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Protective Vaccine Efficacy of the Complete Form of PPE39 Protein from Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing/K Strain in Mice.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the protective efficacy of MTBK_24820, a complete form of PPE39 protein derived from a predominant Beijing/K strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in South Korea. Mice were immunized with MTKB_24820, M. bovis Bacilli Calmette-Guérin (BCG), or adjuvant prior to a high-dosed Beijing/K strain aerosol infection. After 4 and 9 weeks, bacterial loads were determined and histopathologic and immunologic features in the lungs and spleens of the M. tuberculosis -infected mice were analyzed. Putative immunogenic T-cell epitopes were examined using synthetic overlapping peptides. Successful immunization of MTBK_24820 in mice was confirmed by increased IgG responses ( P < 0.05) and recalled gamma interferon (IFN-γ), interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-6, and IL-17 responses ( P < 0.05 or P < 0.01) to MTBK_24820. After challenge with the Beijing/K strain, an approximately 0.5 to 1.0 log10 reduction in CFU in lungs and fewer lung inflammation lesions were observed in MTBK_24820-immunized mice compared to those for control mice. Moreover, MTBK_24820 immunization elicited significantly higher numbers of CD4+ T cells producing protective cytokines, such as IFN-γ and IL-17, in lungs and spleens ( P < 0.01) and CD4+ multifunctional T cells producing IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and/or IL-17 ( P < 0.01) than in control mice, suggesting protection comparable to that of BCG against the hypervirulent Beijing/K strain. The dominant immunogenic T-cell epitopes that induced IFN-γ production were at the N terminus (amino acids 85 to 102 and 217 to 234). Its vaccine potential, along with protective immune responses in vivo , may be informative for vaccine development, particularly in regions where the M. tuberculosis Beijing/K-strain is frequently isolated from TB patients.

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