Publications by authors named "Jeremy P Derrick"

77 Publications

Adverse immunological responses against non-viral nanoparticle (NP) delivery systems in the lung.

J Immunotoxicol 2021 Dec;18(1):61-73

Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

There is a large, unmet medical need to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other respiratory diseases. New modalities are being developed, including gene therapy which treats the disease at the DNA/RNA level. Despite recent innovations in non-viral gene therapy delivery for chronic respiratory diseases, unwanted or adverse interactions with immune cells, particularly macrophages, can limit drug efficacy. This review will examine the relationship between the design and fabrication of non-viral nucleic acid nanoparticle (NP) delivery systems and their ability to trigger unwanted immunogenic responses in lung tissues. NP formulated with peptides, lipids, synthetic and natural polymers provide a robust means of delivering the genetic cargos to the desired cells. However NP, or their components, may trigger local responses such as cell damage, edema, inflammation, and complement activation. These effects may be acute short-term reactions or chronic long-term effects like fibrosis, increased susceptibility to diseases, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer. This review examines the relationship between physicochemical properties, i.e. shape, charge, hydrophobicity, composition and stiffness, and interactions of NP with pulmonary immune cells. Inhalation is the ideal route of administration for direct delivery but inhaled NP encounter innate immune cells, such as alveolar macrophages (AM) and dendritic cells (DC), that perceive them as harmful foreign material, interfere with gene delivery to target cells, and can induce undesirable side effects. Recommendations for fabrication and formulation of gene therapies to avoid adverse immunological responses are given. These include fine tuning physicochemical properties, functionalization of the surface of NP to actively target diseased pulmonary cells and employing biomimetics to increase immunotolerance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1547691X.2021.1902432DOI Listing
December 2021

The Novel Membrane-Associated Auxiliary Factors AuxA and AuxB Modulate β-lactam Resistance in MRSA by stabilizing Lipoteichoic Acids.

Int J Antimicrob Agents 2021 Mar 24;57(3):106283. Epub 2021 Jan 24.

Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, Division of Infection, Immunity and Respiratory Medicine, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, M13 9PT, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

A major determinant of β-lactam resistance in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the drug insensitive transpeptidase, PBP2a, encoded by mecA. Full expression of the resistance phenotype requires auxiliary factors. Two such factors, auxiliary factor A (auxA, SAUSA300_0980) and B (auxB, SAUSA300_1003), were identified in a screen against mutants with increased susceptibility to β-lactams in the MRSA strain, JE2. auxA and auxB encode transmembrane proteins, with AuxA predicted to be a transporter. Inactivation of auxA or auxB enhanced β-lactam susceptibility in community-, hospital- and livestock-associated MRSA strains without affecting PBP2a expression, peptidoglycan cross-linking or wall teichoic acid synthesis. Both mutants displayed increased susceptibility to inhibitors of lipoteichoic acid (LTA) synthesis and alanylation pathways and released LTA even in the absence of β-lactams. The β-lactam susceptibility of the aux mutants was suppressed by mutations inactivating gdpP, which was previously found to allow growth of mutants lacking the lipoteichoic synthase enzyme, LtaS. Using the Galleria mellonella infection model, enhanced survival of larvae inoculated with either auxA or auxB mutants was observed compared with the wild-type strain following treatment with amoxicillin. These results indicate that AuxA and AuxB are central for LTA stability and potential inhibitors can be tools to re-sensitize MRSA strains to β-lactams and combat MRSA infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2021.106283DOI Listing
March 2021

Flowering Poration-A Synergistic Multi-Mode Antibacterial Mechanism by a Bacteriocin Fold.

iScience 2020 Aug 30;23(8):101423. Epub 2020 Jul 30.

National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington TW11 0LW, UK; Department of Physics, King's College London, Strand Lane, London WC2R, UK. Electronic address:

Bacteriocins are a distinct family of antimicrobial proteins postulated to porate bacterial membranes. However, direct experimental evidence of pore formation by these proteins is lacking. Here we report a multi-mode poration mechanism induced by four-helix bacteriocins, epidermicin NI01 and aureocin A53. Using a combination of crystallography, spectroscopy, bioassays, and nanoscale imaging, we established that individual two-helix segments of epidermicin retain antibacterial activity but each of these segments adopts a particular poration mode. In the intact protein these segments act synergistically to balance out antibacterial and hemolytic activities. The study sets a precedent of multi-mode membrane disruption advancing the current understanding of structure-activity relationships in pore-forming proteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.101423DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7424198PMC
August 2020

In silico design of a T-cell epitope vaccine candidate for parasitic helminth infection.

PLoS Pathog 2020 03 23;16(3):e1008243. Epub 2020 Mar 23.

Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine, and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, United Kingdom.

Trichuris trichiura is a parasite that infects 500 million people worldwide, leading to colitis, growth retardation and Trichuris dysentery syndrome. There are no licensed vaccines available to prevent Trichuris infection and current treatments are of limited efficacy. Trichuris infections are linked to poverty, reducing children's educational performance and the economic productivity of adults. We employed a systematic, multi-stage process to identify a candidate vaccine against trichuriasis based on the incorporation of selected T-cell epitopes into virus-like particles. We conducted a systematic review to identify the most appropriate in silico prediction tools to predict histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) molecule T-cell epitopes. These tools were used to identify candidate MHC-II epitopes from predicted ORFs in the Trichuris genome, selected using inclusion and exclusion criteria. Selected epitopes were incorporated into Hepatitis B core antigen virus-like particles (VLPs). Bone marrow-derived dendritic cells and bone marrow-derived macrophages responded in vitro to VLPs irrespective of whether the VLP also included T-cell epitopes. The VLPs were internalized and co-localized in the antigen presenting cell lysosomes. Upon challenge infection, mice vaccinated with the VLPs+T-cell epitopes showed a significantly reduced worm burden, and mounted Trichuris-specific IgM and IgG2c antibody responses. The protection of mice by VLPs+T-cell epitopes was characterised by the production of mesenteric lymph node (MLN)-derived Th2 cytokines and goblet cell hyperplasia. Collectively our data establishes that a combination of in silico genome-based CD4+ T-cell epitope prediction, combined with VLP delivery, offers a promising pipeline for the development of an effective, safe and affordable helminth vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008243DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7117776PMC
March 2020

An assessment of the use of Hepatitis B Virus core protein virus-like particles to display heterologous antigens from Neisseria meningitidis.

