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Vaccine. 1993;11(2):126-35.

Stability, immunogenicity and expression of foreign antigens in bacterial vaccine vectors.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112.


The use of attenuated strains of Salmonella as vaccine vectors frequently involves the introduction of heterologous antigens on recombinant plasmids. To overcome the problem of plasmid instability, we have integrated the gene that codes for a potential immunogen into the chromosome of a galE mutant of Salmonella typhimurium. Comparative in vitro and in vivo studies were conducted between the strain carrying the gene chromosomally integrated and an isogenic strain carrying the same gene on a multicopy plasmid. Levels of expression of the foreign antigen were significantly lower when the antigen was expressed from the chromosome than when it was expressed from the plasmid. The in vivo maintenance of the genes coding for antigen expression was determined on organisms recovered from spleen, liver and Peyer's patches of orally inoculated mice. By 24 h postinoculation, the majority of tissue isolates from the plasmid-containing strain had lost the plasmid and the ability to synthesize the antigen. By contrast, 100% of the recovered cointegrate isolates retained the ability to express the antigen throughout the 21 days of the experiment. Significantly, humoral and mucosal antibody levels against the antigen were greater when the antigen was expressed from the plasmid stabilized by the presence of the antibiotic than when the antigen was expressed from the chromosome. These observations indicate that the most important event for the development of an immune response against a foreign antigen delivered by these vectors may be the initial amount of antigen that primes the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and not persistence of the vector in tissues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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