrophages. rBCG infection was associated with enhanced absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2) inflammasome activation, increased activation of caspases and production of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18, as well as induction of AIM2-dependent and stimulator of interferon genes (STING)-dependent autophagy. Similarly, mice vaccinated with rBCG showed early increased expression of Il-1β, Il-18, and Tmem173 (transmembrane protein 173; also known as STING).


rBCG stimulates AIM2 inflammasome activation and autophagy, suggesting that these cell-autonomous functions should be exploited for improved vaccine design.


autophagy; inflammasome; innate immunity; macrophages; recombinant BCG ΔureC::hly; tuberculosis; vaccination

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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