Vaccine 2020 04 13;38(16):3201-3209. Epub 2020 Mar 13.

Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. Electronic address:

Neisseria meningitidis is the causative agent of meningococcal meningitis and sepsis and remains a significant public health problem in many countries. Efforts to develop a comprehensive vaccine against serogroup B meningococci have focused on the use of surface-exposed outer membrane proteins. Here we report the use of virus-like particles derived from the core protein of Hepatitis B Virus, HBc, to incorporate antigen domains derived from Factor H binding protein (FHbp) and the adhesin NadA. The extracellular domain of NadA was inserted into the major immunodominant region of HBc, and the C-terminal domain of FHbp at the C-terminus (CFHbp), creating a single polypeptide chain 3.7-fold larger than native HBc. Remarkably, cryoelectron microscopy revealed that the construct formed assemblies that were able to incorporate both antigens with minimal structural changes to native HBc. Electron density was weak for NadA and absent for CFHbp, partly attributable to domain flexibility. Following immunization of mice, three HBc fusions (CFHbp or NadA alone, NadA + CFHbp) were able to induce production of IgG1, IgG2a and IgG2b antibodies reactive against their respective antigens at dilutions in excess of 1:18,000. However, only HBc fusions containing NadA elicited the production of antibodies with serum bactericidal activity. It is hypothesized that this improved immune response is attributable to the adoption of a more native-like folding of crucial conformational epitopes of NadA within the chimeric VLP. This work demonstrates that HBc can incorporate insertions of large antigen domains but that maintenance of their three-dimensional structure is likely to be critical in obtaining a protective response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.03.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113836PMC
April 2020

Higher mass meningococcal group C-tetanus toxoid vaccines conjugated with carbodiimide correlate with greater immunogenicity.

Vaccine 2020 03 20;38(13):2859-2869. Epub 2020 Feb 20.

Division of Bacteriology, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), Blanche Lane, South Mimms, Hertfordshire EN6 3QG, UK.

To examine the link between meningococcal C (MenC) vaccine size and immunogenic response, a panel of MenC glycoconjugate vaccines were prepared differing in chain length, molar mass and hydrodynamic volume. The preparations consisted of different lengths of MenC polysaccharide (PS) covalently linked to monomeric purified tetanus toxoid (TT) carrier protein using the coupling reagent ethylcarbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC). Size exclusion chromatography with multi-angle light scattering (SEC-MALS) and viscometry analysis confirmed that the panel of MenC-TT conjugates spanned masses of 191,500 to 2,348,000 g/mol, and hydrodynamic radii ranging from 12.1 to 47.9 nm. The two largest conjugates were elliptical in shape, whereas the two smallest conjugates were more spherical. The larger conjugates appeared to fit a model described by multiple TTs with cross-linked PS, typical of lattice-like networks described previously for TT conjugates, while the smaller conjugates were found to fit a monomeric or dimeric TT configuration. The effect of vaccine conjugate size on immune responses was determined using a two-dose murine immunization. The two larger panel vaccine conjugates produced higher anti-MenC IgG1 and IgG2b titres after the second dose. Larger vaccine conjugate size also stimulated greater T-cell proliferative responses in an in vitro recall assay, although cytokines indicative of a T-helper response were not measurable. In conclusion, larger MenC-TT conjugates up to 2,348,000 g/mol produced by EDC chemistry correlate with greater humoral and cellular murine immune responses. These observations suggest that conjugate size can be an important modulator of immune response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.02.012DOI Listing
March 2020

Advancing Therapeutic Protein Discovery and Development through Comprehensive Computational and Biophysical Characterization.

Mol Pharm 2020 02 7;17(2):426-440. Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Department of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmaceutics , Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen , Butenandtstrasse 5 , 81377 Munich , Germany.

Therapeutic protein candidates should exhibit favorable properties that render them suitable to become drugs. Nevertheless, there are no well-established guidelines for the efficient selection of proteinaceous molecules with desired features during early stage development. Such guidelines can emerge only from a large body of published research that employs orthogonal techniques to characterize therapeutic proteins in different formulations. In this work, we share a study on a diverse group of proteins, including their primary sequences, purity data, and computational and biophysical characterization at different pH and ionic strength. We report weak linear correlations between many of the biophysical parameters. We suggest that a stability comparison of diverse therapeutic protein candidates should be based on a computational and biophysical characterization in multiple formulation conditions, as the latter can largely determine whether a protein is above or below a certain stability threshold. We use the presented data set to calculate several stability risk scores obtained with an increasing level of analytical effort and show how they correlate with protein aggregation during storage. Our work highlights the importance of developing combined risk scores that can be used for early stage developability assessment. We suggest that such scores can have high prediction accuracy only when they are based on protein stability characterization in different solution conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.9b00852DOI Listing
February 2020

The impact of thioredoxin reduction of allosteric disulfide bonds on the therapeutic potential of monoclonal antibodies.

J Biol Chem 2019 12 14;294(51):19616-19634. Epub 2019 Nov 14.

