Prevention of Staphylococcus aureus infections by glycoprotein vaccines synthesized in Escherichia coli

J Infect Dis. 2014 May 15;209(10):1551-61. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit800. Epub 2013 Dec 5.


Background: Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of superficial and invasive human disease that is often refractory to antimicrobial therapy. Vaccines have the potential to reduce the morbidity, mortality, and economic impact associated with staphylococcal infections. However, single-component vaccines targeting S. aureus have failed to show efficacy in clinical trials.

Methods: A novel glycoengineering technology for creation of a multicomponent staphylococcal vaccine is described. Genes encoding S. aureus capsular polysaccharide (CP) biosynthesis, PglB (a Campylobacter oligosaccharyl transferase), and a protein carrier (detoxified Pseudomonas aeruginosa exoprotein A or S. aureus α toxin [Hla]) were coexpressed in Escherichia coli. Recombinant proteins N-glycosylated with S. aureus serotype 5 or 8 CPs were purified from E. coli.

Results: Rabbits and mice immunized with the glycoprotein vaccines produced antibodies that were active in vitro in functional assays. Active and passive immunization strategies targeting the CPs protected mice against bacteremia, and vaccines targeting Hla protected against lethal pneumonia. The CP-Hla bioconjugate vaccine protected against both bacteremia and lethal pneumonia, providing broad-spectrum efficacy against staphylococcal invasive disease.

Conclusions: Glycoengineering technology, whereby polysaccharide and protein antigens are enzymatically linked in a simple E. coli production system, has broad applicability for use in vaccine development against encapsulated microbial pathogens.

Keywords: Staphylococcus aureus; animal infection models; bacteremia; bioconjugate vaccine; capsular polysaccharides; glycoengineering; glycoprotein; pneumonia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology
  • Glycoconjugates / immunology
  • Glycoproteins / immunology*
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Staphylococcal Vaccines / immunology*
  • Staphylococcal Vaccines / metabolism
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology*
  • Vaccines, Synthetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Glycoconjugates
  • Glycoproteins
  • Staphylococcal Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Synthetic