Profiling Germinal Center-like B Cell Responses to Conjugate Vaccines Using Synthetic Immune Organoids

ACS Cent Sci. 2023 Apr 12;9(4):787-804. doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.2c01473. eCollection 2023 Apr 26.


Glycoengineered bacteria have emerged as a cost-effective platform for rapid and controllable biosynthesis of designer conjugate vaccines. However, little is known about the engagement of such conjugates with naïve B cells to induce the formation of germinal centers (GC), a subanatomical microenvironment that converts naïve B cells into antibody-secreting plasma cells. Using a three-dimensional biomaterials-based B-cell follicular organoid system, we demonstrate that conjugates triggered robust expression of hallmark GC markers, B cell receptor clustering, intracellular signaling, and somatic hypermutation. These responses depended on the relative immunogenicity of the conjugate and correlated with the humoral response in vivo. The occurrence of these mechanisms was exploited for the discovery of high-affinity antibodies against components of the conjugate on a time scale that was significantly shorter than for typical animal immunization-based workflows. Collectively, these findings highlight the potential of synthetic organoids for rapidly predicting conjugate vaccine efficacy as well as expediting antigen-specific antibody discovery.