Vaccination With Recombinant Fusion Proteins Incorporating Toll-like Receptor Ligands Induces Rapid Cellular and Humoral Immunity

Vaccine. 2007 Jan 8;25(4):763-75. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2006.08.013. Epub 2006 Aug 22.


Recognition of specific pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) is mediated primarily by members of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) family. Stimulation through these receptors results in quantitative and qualitative changes in antigen presentation and cellular activation, thereby linking innate and adaptive immunity. Consequently, the incorporation of TLR-ligands into vaccines could result in more potent and efficacious vaccines. To test this hypothesis, we employed a recombinant fusion protein strategy using the TLR5 ligand flagellin fused to specific antigens to promote protective immunity. These purified recombinant fusion proteins demonstrated potent TLR5-specific NF-kappaB dependent activity in vitro. Immunization of mice with the recombinant-flagellin-OVA fusion protein STF2.OVA resulted in potent antigen-specific T and B cell responses that were equal to or better than responses induced by OVA emulsified in Complete Freund's adjuvant. These included rapid and consistent antigen-specific IgG(1) and IgG(2a) antibody responses that were detectable within 7 days of immunization, and the development of protective CD8 T cell responses. Moreover, the enhanced immunogenicity to OVA is dependant on the direct fusion to flagellin, as co-delivery of OVA with flagellin unlinked failed to augment antigen-specific responses in vivo. Similar results were obtained using a recombinant fusion protein comprised of flagellin and a novel polypetide sequence containing two immuno-protective epitopes derived from the Listeria monocytogenes antigens p60 and listeriolysin O. Animals immunized with this recombinant protein demonstrated significant antigen-specific CD8 T cell responses and protection upon challenge with virulent L. monocytogenes. We conclude that immunization with PAMP:antigen fusion proteins induce rapid and potent antigen-specific responses in the absence of supplemental adjuvants. Collectively our data demonstrate that PAMP:antigen fusion proteins offer significant promise for developing recombinant protein vaccines.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation*
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Flagellin / immunology
  • Flagellin / metabolism
  • Immunity, Cellular*
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / immunology*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism*
  • Vaccination


  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Ligands
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Flagellin
  • Ovalbumin