CHARACTERIZATION OF OUTER MEMBRANE PROTEINS AND OUTER MEMBRANE VESICLES AND COMPARATIVE GENOMICS TO IDENTIFY VACCINE CANDIDATES IN FUSOBACTERIUM NECROPHORUM
Fusobacterium necrophorum is a Gram-negative, anaerobic, opportunistic pathogen that causes necrotic infections in cattle leading to liver abscess, foot rot, and calf diphtheria. Particularly, liver abscess in cattle is reported at 20.7% annually, and leads to liver condemnation and an annual economic burden of about 62 million dollars to the feedlot industry. Antibiotic administration is the mainstay of treating these infections, but antibiotic resistance is unavoidable and demand for antibiotic-free, natural, and organic beef has demanded alternative therapies and preventatives. Vaccination is one of the best alternatives to prophylactic antibiotic administration. In this study, we have explored outer membrane proteins (OMPs) and outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) for potential vaccine candidates. OMPs and OMVs are vaccine targets because of their antigenic properties and host specificity. Additionally, we performed comparative genomic analysis of F. necrophorum species to identify additional virulence genes with vaccine potential, unique to the F. necrophorum and its virulent subspecies necrophorum.
Protein- protein interaction investigation through binding assay and pulldown assay identified novel OMPs, namely 17kDa, 22kDa, and 66.3 kDa proteins, which were further characterized as OmpH, OmpA and Cell Surface Protein (CSP), respectively. In this study, these novel OMPs including previously characterized 43kDa OMPs were cloned, and recombinant proteins were expressed and purified. These recombinant proteins were used to generate polyclonal antibodies in rabbits, and their efficacy was studied using in vitro adhesion inhibition assays. The combination of two or more antibodies raised against the recombinant OMPs was significantly effective in reducing/neutralizing bacterial binding to bovine endothelial cells compared to individual antibody treatment. This suggests that a multiple subunit vaccine could be effective and provide sufficient evidence to perform in vivo studies.
Similarly, we purified OMVs of F. necrophorum subspecies necrophorum 8L1 and analyzed its content using proteomics and lipidomics. Out of 342 proteins identified by tandem liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS), OMPs and toxins were the most abundant. These included OMPs and toxins namely, 43 kDa OMP, OmpH, OmpA, CSP, FadA, leukotoxin family filamentous adhesin, N-terminal domain of hemagglutinin and other OMP transport and assembly factor protein. The presence of a subset of these proteins was further confirmed by western blot analysis. Lipidomics analysis showed that OMVs contained phospholipid, sphingolipid, and acetyl carnitine as the main lipid contents. Cytotoxicity assay on BL-3 cell line showed that these OMVs have a toxic effect on host immune cells and could impart immunomodulatory effect. All these findings suggest the vaccine potential of OMVs and demand dose-based in vivo study.
In addition, we identified and characterized 5 clinical isolates of F. necrophorum using comparative genomics, UBCG (Up-to-date Bacterial Core Gene) based analysis enabled phylogenetic characterization of 46 F. necrophorum genomes into subspecies specific clades. The pangenome and recombination analysis showed the extensive disparity in accessory genes resulting in species divergence. Strikingly, we detected antimicrobial resistance gene for macrolides and tetracycline in one strain of F. necrophorum, a harbinger of the start of resistance and necessitating search for an alternative prophylactic method. We also noted common virulence genes, including toxins, outer membrane adhesion proteins, cell envelope, type IV secretion system, ABC (ATP-binding cassette) transporters and transporter proteins in F. necrophorum strains. A focused study on these genes could help identify the main genes of virulence and inform effective vaccination strategies against fusobacterial infections.
Overall, the studies suggest adhesins and toxin and/or OMV-based subunit vaccine could be potential targets for vaccine development against fusobacterial infections.
- Master of Science
- Comparative Pathobiology
- West Lafayette