Clustered intergenic region sequences as predictors of factor H Binding Protein expression patterns and for assessing Neisseria meningitidis strain coverage by meningococcal vaccines

PLoS One. 2018 May 30;13(5):e0197186. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197186. eCollection 2018.


Factor H binding protein (fHbp) is a major protective antigen in 4C-MenB (Bexsero®) and Trumenba®, two serogroup B meningococcal vaccines, wherein expression level is a determinant of protection. Examination of promoter-containing intergenic region (IGR) sequences indicated that nine fHbp IGR alleles covered 92% of 1,032 invasive meningococcal strains with variant 1 fHbp alleles. Relative expression values for fHbp were determined for 79 meningococcal isolates covering ten IGR alleles by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT PCR). Derivation of expression clusters of IGR sequences by linear regression identified five expression clusters with five nucleotides and one insertion showing statistically associations with differences in expression level. Sequence analysis of 273 isolates examined by the Meningococcal Antigen Typing Scheme, a sandwich ELISA, found that coverage depended on the IGR expression cluster and vaccine peptide homology combination. Specific fHbp peptide-IGR expression cluster combinations were designated as 'at risk' for coverage by 4C-MenB and were detected in multiple invasive meningococcal disease cases confirmed by PCR alone and occurring in partially-vaccinated infants. We conclude that sequence-based analysis of IGR sequences is informative for assessing protein expression and has utility for culture-independent assessments of strain coverage by protein-based vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Complement Factor H / genetics
  • Complement Factor H / immunology
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / immunology*
  • DNA, Intergenic / genetics
  • DNA, Intergenic / immunology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunogenicity, Vaccine
  • Infant
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / genetics
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / immunology
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / prevention & control*
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / genetics
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / immunology*
  • Multigene Family
  • Neisseria meningitidis, Serogroup B / genetics
  • Neisseria meningitidis, Serogroup B / immunology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Vaccination


  • 4CMenB vaccine
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CFH protein, human
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Intergenic
  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • factor H-binding protein, Neisseria meningitidis
  • Complement Factor H