A Self-Assembling Whole-Cell Vaccine Antigen Presentation Platform

J Bacteriol. 2018 Jul 10;200(15):e00752-17. doi: 10.1128/JB.00752-17. Print 2018 Aug 1.


Diarrhea is the most common infection in children under the age of 5 years worldwide. In spite of this, only a few vaccines to treat infectious diarrhea exist, and many of the available vaccines are sparingly and sporadically administered. Major obstacles to the development and widespread implementation of vaccination include the ease and cost of production, distribution, and delivery. Here we present a novel, customizable, and self-assembling vaccine platform that exploits the Vibrio cholerae bacterial biofilm matrix for antigen presentation. We use this technology to create a proof-of-concept, live-attenuated whole-cell vaccine that is boosted by spontaneous association of a secreted protein antigen with the cell surface. Sublingual administration of this live-attenuated vaccine to mice confers protection against V. cholerae challenge and elicits the production of antigen-specific IgA in stool. The platform presented here enables the development of antigen-boosted vaccines that are simple to produce and deliver, addressing many of the obstacles to vaccination against diarrheal diseases. This may also serve as a paradigm for the development of broadly protective biofilm-based vaccines against other mucosal infections.IMPORTANCE Diarrheal disease is the most common infection afflicting children worldwide. In resource-poor settings, these infections are correlated with cognitive delay, stunted growth, and premature death. With the development of efficacious, affordable, and easily administered vaccines, such infections could be prevented. While a major focus of research on biofilms has been their elimination, here we harness the bacterial biofilm to create a customizable platform for cost-effective, whole-cell mucosal vaccines that self-incorporate secreted protein antigens. We use this platform to develop a sublingually administered live-attenuated prototype vaccine based on Vibrio cholerae This serves not only as a proof of concept for a multivalent vaccine against common bacterial enteric pathogens but also as a paradigm for vaccines utilizing other bacterial biofilms to target mucosal infections.

Keywords: Vibrio cholerae; antigen presentation platform; diarrhea; sublingual; vaccine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Cholera / prevention & control*
  • Cholera Vaccines / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Vibrio cholerae / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Cholera Vaccines