The development of antibodies against specific glycan epitopes poses a significant challenge due to difficulties obtaining desired glycans at sufficient quantity and purity, and the fact that glycans are usually weakly immunogenic. To address this challenge, we leveraged the potent immunostimulatory activity of bacterial outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) to deliver designer glycan epitopes to the immune system. This approach involved heterologous expression of two clinically important glycans, namely polysialic acid (PSA) and Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen (T antigen) in hypervesiculating strains of non-pathogenic Escherichia coli. The resulting glycOMVs displayed structural mimics of PSA or T antigen on their surfaces, and induced high titers of glycan-specific IgG antibodies following immunization in mice. In the case of PSA glycOMVs, serum antibodies potently killed Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B (MenB), whose outer capsule is PSA, in a serum bactericidal assay. These findings demonstrate the potential of glycOMVs for inducing class-switched, humoral immune responses against glycan antigens.
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