Chlamydial protease-like activity factor induces protective immunity against genital chlamydial infection in transgenic mice that express the human HLA-DR4 allele

Ashlesh K Murthy, Yu Cong, Cathi Murphey, M Neal Guentzel, Thomas G Forsthuber, Guangming Zhong, Bernard P Arulanandam
Infection and Immunity 2006, 74 (12): 6722-9
There is no licensed vaccine available against Chlamydia trachomatis, the leading cause of bacterial sexually transmitted disease. We have found that intranasal immunization with recombinant chlamydial protease-like activity factor (CPAF) induces CD4(+) T-cell- and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma)-dependent protective immunity against murine genital chlamydial infection, thus making CPAF a viable vaccine candidate for further characterization. HLA-DR4 is the predominant allele involved in chlamydial antigen presentation to CD4(+) T cells in humans. We used engineered mice that lack endogenous major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) alleles but express a human HLA allele (HLA-DR4 transgenic [tg] mice) to examine primary immune and CPAF-mediated responses against genital Chlamydia muridarum challenge. Upon primary bacterial exposure, HLA-DR4 tg mice developed Chlamydia-specific IFN-gamma and antibody production and resolved the infection within 30 days, similar to challenged conventional C57BL/6 animals. Moreover, C. muridarum-challenged HLA-DR4 tg mice exhibited CPAF-specific antibody and IFN-gamma production. Upon CPAF-plus-interleukin-12 (IL-12) vaccination, HLA-DR4 tg animals exhibited robust CPAF-specific IFN-gamma production and elevated titers of anti-CPAF total antibody and immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a) and lower titers of IgG2b and IgG1 antibodies. HLA-DR4 tg and C57BL/6 mice vaccinated with CPAF plus IL-12 resolved the primary genital chlamydial infection significantly earlier than mock-immunized animals, whereas similarly vaccinated MHC class II-deficient mice displayed minimal antigen-specific immune responses and failed to resolve the infection even at 30 days postchallenge. Together, these results demonstrate the importance of human HLA-DR4 molecules in the recognition and presentation of CPAF epitopes, leading to the generation of protective antichlamydial immunity and making these mice a valuable model for mapping HLA-DR4-restricted chlamydial epitopes.

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