Comparison of immunogenicity and vaccine efficacy between heat-shock proteins, HSP70 and GrpE, in the DnaK operon of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Woo Sik Kim, Jong Seok Kim, Hong Min Kim, Kee Woong Kwon, Seok Yong Eum, Sung Jae Shin

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Antigens (Ags) in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) that are constitutively expressed, overexpressed during growth, essential for survival, and highly conserved may be good vaccine targets if they induce the appropriate anti-Mtb Th1 immune response. In this context, stress response-related antigens of Mtb might serve as attractive targets for vaccine development as they are rapidly expressed and are up-regulated during Mtb infection in vivo. Our group recently demonstrated that GrpE, encoded by rv0351 as a cofactor of heat-shock protein 70 (HSP70) in the DnaK operon, is a novel immune activator that interacts with DCs to generate Th1-biased memory T cells in an antigen-specific manner. In this study, GrpE was evaluated as a subunit vaccine in comparison with the well-known HSP70 against the hyper-virulent Mtb Beijing K-strain. Both HSP70- and GrpE-specific effector/memory T cells expanded to a similar extent as those stimulated with ESAT-6 in the lung and spleen of Mtb-infected mice, but GrpE only produced a similar level of IFN-γ to that produced by ESAT-6 stimulation during the late phase and the early phase of Mtb K infection, indicating that GrpE is highly-well recognised by the host immune system as a T cell antigen. Mice immunised with the GrpE subunit vaccine displayed enhanced antigen-specific IFN-γ and serum IgG2c responses along with antigen-specific effector/memory T cell expansion in the lungs. In addition, GrpE-immunisation markedly induced multifunctional Th1-type CD4+ T cells co-expressing IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-2 in the lungs of Mtb K-infected mice, whereas HSP70-immunisation induced mixed Th1/Th2 immune responses. GrpE-immunisation conferred a more significant protective effect than that of HSP70-immunisation in terms of bacterial reduction and improved inflammation, accompanied by the remarkable persistence of GrpE-specific multifunctional CD4+ T cells. These results suggest that GrpE is an excellent vaccine antigen component for the development of a multi-antigenic Mtb subunit vaccine by generating Th1-biased memory T cells with multifunctional capacity, and confers durable protection against the highly virulent Mtb K.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14411
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1

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© 2018, The Author(s).

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  • General


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