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Factor H-binding protein (fHbp) is a novel meningococcal vaccine candidate that elicits serum antibodies that activate classical complement pathway bacteriolysis and also inhibit binding of the complement down-regulatory protein, factor H, to the bacterial surface. One limitation of fHbp as a vaccine candidate is antigenic variability, since antibodies to fHbp in the variant 1 (v.1) antigenic group do not protect against strains expressing v.2 or v.3 proteins, and vice versa. We have identified amino acid residues of epitopes recognized by bactericidal anti-fHbp monoclonal antibodies prepared against fHbp from each of the variant groups. One epitope expressed by nearly all v.1 proteins mapped to the B domain, while epitopes expressed by fHbp v.2 or v.3 mapped to the C domain. The results provided the rationale for engineering chimeric fHbp molecules containing the A domain (which is conserved across all variant groups), a portion of the B domain of a v.1 protein, and the carboxyl-terminal portion of the B domain and the C domain of a v.2 protein. By enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, the resulting recombinant chimeric proteins expressed epitopes from all three variant groups. In mice, the chimeric vaccines elicited serum antibodies with bactericidal activity against a panel of genetically diverse strains expressing fHbp v.1, v.2, or v.3. The data demonstrate the feasibility of preparing a meningococcal vaccine from a single recombinant protein that elicits broad bactericidal activity, including group B strains, which account for 50 percent of cases of meningococcal disease and for which there currently is no broadly protective vaccine.


Peter T Beernink, Dan M Granoff. Bactericidal antibody responses induced by meningococcal recombinant chimeric factor H-binding protein vaccines. Infection and immunity. 2008 Jun;76(6):2568-75

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PMID: 18362128

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