A Cation-Binding Surface Protein as a Vaccine Antigen To Prevent Moraxella catarrhalis Otitis Media and Infections in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2017 Sep 5;24(9):e00130-17. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00130-17. Print 2017 Sep.


Moraxella catarrhalis is an exclusively human respiratory tract pathogen that is a common cause of otitis media in children and respiratory tract infections in adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A vaccine to prevent these infections would have a major impact on reducing the substantial global morbidity and mortality in these populations. Through a genome mining approach, we identified AfeA, an ∼32-kDa substrate binding protein of an ABC transport system, as an excellent candidate vaccine antigen. Recombinant AfeA was expressed and purified and binds ferric, ferrous, manganese, and zinc ions, as demonstrated by thermal shift assays. It is a highly conserved protein that is present in all strains of M. catarrhalis Immunization with recombinant purified AfeA induces high-titer antibodies that recognize the native M. catarrhalis protein. AfeA expresses abundant epitopes on the bacterial surface and induces protective responses in the mouse pulmonary clearance model following aerosol challenge with M. catarrhalis Finally, AfeA is expressed during human respiratory tract infection of adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Based on these observations, AfeA is an excellent vaccine antigen to be included in a vaccine to prevent infections caused by M. catarrhalis.

Keywords: ABC transporters; Moraxella catarrhalis; immunization; otitis media; pulmonary infection; surface antigens; vaccines.