Comparative Vaccine Efficacy of Different Isoforms of Recombinant Protective Antigen Against Bacillus anthracis Spore Challenge in Rabbits
ARMY MEDICAL RESEARCH INST OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES FORT DETRICK MD
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The next-generation human anthrax vaccine developed by the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases USAMRIID is based upon purified Bacillus anthracis recombinant protective antigen rPA adsorbed to aluminum hydroxide adjuvant Alhydrogel. In addition to being safe, and effective, it is important that such a vaccine be fully characterized. Four major protein isoforms detected in purified rPA by native PAGE during research and development were reduced to two primary isoforms in bulk material produced by an improved process performed under Good Manufacturing Practices GMP. Analysis of both rPA preparations by a protein-isoaspartyl-methyl-transferase assay PIMT revealed the presence of increasing amounts of iso-aspartic acid correlating with isoform content and suggesting deamidation as the source of rPA charge heterogeneity. Additional purification of GMP rPA by anion exchange chromatography separated and enriched the two principal isoforms. The in vitro and in vivo biological activities of each isoform were measured in comparison to the whole GMP preparation. There was no significant difference in the biological activity of each isoform compared to GMP rPA when analyzed in the presence of lethal factor using a macrophage lysis assay. Vaccination with the two individual isoforms revealed no differences in cytotoxicity neutralization antibody titers when compared to the GMP preparation although one isoform induced more anti-PA IgG antibody than the GMP material. Most importantly, each of the two isoforms as well as the whole GMP preparation protected 90-100 of rabbits challenged parenterally with 129 LD50 of B. anthracis Ames spores. The equivalent biological activity and vaccine efficacy of the two isoforms suggests that further processing to separate isoforms is unnecessary for continued testing of this next-generation anthrax vaccine.