The pathogenic Yersiniae produce a range of virulence proteins, encoded by a 70 kb plasmid, which are essential for infection, and also form part of a contact-dependent virulence mechanism. One of these proteins, V antigen, has been shown to confer a high level of protection against parenteral infection with Y. pestis in murine models, and is considered to be a protective antigen. In this study, the protective efficacy of V antigen has been compared in the same model with that of other proteins (YopE, YopK and YopN), which are part of the contact-dependent virulence mechanism. Mice immunised with two intraperitoneal doses of V antigen or each of the Yops, administered with either Alhydrogel or interleukin-12, produced high antigen-specific serum IgG titres. As shown in previous studies, V+Alhydrogel was fully protective, and 5/5 mice survived a subcutaneous challenge with 90 or 9x10(3) LD50's of Y. pestis GB. In addition, these preliminary studies also showed that V+IL-12 was partially protective: 4/5 or 3/5 mice survived a challenge with 90 or 9x10(3) LD50's, respectively. In contrast, none of the mice immunised with the Yops survived the challenges, and there was no significant delay in the mean time to death compared to mice receiving a control protein. These results show that using two different vaccine regimens, Yops E, K and N, failed to elicit protective immune responses in a murine model of plague, whereas under the same conditions, V antigen was fully or partially protective.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.