Division of Biotherapeutics, The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, Blanche Lane, South Mimms, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 3QG, United Kingdom

Therapeutic mAbs are used to manage a wide range of cancers and autoimmune disorders. However, mAb-based treatments are not always successful, highlighting the need for a better understanding of the factors influencing mAb efficacy. Increased levels of oxidative stress associated with several diseases are counteracted by the activities of various oxidoreductase enzymes, such as thioredoxin (Trx), which also reduces allosteric disulfide bonds in proteins, including mAbs. Here, using an array of assays, we explored the functional effects of Trx-mediated reduction on the mechanisms of action of six therapeutic mAbs. We found that Trx reduces the interchain disulfide bonds of the mAbs, after which they remain intact but have altered function. In general, this reduction increased antigen-binding capacity, resulting in, for example, enhanced tumor necrosis factor (TNF) neutralization by two anti-TNF mAbs. Conversely, Trx reduction decreased the antiproliferative activity of an anti-tyrosine kinase-type cell-surface receptor HER2 mAb. In all of the mAbs, Fc receptor binding was abrogated by Trx activity, with significant loss in both complement-dependent cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) activity of the mAbs tested. We also confirmed that without alkylation, Trx-reduced interchain disulfide bonds reoxidize, and ADCC activity is restored. In summary, Trx-mediated reduction has a substantial impact on the functional effects of an mAb, including variable effects on antigen binding and Fc function, with the potential to significantly impact mAb efficacy .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.RA119.010637DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6926469PMC
December 2019

Arginine to Lysine Mutations Increase the Aggregation Stability of a Single-Chain Variable Fragment through Unfolded-State Interactions.

Biochemistry 2019 08 31;58(32):3413-3421. Epub 2019 Jul 31.

Manchester Institute of Biotechnology , University of Manchester , Manchester M1 7DN , United Kingdom.

Increased protein solubility is known to correlate with an increase in the proportion of lysine over arginine residues. Previous work has shown that the aggregation propensity of a single-chain variable fragment (scFv) does not correlate with its conformational stability or native-state protein-protein interactions. Here, we test the hypothesis that aggregation is driven by the colloidal stability of partially unfolded states, studying the behavior of scFv mutants harboring single or multiple site-specific arginine to lysine mutations in denaturing buffers. In 6 M guanidine hydrochloride (GdmCl) or 8 M urea, repulsive protein-protein interactions were measured for the wild-type and lysine-enriched (4RK) scFvs reflecting weakened short-range attractions and increased excluded volume. In contrast to the arginine-enriched mutant (7KR) scFv exhibited strong reversible association. In 3 M GdmCl, the minimum concentration at which the scFvs were unfolded, the hydrodynamic radius of 4RK remained constant but increased for the wild type and especially for 7KR. Studies of single-point arginine to lysine scFv mutants indicated that the observed aggregation propensity of arginine under denaturing conditions was nonspecific. Interestingly, one such swap generated a scFv with especially low aggregation rates under low/high ionic strengths and denaturing buffers; molecular modeling identified hydrogen bonding between the arginine side chain and main chain peptide groups, stabilizing the structure. The arginine/lysine ratio is not routinely considered in biopharmaceutical scaffold design or current amyloid prediction methods. This work therefore suggests a simple method for increasing the stability of a biopharmaceutical protein against aggregation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.biochem.9b00367DOI Listing
August 2019

Structure and Properties of a Natural Competence-Associated Pilin Suggest a Unique Pilus Tip-Associated DNA Receptor.

mBio 2019 06 11;10(3). Epub 2019 Jun 11.

Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

Natural competence is the term used to describe the uptake of "naked" extracellular DNA by bacteria; it plays a significant role in horizontal genetic exchange. It is associated with type IV pili, and specialized competence pili mediate DNA uptake. Here, we show that the crystal structure of a competence-associated protein from , ComZ, consists of a type II secretion pseudopilin-like domain, with a large β-solenoid domain inserted into the β-sheet of the pilin-like fold. ComZ binds with high affinity to another competence-associated pilin, PilA2, which lies adjacent to the gene in the genome. The crystal structure of PilA2 revealed a similar type II secretion pseudopilin-like fold, with a small subdomain; docking simulations predicted that PilA2 binds between the pseudopilin-like and β-solenoid domains of ComZ. Electrophoretic shift analysis and DNase protection studies were used to show that ComZ alone and the ComZ/PilA2 complex are able to bind DNA. Protection against reductive dimethylation was used in combination with mass spectrometry and site-directed mutagenesis to identify two lysine residues in ComZ which are involved in DNA binding. They are located between the two domains in ComZ, on the opposite side from the predicted PilA2 binding site. These results suggest a model in which PilA2 assists ComZ in forming the competence pilus tip and DNA binds to the side of the fiber. The results demonstrate how a type IV pilin can be adapted to a specific function by domain insertion and provide the first structural insights into a tip-located competence pilin. is a thermophilic bacterium which is capable of natural transformation, the uptake of external DNA with high efficiency. DNA uptake is thought to be mediated by a competence-associated pilus, which binds the DNA substrate and mediates its transfer across the outer membrane and periplasm. Here, we describe the structural and functional analysis of two pilins which are known to be essential for DNA uptake, ComZ and PilA2. ComZ adopts an unusual structure, incorporating a large β-solenoid domain into the pilin structural framework. We argue on structural grounds that this structure cannot readily be accommodated into the competence pilus fiber unless it is at the tip. We also show that ComZ binds DNA and identify two lysine residues which appear to be important for DNA binding. These results suggest a model in which ComZ and PilA2 form a tip-associated DNA receptor which mediates DNA uptake.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00614-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6561018PMC
June 2019

Interaction of a Macrocycle with an Aggregation-Prone Region of a Monoclonal Antibody.

Mol Pharm 2019 07 24;16(7):3100-3108. Epub 2019 May 24.

School of Biological Sciences, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre , The University of Manchester , Manchester M13 9PL , U.K.

Colloidal stability is among the key challenges the pharmaceutical industry faces during the production and manufacturing of protein therapeutics. Self-association and aggregation processes can not only impair therapeutic efficacy but also induce immunogenic responses in patients. Aggregation-prone regions (APRs) consisting of hydrophobic patches are commonly identified as the source for colloidal instability, and rational strategies to mitigate aggregation propensity often require genetic engineering to eliminate hydrophobic amino acid residues. Here, we investigate cucurbit[7]uril (CB[7]), a water-soluble macrocycle able to form host-guest complexes with aromatic amino acid residues, as a potential excipient to mitigate protein aggregation propensity. Two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), one harboring an APR and one lacking an APR, were first assessed for their colloidal stability (measured as the translational diffusion coefficient) in the presence and absence of CB[7] using dynamic light scattering. Due to the presence of a tryptophan residue within the APR, we were able to monitor changes in intrinsic fluorescence in response to increasing concentrations of CB[7]. Isothermal titration calorimetry and NMR spectroscopy were then used to characterize the putative host-guest interaction. Our results suggest a stabilizing effect of CB[7] on the aggregation-prone mAb, due to the specific interaction of CB[7] with aromatic amino acid residues located within the APR. This provides a starting point for exploring CB[7] as a candidate excipient for the formulation of aggregation-prone mAbs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.9b00338DOI Listing
July 2019

Immunogenicity profiling of protein antigens from capsular group B Neisseria meningitidis.

