BALB/c mice, but not C57BL/6 mice immunized with a ΔclpB mutant of Francisella tularensis subspecies tularensis are protected against respiratory challenge with wild-type bacteria: association of protection with post-vaccination and post-challenge immune responses

Vaccine. 2012 May 21;30(24):3634-45. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.03.036. Epub 2012 Apr 3.


Francisella tularensis subspecies tularensis is highly virulent for humans especially when it is inhaled. Therefore, it has the potential to be used as a biothreat agent. Vaccines against F. tularensis will need to be approved in accordance with the FDA Animal Rule. This will require identification of robust correlates of protection in experimental animals and the demonstration that similar immune responses are generated in vaccinated humans. Towards this goal, we have developed an experimental live vaccine strain by deleting the gene, clpB, encoding a heat shock protein from virulent subsp. tularensis strain, SCHU S4. SCHU S4ΔclpB administered intradermally protects BALB/c, but not C57BL/6 mice from subsequent respiratory challenge with wildtype SCHU S4. A comparison of post-vaccination and post-challenge immune responses in these two mouse strains shows an association between several antibody and cytokine responses and protection. In particular, elevated IFNγ levels in the skin 2 days after vaccination, sero-conversion to hypothetical membrane protein FTT_1778c, and to 30S ribosomal protein S1 (FTT_0183c) of F. tularensis after 30 days of vaccination, and elevated levels of pulmonary IL-17 on day 7 after respiratory challenge with SCHU S4 were all associated with protection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Bacteria
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Bacterial Vaccines / genetics
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Francisella tularensis / genetics
  • Francisella tularensis / immunology*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Injections, Intradermal
  • Lung / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Skin / immunology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tularemia / immunology
  • Tularemia / prevention & control*
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / genetics
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / immunology
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • Vaccines, Attenuated
  • Virulence Factors