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Conjugation of PspA4Pro with Capsular Streptococcus pneumoniae Polysaccharide Serotype 14 Does Not Reduce the Induction of Cross-Reactive Antibodies.

Current pneumococcal vaccines are composed of bacterial polysaccharides as antigens, plain or conjugated to carrier proteins. While efficacious against vaccine serotypes, epidemiologic data show an increasing incidence of infections caused by nonvaccine serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae The use of pneumococcal surface protein A (PspA) as a carrier protein in a conjugate vaccine could help prevent serotype replacement by increasing vaccine coverage and reducing selective pressure of S. pneumoniae serotypes. PspA is present in all pneumococcal strains, is highly immunogenic, and is known to induce protective antibodies. Based on its sequence, PspA has been classified into three families and six clades. A PspA fragment derived from family 2, clade 4 (PspA4Pro), was shown to generate antibodies with a broad range of cross-reactivity, across clades and families. Here, PspA4Pro was modified and conjugated to capsular polysaccharide serotype 14 (PS14). We investigated the impact of conjugation on the immune response induced to PspA4Pro and PS14. Mice immunized with the PS14-mPspA4Pro conjugate produced higher titers of anti-PS14 antibodies than the animals that received coadministered antigens. The conjugate induced antibodies with opsonophagocytic activity against PS14-carrying strains, as well as against a panel of strains bearing PspAs from five clades (encompassing families 1 and 2) bearing a non-PS14 serotype. Furthermore, mice immunized with PS14-mPspA4Pro were protected against nasal colonization with a nonrelated S. pneumoniae strain bearing PspA from clade 1, serotype 6B. These results demonstrate that the cross-reactivity mediated by PspA4Pro is retained following conjugation, supporting the use of PspA4 as a carrier protein in order to enhance pneumococcal vaccine coverage and encourage its further investigation as a candidate in future vaccine designs.

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