Sci Rep 2019 05 2;9(1):6843. Epub 2019 May 2.

Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.

Outer membrane vesicle (OMV)- based vaccines have been used to provide strain-specific protection against capsular group B Neisseria meningitidis infections, but the full breadth of the immune response against the components of the OMV has not been established. Sera from adults vaccinated with an OMV vaccine were used to screen 91 outer membrane proteins (OMPs) incorporated in an antigen microarray panel. Antigen-specific IgG levels were quantified pre-vaccination, and after 12 and 18 weeks. These results were compared with IgG levels from mice vaccinated with the same OMV vaccine. The repertoires of highly responding antigens in humans and mice overlapped, but were not identical. The highest responding antigens to human IgG comprised four integral OMPs (PorA, PorB, OpcA and PilQ), a protein which promotes the stability of PorA and PorB (RmpM) and two lipoproteins (BamC and GNA1162). These observations will assist in evaluating the role of minor antigen components within OMVs in providing protection against meningococcal infection. In addition, the relative dominance of responses to integral OMPs in humans emphasizes the importance of this subclass and points to the value of maintaining conformational epitopes from integral membrane proteins in vaccine formulations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-43139-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6497663PMC
May 2019

Impact of a Heat Shock Protein Impurity on the Immunogenicity of Biotherapeutic Monoclonal Antibodies.

Pharm Res 2019 Feb 15;36(4):51. Epub 2019 Feb 15.

School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology Medicine and Health Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, The University of Manchester, Michael Smith Building Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK.

Purpose: Anti-drug antibodies can impair the efficacy of therapeutic proteins and, in some circumstances, induce adverse health effects. Immunogenicity can be promoted by aggregation; here we examined the ability of recombinant mouse heat shock protein 70 (rmHSP70) - a common host cell impurity - to modulate the immune responses to aggregates of two therapeutic mAbs in mice.

Methods: Heat and shaking stress methods were used to generate aggregates in the sub-micron size range from two human mAbs, and immunogenicity assessed by intraperitoneal exposure in BALB/c mice.

Results: rmHSP70 was shown to bind preferentially to aggregates of both mAbs, but not to the native, monomeric proteins. Aggregates supplemented with 0.1% rmHSP70 induced significantly enhanced IgG2a antibody responses compared with aggregates alone but the effect was not observed for monomeric mAbs. Dendritic cells pulsed with mAb aggregate showed enhanced IFNγ production on co-culture with T cells in the presence of rmHSP70.

Conclusion: The results indicate a Th1-skewing of the immune response by aggregates and show that murine rmHSP70 selectively modulates the immune response to mAb aggregates, but not monomer. These data suggest that heat shock protein impurities can selectively accumulate by binding to mAb aggregates and thus influence immunogenic responses to therapeutic proteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11095-019-2586-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394513PMC
February 2019

Identification of B cell epitopes enhanced by protein unfolding and aggregation.

Mol Immunol 2019 01 11;105:181-189. Epub 2018 Dec 11.

Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK. Electronic address:

Aggregation of therapeutic proteins is a key factor in the generation of unwanted immunogenicity, and can result in reduced serum half-life, neutralization of function and adverse health effects. There is currently little information regarding how aggregates interact with B-cell receptors or cognate antibodies at the protein sequence level, or whether non-native, aggregate-induced epitopes predominate in these interactions. Using an antibody fragment (single chain antibody variable fragment; scFv) that forms aggregates readily at low temperature, anti-scFv IgG antibody responses were generated by intraperitoneal injection of BALB/c strain mice with monomer or aggregate preparations. Aggregate-specific immunosignatures were identified by oligo-peptide microarray fine epitope mapping, using overlapping 15mer peptides based on the linear sequence of scFv, printed onto glass slides. IgG antibodies from mice immunized with aggregated scFv preferentially recognized a patch of overlapping peptides. This region mapped to a β-strand located at the interface between the V and V domains. Molecular dynamics simulations indicated that the V domain is less stable than the V domain, suggesting the interface region between the two domains becomes exposed during partial unfolding of the scFv during aggregate formation. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that epitopes from partially unfolded states are revealed, or are more fully exposed, in the aggregated state, and that this can augment the IgG antibody response. This observation offers the theoretical possibility that epitopes preferentially associated with aggregates can be identified from the anti-drug antibody serum IgG response which may, in turn, lead to better methods for detection of anti-drug antibody responses, and improved design of therapeutic proteins to control immunogenicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molimm.2018.11.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6344229PMC
January 2019

Structural cycle of the Thermus thermophilus PilF ATPase: the powering of type IVa pilus assembly.

Sci Rep 2018 09 19;8(1):14022. Epub 2018 Sep 19.

School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK.

Type IV pili are responsible for a diverse range of functions, including twitching motility and cell adhesion. Assembly of the pilus fiber is driven by a cytoplasmic ATPase: it interacts with an inner membrane complex of biogenesis proteins which, in turn, bind to nascent pilin subunits and mediate fiber assembly. Here we report the structural characterization of the PilF TFP assembly ATPase from Thermus thermophilus. The crystal structure of a recombinant C-terminal fragment of PilF revealed bound, unhydrolysed ATP, although the full length complex was enzymatically active. 3D reconstructions were carried out by single particle cryoelectron microscopy for full length apoprotein PilF and in complex with AMPPNP. The structure forms an hourglass-like shape, with the ATPase domains in one half and the N1 domains in the second half which, we propose, interact with the other pilus biogenesis components. Molecular models for both forms were generated: binding of AMPPNP causes an upward shift of the N1 domains towards the ATPase domains of ~8 Å. We advocate a model in which ATP hydrolysis is linked to displacement of the N1 domains which is associated with lifting pilin subunits out of the inner membrane, and provide the activation energy needed to form the pilus fiber.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-32218-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6145873PMC
September 2018

F NMR as a Tool for Monitoring Individual Differentially Labeled Proteins in Complex Mixtures.

