Recent efforts to develop an enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) vaccine have focused on the antigenically conserved tip adhesins of colonization factors. We showed previously that intranasal immunization with dsc19CfaE, a soluble variant of the in cis donor strand-complemented tip adhesin of a colonization factor of the class 5 family (CFA/I) fimbria, is highly immunogenic and protects against oral challenge with CFA/I-positive (CFA/I+) ETEC strain H10407 in the Aotus nancymaae nonhuman primate. We also reported a cholera toxin (CT)-like chimera (called dsc19CfaE-CTA2/CTB) in which the CTA1 domain of CT was replaced by dsc19CfaE that was strongly immunogenic when administered intranasally or orogastrically in mice. Here, we evaluate the immunogenicity and protective efficacy (PE) of a refined and more stable chimera comprised of a pentameric B subunit of ETEC heat-labile toxin (LTB) in lieu of the CTB pentamer and a donor strand truncation (dsc14) of CfaE. The refined chimera, dsc14CfaE-sCTA2/LTB, was highly immunogenic in mice when administered intranasally or intradermally, eliciting serum and fecal antibody responses against CfaE and LTB, as well as strong hemagglutination inhibition titers, a surrogate for neutralization of intestinal adhesion mediated by CfaE. Moreover, the chimera was safe and highly immunogenic when administered intradermally to guinea pigs. In A. nancymaae, intradermal (i.d.) immunization with chimera plus single-mutant heat-labile toxin [LT(R192G)] elicited strong serum anti-CfaE and anti-LTB antibody responses and conferred significant reduction of diarrhea compared to phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) controls (PE = 84.1%; P < 0.02). These data support the further evaluation of dsc14CfaE-sCTA2/LTB as an ETEC vaccine in humans.
Keywords: CfaE; ETEC; H10407; chimera; chimera LTB; enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli; guinea pigs; mice; nonhuman primates; vaccine.