Nanoparticle-Fusion Protein Complexes Protect against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection

Mol Ther. 2018 Mar 7;26(3):822-833. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2017.12.016. Epub 2017 Dec 22.


Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death from infectious disease, and the current vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), is inadequate. Nanoparticles (NPs) are an emerging vaccine technology, with recent successes in oncology and infectious diseases. NPs have been exploited as antigen delivery systems and also for their adjuvantic properties. However, the mechanisms underlying their immunological activity remain obscure. Here, we developed a novel mucosal TB vaccine (Nano-FP1) based upon yellow carnauba wax NPs (YC-NPs), coated with a fusion protein consisting of three Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) antigens: Acr, Ag85B, and HBHA. Mucosal immunization of BCG-primed mice with Nano-FP1 significantly enhanced protection in animals challenged with low-dose, aerosolized Mtb. Bacterial control by Nano-FP1 was associated with dramatically enhanced cellular immunity compared to BCG, including superior CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation, tissue-resident memory T cell (Trm) seeding in the lungs, and cytokine polyfunctionality. Alongside these effects, we also observed potent humoral responses, such as the generation of Ag85B-specific serum IgG and respiratory IgA. Finally, we found that YC-NPs were able to activate antigen-presenting cells via an unconventional IRF-3-associated activation signature, without the production of potentially harmful inflammatory mediators, providing a mechanistic framework for vaccine efficacy and future development.

Keywords: adjuvant; antigen-presenting cells; immunity; nanoparticles; tuberculosis; vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyltransferases / genetics
  • Acyltransferases / immunology
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunization
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Mice
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis / immunology
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines / immunology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines
  • Acyltransferases
  • antigen 85B, Mycobacterium tuberculosis