Mol Pharm 2018 07 12;15(7):2785-2796. Epub 2018 Jun 12.

Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Engineering , University of Manchester , Manchester M1 7DN , U.K.

The ability to monitor the behavior of individual proteins in complex mixtures has many potential uses, ranging from analysis of protein interactions in highly concentrated solutions, modeling biological fluids or the intracellular environment, to optimizing biopharmaceutical co-formulations. Differential labeling NMR approaches, which traditionally use N or C isotope incorporation during recombinant expression, are not always practical in cases when endogenous proteins are obtained from an organism, or where the expression system does not allow for efficient labeling, especially for larger proteins. This study proposes differential labeling of proteins by covalent attachment of F groups with distinct chemical shifts, giving each protein a unique spectral signature which can be monitored by F NMR without signal overlap, even in complex mixtures, and without any interfering signals from the buffer or other unlabeled components. Parameters, such as signal intensities, translational diffusion coefficients, and transverse relaxation rates, which report on the behavior of individual proteins in the mixture, can be recorded even for proteins as large as antibodies at a wide range of concentrations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.8b00282DOI Listing
July 2018

DprA from Neisseria meningitidis: properties and role in natural competence for transformation.

Microbiology (Reading) 2017 07 21;163(7):1016-1029. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Department of Microbiology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.

DNA processing chain A (DprA) is a DNA-binding protein that is ubiquitous in bacteria and expressed in some archaea. DprA is active in many bacterial species that are competent for transformation of DNA, but its role in Neisseriameningitidis (Nm) is not well characterized. An Nm mutant lacking DprA was constructed, and the phenotypes of the wild-type and ΔdprA mutant were compared. The salient feature of the phenotype of dprA null cells is the total lack of competence for genetic transformation shown by all of the donor DNA substrates tested in this study. Here, Nm wild-type and dprA null cells appeared to be equally resistant to genotoxic stress. The gene encoding DprANm was cloned and overexpressed, and the biological activities of DprANm were further investigated. DprANm binds ssDNA more strongly than dsDNA, but lacks DNA uptake sequence-specific DNA binding. DprANm dimerization and interaction with the C-terminal part of the single-stranded binding protein SSBNmwere demonstrated. dprA is co-expressed with smg, a downstream gene of unknown function, and the gene encoding topoisomerase 1, topA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/mic.0.000489DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5817196PMC
July 2017

Structure of the Neisseria Adhesin Complex Protein (ACP) and its role as a novel lysozyme inhibitor.

PLoS Pathog 2017 Jun 29;13(6):e1006448. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

Neisseria Research, Molecular Microbiology, Academic Unit of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Sir Henry Wellcome Laboratories, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine, Southampton, United Kingdom.

Pathogenic and commensal Neisseria species produce an Adhesin Complex Protein, which was first characterised in Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) as a novel surface-exposed adhesin with vaccine potential. In the current study, the crystal structure of a recombinant (r)Nm-ACP Type I protein was determined to 1.4 Å resolution: the fold resembles an eight-stranded β-barrel, stabilized by a disulphide bond between the first (Cys38) and last (Cys121) β-strands. There are few main-chain hydrogen bonds linking β4-β5 and β8-β1, so the structure divides into two four-stranded anti-parallel β-sheets (β1-β4 and β5-β8). The computed surface electrostatic charge distribution showed that the β1-β4 sheet face is predominantly basic, whereas the β5-β8 sheet is apolar, apart from the loop between β4 and β5. Concentrations of rNm-ACP and rNeisseria gonorrhoeae-ACP proteins ≥0.25 μg/ml significantly inhibited by ~80-100% (P<0.05) the in vitro activity of human lysozyme (HL) over 24 h. Specificity was demonstrated by the ability of murine anti-Neisseria ACP sera to block ACP inhibition and restore HL activity. ACP expression conferred tolerance to HL activity, as demonstrated by significant 3-9 fold reductions (P<0.05) in the growth of meningococcal and gonococcal acp gene knock-out mutants in the presence of lysozyme. In addition, wild-type Neisseria lactamica treated with purified ACP-specific rabbit IgG antibodies showed similar fold reductions in bacterial growth, compared with untreated bacteria (P<0.05). Nm-ACPI is structurally similar to the MliC/PliC protein family of lysozyme inhibitors. However, Neisseria ACP proteins show <20% primary sequence similarity with these inhibitors and do not share any conserved MliC/PliC sequence motifs associated with lysozyme recognition. These observations suggest that Neisseria ACP adopts a different mode of lysozyme inhibition and that the ability of ACP to inhibit lysozyme activity could be important for host colonization by both pathogenic and commensal Neisseria organisms. Thus, ACP represents a dual target for developing Neisseria vaccines and drugs to inhibit host-pathogen interactions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006448DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5507604PMC
June 2017

Surrogate CD16-expressing effector cell lines for determining the bioactivity of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

J Pharm Biomed Anal 2017 Sep 9;143:188-198. Epub 2017 Jun 9.

Cytokines and Growth Factors Section, Biotherapeutics Group, NIBSC, Blanche Ln, South Mimms, Potters Bar EN6 3QG, UK.

