The chronicity and recurrence of many bacterial diseases is largely attributable to the presence of a biofilm, and eradication of these structures is confounded by an extracellular DNA-rich matrix. DNABII proteins, including integration host factor (IHF), are critical components of the matrix formed by all human pathogens tested to date. Whereas the natural adaptive immune response to IHF is against non-protective epitopes within the carboxyl-terminal region, antibodies against the DNA-binding "tips" induce biofilm collapse. We designed a "tip-chimer" immunogen to mimic the DNA-binding regions within the α-subunit and β-subunit of IHF from nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (IHFNTHi). Re-direction of the natural adaptive immune response toward immunoprotective domains disrupted NTHi biofilms in vitro and in an experimental model of otitis media. Our data support the rational design of a powerful therapeutic approach, and also that of a DNABII-directed vaccine antigen that would avoid augmentation of any pre-existing natural, but nonprotective, immune response.
Keywords: Bacterial pathogenesis; Vaccines.
© The Author(s) 2019.