Deamidation of the recombinant protective antigen (rPA) correlates with decreased effectiveness of the vaccine in protecting against infection by Bacillus anthracis. We present data demonstrating dramatic deamidation of amino acid positions 713 and 719 of rPA adsorbed onto aluminum hydroxide gel, an adjuvant, relative to rPA stored in solution without adjuvant. Although deamidation did not impact total levels of rPA-specific antibodies in a mouse model, it did correlate with a decrease in toxin-neutralizing antibodies. On the basis of these data, we hypothesize that interactions of rPA with aluminum hydroxide gel are destabilizing and are the direct cause of reduced vaccine efficacy.
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