Traditional antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) assays use donor derived natural killer (NK) or peripheral blood mononuclear cells, but donor genetic variability and the technically challenging nature of the assay means that alternative in vitro assay formats are required. We explored the utility of two reporter gene cell lines, the J2 and J9, as surrogate effector cells for ADCC assays. Both express the ADCC relevant Fcγ receptor CD16, crosslinking of which leads to firefly luciferase expression. For anti-CD20 rituximab and anti-HER2 trastuzumab (both IgG1 monoclonal antibodies, mAbs) a dose dependent firefly luciferase response was observed exclusively in the presence of their respective targets, representing the molecular interaction which potentiates ADCC activity. Importantly, both surrogate effector and NK cell based assays gave statistically similar values for rituximab ADCC activity. Increased engagement with target cell bound mAbs was determined to be cytotoxic for the J2 and J9 cell lines at the assay end point (at which luciferase expression is measured). However, use of the J9 cells containing the constitutively expressed renilla luciferase gene enabled data normalisation and corrected for fluctuations in both cell number and viability providing an advantage over currently available surrogate effector cell-lines. Abrogated ADCC activity with IgG4 mAbs, but enhanced activity with an IgG1 non-fucosylated mAb, was seen with the J9 cell line, as expected. Additionally, two rituximab products (biosimilars in development) with similar binding by flow cytometry, N-glycan profiles using HPLC and CD16 binding by surface plasmon resonance showed comparable ADCC activity to Mabthera. The ADCC activity of another anti-CD20 mAb, ofatumumab, reported only with primary cell based assays to date was also measured. This is the first report of a dual reporter gene based ADCC assay.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpba.2017.06.004DOI Listing
September 2017

The effect of charge mutations on the stability and aggregation of a human single chain Fv fragment.

Eur J Pharm Biopharm 2017 Jun 1;115:18-30. Epub 2017 Feb 1.

School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, University of Manchester, M1 7DN, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

The aggregation propensities for a series of single-chain variable fragment (scFv) mutant proteins containing supercharged sequences, salt bridges and lysine/arginine-enriched motifs were characterised as a function of pH and ionic strength to isolate the electrostatic contributions. Recent improvements in aggregation predictors rely on using knowledge of native-state protein-protein interactions. Consistent with previous findings, electrostatic contributions to native protein-protein interactions correlate with aggregate growth pathway and rates. However, strong reversible self-association observed for selected mutants under native conditions did not correlate with aggregate growth, indicating 'sticky' surfaces that are exposed in the native monomeric state are inaccessible when aggregates grow. We find that even though similar native-state protein-protein interactions occur for the arginine and lysine-enriched mutants, aggregation propensity is increased for the former and decreased for the latter, providing evidence that lysine suppresses interactions between partially folded states under these conditions. The supercharged mutants follow the behaviour observed for basic proteins under acidic conditions; where excess net charge decreases conformational stability and increases nucleation rates, but conversely reduces aggregate growth rates due to increased intermolecular electrostatic repulsion. The results highlight the limitations of using conformational stability and native-state protein-protein interactions as predictors for aggregation propensity and provide guidance on how to engineer stabilizing charged mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpb.2017.01.019DOI Listing
June 2017

A single dose of epidermicin NI01 is sufficient to eradicate MRSA from the nares of cotton rats.

J Antimicrob Chemother 2017 03;72(3):778-781

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

Objectives: To investigate the efficacy of a potent novel antimicrobial protein of mass 6 kDa, epidermicin NI01, for eradicating the nasal burden of MRSA in a cotton rat ( Sigmodon hispidus ) model.

Methods: MRSA strain ATCC 43300 was used to establish a robust colonization of cotton rat nares. This model was used to evaluate the efficacy of topical 0.04% and 0.2% epidermicin NI01, administered twice daily for 3 days consecutively, and topical 0.8% epidermicin NI01 administered once, for reducing nasal MRSA burden. Control groups remained untreated or were administered vehicle only (0.5% hydroxypropylmethylcellulose) or 2% mupirocin twice daily for 3 days. The experiment was terminated at day 5 and MRSA quantitative counts were determined. Tissues recovered from animals treated with 0.2% epidermicin twice daily for 3 days were examined for histological changes.

Results: Mupirocin treatment resulted in a reduction in burden of log 10 (log R) of 2.59 cfu/nares compared with vehicle ( P  < 0.0001). Epidermicin NI01 administered once at 0.8% showed excellent efficacy, resulting in a log R of 2.10 cfu/nares ( P  = 0.0004), which was equivalent to mupirocin. Epidermicin NI01 administered at 0.2% or 0.04% twice daily for 3 days did not have a significant impact on the tissue burden recovered from the nares. Mild to marked histological abnormalities were noted, but these were determined to be reversible.

Conclusion: A single dose of topical epidermicin NI01 was as effective as mupirocin administered twice daily for 3 days in eradication of MRSA from the nares of cotton rats. This justifies further development of epidermicin for this indication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jac/dkw457DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5400076PMC
March 2017

Influence of Escherichia coli chaperone DnaK on protein immunogenicity.

Immunology 2017 03 7;150(3):343-355. Epub 2016 Dec 7.

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

The production of anti-drug antibodies can impact significantly upon the safety and efficacy of biotherapeutics. It is known that various factors, including aggregation and the presence of process-related impurities, can modify and augment the immunogenic potential of proteins. The purpose of the investigations reported here was to characterize in mice the influence of aggregation and host cell protein impurities on the immunogenicity of a humanized single-chain antibody variable fragment (scFv), and mouse albumin. Host cell protein impurities within an scFv preparation purified from Escherichia coli displayed adjuvant-like activity for responses to the scFv in BALB/c strain mice. The 70 000 MW E. coli chaperone protein DnaK was identified as a key contaminant of scFv by mass spectrometric analysis. Preparations of scFv lacking detectable DnaK were spiked with recombinant E. coli DnaK to mimic the process-related impurity. Mice were immunized with monomeric and aggregated preparations, with and without 0·1% DnaK by mass. Aggregation alone enhanced IgM and IgG2a antibody responses, but had no significant effect on total IgG or IgG1 responses. The addition of DnaK further enhanced IgG and IgG2a antibody responses, but only in the presence of aggregated protein. DnaK was shown to be associated with the aggregated scFv by Western blot analysis. Experiments with mouse albumin showed an overall increase in immunogenicity with protein aggregation alone, and the presence of DnaK increased the vigour of the IgG2a antibody response further. Collectively these data reveal that DnaK has the potential to modify and enhance immunogenicity when associated with aggregated protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imm.12689DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5290234PMC
March 2017

Proofreading of substrate structure by the Twin-Arginine Translocase is highly dependent on substrate conformational flexibility but surprisingly tolerant of surface charge and hydrophobicity changes.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2016 12 13;1863(12):3116-3124. Epub 2016 Sep 13.

