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Whole-Chain Tick Saliva Proteins Presented on Hepatitis B Virus Capsid-Like Particles Induce High-Titered Antibodies with Neutralizing Potential.

PloS one (2015-09-10)
Philipp Kolb, Reinhard Wallich, Michael Nassal
ABSTRACT

Ticks are vectors for various, including pathogenic, microbes. Tick saliva contains multiple anti-host defense factors that enable ticks their bloodmeals yet also facilitate microbe transmission. Lyme disease-causing borreliae profit specifically from the broadly conserved tick histamine release factor (tHRF), and from cysteine-rich glycoproteins represented by Salp15 from Ixodes scapularis and Iric-1 from Ixodes ricinus ticks which they recruit to their outer surface protein C (OspC). Hence these tick proteins are attractive targets for anti-tick vaccines that simultaneously impair borrelia transmission. Main obstacles are the tick proteins´ immunosuppressive activities, and for Salp15 orthologs, the lack of efficient recombinant expression systems. Here, we exploited the immune-enhancing properties of hepatitis B virus core protein (HBc) derived capsid-like particles (CLPs) to generate, in E. coli, nanoparticulate vaccines presenting tHRF and, as surrogates for the barely soluble wild-type proteins, cysteine-free Salp15 and Iric-1 variants. The latter CLPs were exclusively accessible in the less sterically constrained SplitCore system. Mice immunized with tHRF CLPs mounted a strong anti-tHRF antibody response. CLPs presenting cysteine-free Salp15 and Iric-1 induced antibodies to wild-type, including glycosylated, Salp15 and Iric-1. The broadly distributed epitopes included the OspC interaction sites. In vitro, the anti-Salp15 antibodies interfered with OspC binding and enhanced human complement-mediated killing of Salp15 decorated borreliae. A mixture of all three CLPs induced high titered antibodies against all three targets, suggesting the feasibility of combination vaccines. These data warrant in vivo validation of the new candidate vaccines´ protective potential against tick infestation and Borrelia transmission.

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