Infection and immunity

Recombinant ESAT-6-like proteins provoke protective immune responses against invasive Staphylococcus aureus disease in a murine model.

PMID 25368117


Staphylococcus aureus is a common pathogen found in the community and in hospitals. Most notably, methicillin-resistant S. aureus is resistant to many antibiotics, which is a growing public health concern. The emergence of drug-resistant strains has prompted the search for alternative treatments, such as immunotherapeutic approaches. To date, most clinical trials of vaccines or of passive immunization against S. aureus have ended in failure. In this study, we investigated two ESAT-6-like proteins secreted by S. aureus, S. aureus EsxA (SaEsxA) and SaEsxB, as possible targets for a vaccine. Mice vaccinated with these purified proteins elicited high titers of anti-SaEsxA and anti-SaEsxB antibodies, but these antibodies could not prevent S. aureus infection. On the other hand, recombinant SaEsxA (rSaEsxA) and rSaEsxB could induce Th1- and Th17-biased immune responses in mice. Mice immunized with rSaEsxA and rSaEsxB had significantly improved survival rates when challenged with S. aureus compared with the controls. These findings indicate that SaEsxA and SaEsxB are two promising Th1 and Th17 candidate antigens which could be developed into multivalent and serotype-independent vaccines against S. aureus infection.