School of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NJ, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

The Tat system transports folded proteins across the bacterial plasma membrane, and in Escherichia coli preferentially transports correctly-folded proteins. Little is known of the mechanism by which Tat proofreads a substrate's conformational state, and in this study we have addressed this question using a heterologous single-chain variable fragment (scFv) with a defined structure. We introduced mutations to surface residues while leaving the folded structure intact, and also tested the importance of conformational flexibility. We show that while the scFv is stably folded and active in the reduced form, formation of the 2 intra-domain disulphide bonds enhances Tat-dependent export 10-fold, indicating Tat senses the conformational flexibility and preferentially exports the more rigid structure. We further show that a 26-residue unstructured tail at the C-terminus blocks export, suggesting that even this short sequence can be sensed by the proofreading system. In contrast, the Tat system can tolerate significant changes in charge or hydrophobicity on the scFv surface; substitution of uncharged residues by up to 3 Lys-Glu pairs has little effect, as has the introduction of up to 5 Lys or Glu residues in a confined domain, or the introduction of a patch of 4 to 6 Leu residues in a hydrophilic region. We propose that the proofreading system has evolved to sense conformational flexibility and detect even very transiently-exposed internal regions, or the presence of unfolded peptide sections. In contrast, it tolerates major changes in surface charge or hydrophobicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamcr.2016.09.006DOI Listing
December 2016

Structures of type IV pilins from Thermus thermophilus demonstrate similarities with type II secretion system pseudopilins.

J Struct Biol 2016 12 6;196(3):375-384. Epub 2016 Sep 6.

Michael Smith Building, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK. Electronic address:

Type IV pilins are proteins which form polymers that extend from the surface of the bacterial cell; they are involved in mediating a wide variety of functions, including adhesion, motility and natural competence. Here we describe the determination of the crystal structures of three type IVa pilins proteins from the thermophile Thermus thermophilus. They form part of a cluster of pilus-like proteins within the genome; our results show that one, Tt1222, is very closely related to the main structural type IV pilin, PilA4. The other two, Tt1218 and Tt1219, also adopt canonical pilin-like folds but, interestingly, are most closely related to the structures of the type II secretion system pseudopilins, EpsI/GspI and XcpW/GspJ. GspI and GspJ have been shown to form a complex with another pseudopilin, GspK, and this heterotrimeric complex is known to play a key role in initiating assembly of a pseudopilus which is thought to drive the secretion process. The structural similarity of Tt1218 and Tt1219 to GspI and GspJ suggests that they might work in a similar way, to deliver functions associated with type IV pili in T. thermophilus, such as natural competence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsb.2016.08.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5131608PMC
December 2016

Editor's Highlight: Subvisible Aggregates of Immunogenic Proteins Promote a Th1-Type Response.

Toxicol Sci 2016 10 30;153(2):258-70. Epub 2016 Jun 30.

*Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, C1256, Michael Smith Building, Dover St, Manchester M13 9PT, UK;

Protein aggregation is associated with enhanced immunogenicity of biotherapeutics. As a result, regulatory guidelines recommend screening for aggregation during bioprocessing. However, the mechanisms underlying the enhanced immunogenicity of aggregates are poorly understood. In the investigations described herein, the immunogenicity in mice of a humanized single chain variable antibody fragment (scFv) purified after expression in Escherichia coli has been examined. Reproducible scFv aggregates were obtained within the subvisible particle size range (mean diameter 2 µm) using thermal and mechanical stresses. Intraperitoneal immunization of BALB/c strain mice with 1 mg/ml of aggregated or monomeric scFv induced similar IgG and IgG1 antibody responses. In contrast, aggregate preparations stimulated significantly higher levels of anti-scFv IgG2a antibody than did the monomer. In comparative studies, aggregates of ovalbumin (OVA) within the subvisible particle size range were prepared by stir stress, and their immunogenicity compared with that of monomeric OVA in mice. Aggregated and monomeric OVA induced similar anti-OVA IgG and IgG1 antibody responses, whereas IgG2a antibody levels were significantly higher in aggregate-immunized mice. Furthermore, cytokine profiles in supernatants taken from splenocyte-dendritic cell co-cultures were consistent with aggregated preparations inducing a T helper (Th) 1-type response. Aggregated proteins within the subvisible range were therefore shown to induce a preferential Th1 type response, whereas monomeric proteins elicited a selective Th2 response. These data indicate that protein aggregation can impact on both the vigor and quality of immune responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfw121DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5036615PMC
October 2016

Characterisation of the Immunomodulatory Effects of Meningococcal Opa Proteins on Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells and CD4+ T Cells.

PLoS One 2016 25;11(4):e0154153. Epub 2016 Apr 25.

Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Opa proteins are major surface-expressed proteins located in the Neisseria meningitidis outer membrane, and are potential meningococcal vaccine candidates. Although Opa proteins elicit high levels of bactericidal antibodies following immunisation in mice, progress towards human clinical trials has been delayed due to previous findings that Opa inhibits T cell proliferation in some in vitro assays. However, results from previous studies are conflicting, with different Opa preparations and culture conditions being used. We investigated the effects of various Opa+ and Opa- antigens from N. meningitidis strain H44/76 in a range of in vitro conditions using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and purified CD4+ T cells, measuring T cell proliferation by CFSE dilution using flow cytometry. Wild type recombinant and liposomal Opa proteins inhibited CD4+ T cell proliferation after stimulation with IL-2, anti-CD3 and anti-CD28, and these effects were reduced by mutation of the CEACAM1-binding region of Opa. These effects were not observed in culture with ex vivo PBMCs. Opa+ and Opa- OMVs did not consistently exert a stimulatory or inhibitory effect across different culture conditions. These data do not support a hypothesis that Opa proteins would be inhibitory to T cells if given as a vaccine component, and T cell immune responses to OMV vaccines are unlikely to be significantly affected by the presence of Opa proteins.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154153PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4844130PMC
March 2017

Dissection of the function of the RmpM periplasmic protein from Neisseria meningitidis.

