Infection and immunity

Immunogenicity and in vitro and in vivo protective effects of antibodies targeting a recombinant form of the Streptococcus mutans P1 surface protein.

PMID 25225243


Streptococcus mutans is a major etiologic agent of dental caries, a prevalent worldwide infectious disease and a serious public health concern. The surface-localized S. mutans P1 adhesin contributes to tooth colonization and caries formation. P1 is a large (185-kDa) and complex multidomain protein considered a promising target antigen for anticaries vaccines. Previous observations showed that a recombinant P1 fragment (P1(39-512)), produced in Bacillus subtilis and encompassing a functional domain, induces antibodies that recognize the native protein and interfere with S. mutans adhesion in vitro. In the present study, we further investigated the immunological features of P1(39-512) in combination with the following different adjuvants after parenteral administration to mice: alum, a derivative of the heat-labile toxin (LT), and the phase 1 flagellin of S. Typhimurium LT2 (FliCi). Our results demonstrated that recombinant P1(39-512) preserves relevant conformational epitopes as well as salivary agglutinin (SAG)-binding activity. Coadministration of adjuvants enhanced anti-P1 serum antibody responses and affected both epitope specificity and immunoglobulin subclass switching. Importantly, P1(39-512)-specific antibodies raised in mice immunized with adjuvants showed significantly increased inhibition of S. mutans adhesion to SAG, with less of an effect on SAG-mediated bacterial aggregation, an innate defense mechanism. Oral colonization of mice by S. mutans was impaired in the presence of anti-P1(39-512) antibodies, particularly those raised in combination with adjuvants. In conclusion, our results confirm the utility of P1(39-512) as a potential candidate for the development of anticaries vaccines and as a tool for functional studies of S. mutans P1.