Microbiology (Reading) 2016 Feb 16;162(2):364-375. Epub 2015 Dec 16.

Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PTUK.

RmpM is a periplasmic protein from Neisseria meningitidis that comprises an N-terminal domain (residues 1-47) and a separate globular C-terminal domain (residues 65-219) responsible for binding to peptidoglycan. Here we show, through the use of size exclusion chromatography and pull-down assays, that a recombinant N-terminal fragment of RmpM binds to both the major outer membrane porins, PorA and PorB. Analysis by semi-native SDS-PAGE established that both recombinant full-length RmpM and an N-terminal fragment, but not the C-terminal peptidoglycan-binding domain, were sufficient to stabilize the PorA and PorB oligomeric complexes. Evidence from binding assays indicated that the meso-diaminopimelate moiety plays an important role in peptidoglycan recognition by RmpM. Site-directed mutagenesis showed that two highly conserved residues, Asp120 and Arg135, play an important role in peptidoglycan binding. The yield of outer membrane vesicles, which have been used extensively as a vaccine against N. meningitidis, was considerably higher in an N. meningitidis strain expressing a truncated N-terminal fragment of RmpM (ΔC-term rmpM) than in the WT strain. The native oligomeric state of the PorA/PorB complexes was maintained in this strain. We conclude that the dual functions of RmpM are independent, and that it is possible to use this knowledge to engineer a strain with higher yield of outer membrane vesicles, whilst preserving PorA and PorB, which are key protective antigens, in their native oligomeric state.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/mic.0.000227DOI Listing
February 2016

FetA Antibodies Induced by an Outer Membrane Vesicle Vaccine Derived from a Serogroup B Meningococcal Isolate with Constitutive FetA Expression.

PLoS One 2015 14;10(10):e0140345. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

National Institute of Biological Standards and Control, South Mimms, Potters Bar, United Kingdom.

Invasive meningococcal disease causes over 3500 cases each year in Europe, with particularly high incidence among young children. Among serogroup B meningococci, which cause most of the cases, high diversity in the outer membrane proteins (OMPs) is observed in endemic situations; however, comprehensive molecular epidemiological data are available for the diversity and distribution of the OMPs PorA and FetA and these can be used to rationally design a vaccine with high coverage of the case isolates. The aim of this study was to determine whether outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) derived from an isolate with constitutive FetA expression (MenPF-1 vaccine) could be used to induce antibodies against both the PorA and FetA antigens. The immunogenicity of various dose levels and number of doses was evaluated in mice and rabbits, and IgG antibody responses tested against OMVs and recombinant PorA and FetA proteins. A panel of four isogenic mutants was generated and used to evaluate the relative ability of the vaccine to induce serum bactericidal activity (SBA) against FetA and PorA. Sera from mice were tested in SBA against the four target strains. Results demonstrated that the MenPF-1 OMVs were immunogenic against PorA and FetA in both animal models. Furthermore, the murine antibodies induced were bactericidal against isogenic mutant strains, suggesting that antibodies to both PorA and FetA were functional. The data presented indicate that the MenPF-1 vaccine is a suitable formulation for presenting PorA and FetA OMPs in order to induce bactericidal antibodies, and that proceeding to a Phase I clinical trial with this vaccine candidate is justified.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0140345PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4605655PMC
June 2016

An OMV Vaccine Derived from a Capsular Group B Meningococcus with Constitutive FetA Expression: Preclinical Evaluation of Immunogenicity and Toxicity.

PLoS One 2015 21;10(9):e0134353. Epub 2015 Sep 21.

Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Following the introduction of effective protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines against capsular group C meningococcal disease in Europe, meningococci of capsular group B remain a major cause of death and can result in debilitating sequelae. The outer membrane proteins PorA and FetA have previously been shown to induce bactericidal antibodies in humans. Despite considerable antigenic variation among PorA and FetA OMPs in meningococci, systematic molecular epidemiological studies revealed this variation is highly structured so that a limited repertoire of antigenic types is congruent with the hyperinvasive meningococcal lineages that have caused most of the meningococcal disease in Europe in recent decades. Here we describe the development of a prototype vaccine against capsular group B meningococcal infection based on a N. meningitidis isolate genetically engineered to have constitutive expression of the outer membrane protein FetA. Deoxycholate outer membrane vesicles (dOMVs) extracted from cells cultivated in modified Frantz medium contained 21.8% PorA protein, 7.7% FetA protein and 0.03 μg LPS per μg protein (3%). The antibody response to the vaccine was tested in three mouse strains and the toxicological profile of the vaccine was tested in New Zealand white rabbits. Administration of the vaccine, MenPF-1, when given by intramuscular injection on 4 occasions over a 9 week period, was well tolerated in rabbits up to 50 μg/dose, with no evidence of systemic toxicity. These data indicated that the MenPF-1 vaccine had a toxicological profile suitable for testing in a phase I clinical trial.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0134353PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4577077PMC
May 2016

The Cryo-EM structure of the CorA channel from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii in low magnesium conditions.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2015 Oct 4;1848(10 Pt A):2206-15. Epub 2015 Jun 4.

Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. Electronic address:

CorA channels are responsible for the uptake of essential magnesium ions by bacteria. X-ray crystal structures have been resolved for two full-length CorA channels, each in a non-conducting state with magnesium ions bound to the protein: These structures reveal a homo-pentameric quaternary structure with approximate 5-fold rotational symmetry about a central pore axis. We report the structure of the detergent solubilized Methanocaldococcus jannaschii CorA channel determined by Cryo-Electron Microscopy and Single Particle Averaging, supported by Small Angle X-ray Scattering and X-ray crystallography. This structure also shows a pentameric channel but with a highly asymmetric domain structure. The asymmetry of the domains includes differential separations between the trans-membrane segments, which reflects mechanical coupling of the cytoplasmic domain to the trans-membrane domain. This structure therefore reveals an important aspect of the gating mechanism of CorA channels by providing an indication of how the absence of magnesium ions leads to major structural changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamem.2015.06.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4579555PMC
October 2015