(19)
(11)EP 2 988 779 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
13.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/20

(21)Application number: 14719739.6

(22)Date of filing:  24.04.2014
(51)Int. Cl.: 
A61K 39/095  (2006.01)
C07K 14/285  (2006.01)
A61K 39/385  (2006.01)
A61K 35/00  (2006.01)
A61K 39/108  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/EP2014/058396
(87)International publication number:
WO 2014/174043 (30.10.2014 Gazette  2014/44)

(54)

MUTANT BACTERIA FOR PRODUCTION OF GENERALIZED MODULES FOR MEMBRANE ANTIGENS

BAKTERIENMUTANTEN ZUR HERSTELLUNG VON ALLGEMEINEN MODULEN FÜR MEMBRANANTIGENE

SOUCHES MUTANTES DE BACTERIES POUR LA PRODUCTION DE MODULES GENERALES POUR ANTIGENES D'ENVELOPPE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 24.04.2013 WO PCT/EP2013/058459

(43)Date of publication of application:
02.03.2016 Bulletin 2016/09

(73)Proprietor: GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals SA
1330 Rixensart (BE)

(72)Inventors:
  • ARICO, Maria
    I-53100 Siena (IT)
  • ERCOLI, Giuseppe
    I-53100 Siena (IT)
  • NORAIS, Nathalie
    I-53100 Siena (IT)
  • SORIANI, Marco
    I-53100 Siena (IT)
  • TANI, Chiara
    I-53100 Siena (IT)

(74)Representative: Sanderson, Andrew John 
GlaxoSmithKline Global Patents, CN9.25.1 980 Great West Road Brentford
Middlesex TW8 9GS
Middlesex TW8 9GS (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2013/006055
  
  • T. UEHARA ET AL: "LytM-Domain Factors Are Required for Daughter Cell Separation and Rapid Ampicillin-Induced Lysis in Escherichia coli", JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY, vol. 191, no. 16, 15 August 2009 (2009-08-15), pages 5094-5107, XP055119738, ISSN: 0021-9193, DOI: 10.1128/JB.00505-09
  • GIUSEPPE ERCOLI ET AL: "LytM proteins of non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae are involved in cell separation, OMV production and host colonization", EIMID 10TH ANNUAL MEETING, COUVENT ROYAL DE SAINT-MAXIMIN, SAINT-MAXIMIN-LA-SAINTE-BAUME, FRANCE, OCTOBER, 2ND - 4TH, 2013, [Online] 24 October 2013 (2013-10-24), XP055119705, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:http://www.eimid.org/documents/EIMID_1 0th_annual_meeting_programme.pdf> [retrieved on 2014-05-23]
  • BERNADAC ALAIN ET AL: "Escherichia coli tol-pal mutants form outer membrane vesicles", JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY, AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MICROBIOLOGY [NOT]ETC., vol. 180, no. 18, 1 September 1998 (1998-09-01), pages 4872-4878, XP002208245, ISSN: 0021-9193
  • SEBASTIAN POGGIO ET AL: "A protein critical for cell constriction in the Gram-negative bacterium Caulobacter crescentus localizes at the division site through its peptidoglycan-binding LysM domains", MOLECULAR MICROBIOLOGY, vol. 77, no. 1, 24 May 2010 (2010-05-24), pages 74-89, XP055119803, ISSN: 0950-382X, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07223.x
  • SCORZA FRANCESCO BERLANDA ET AL: "Proteomics characterization of outer membrane vesicles from the extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli Delta tolR IHE3034 mutant", MOLECULAR & CELLULAR PROTEOMICS, AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, US, vol. 7, no. 3, 1 March 2008 (2008-03-01), pages 473-485, XP009101781, ISSN: 1535-9476, DOI: 10.1074/MCP.M700295-MCP200
  • Anonymous: "Pfam: Family: Peptidase_M23 (PF01551)", , 18 March 2019 (2019-03-18), XP055570542, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:https://pfam.xfam.org/family/Peptidase _M23 [retrieved on 2019-03-18]
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description


[0001] This application claims the benefit of the PCT application PCT/EP2013/058459 (filed April 24th, 2013).

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0002] This invention is in the field of vesicles from Gram-negative bacteria, particularly for use in immunogenic compositions, e.g. vaccines.

BACKGROUND ART



[0003] Gram-negative bacteria can spontaneously release vesicles from their outer membranes during growth due to the turgour pressure of the cell envelope. The formation of such vesicles can be facilitated by disruption of certain bacterial components e.g. references 1 and 2 disrupted the E. coli Tol-Pal system to provide strains which release vesicles into the culture medium during growth. Vesicles can also be produced by disruption of whole bacteria. Known vesicle production methods include methods which use detergent treatment (e.g. with deoxycholate) [3 & 4], detergent-free methods [5], or sonication [6], etc.

[0004] These vesicles (which may typically be called blebs and outer membrane vesicles (OMVs)) are rich in immunogenic cell surface-associated, periplasmic and secreted antigens and have been used as vaccines, e.g. against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B [7]. They are particularly suited for this use because the vesicles contain compounds that act as adjuvants, eliciting strong immune responses against the antigens. In this way, the vesicles are a closer mimic of the native bacterium for the immune system than purified antigenic proteins or other bacterial components. However, as the vesicles are derived from bacteria, they typically require treatment to remove reactogenic bacterial components like endotoxin. This may be achieved by detergent treatment etc. [8].

[0005] Bemadac et al 1998 and WO 2013/006055 both disclose that the deletion of tolA results in an increased production of outer membrane vesicles.

[0006] It is an object of the invention to provide further and improved components for preparing these vesicles, and in particular vesicles that can be used as vaccines. One specific object of the invention is to provide a Gram-negative bacterium that is adapted for the production of the vesicles. For example, the bacterium may be adapted to provide a high yield of vesicles, vesicles with altered protein content and/or composition, and vesicles with improved crossprotective efficacy.

[0007] In particular in relation to Haemophilus influenza, there remains a need for providing a vaccine that protects against a broad spectrum of Haemophilus influenzae strains. H. influenzae is a versatile microorganism with an improved ability to adapt to new niches and to cause a broad spectrum of disease. Fitness, virulence and colonization factors can change in order to allow the microorganism to adapt to different tissues and hosts. Therefore, potential antigens are subject to high selective pressure and, as a result, may have sequence variability among different strains.

DISCLOSURE



[0008] Gram-negative bacteria are separated from the external medium by two successive layers of membrane structures. These structures, referred to as the cytoplasmic membrane and the outer membrane (OM), differ both structurally and functionally. The outer membrane plays an important role in the interaction of pathogenic bacteria with their respective hosts. Consequently, the surface exposed bacterial molecules represent important targets for the host immune response, making outer-membrane components attractive candidates in providing vaccine, diagnostic and therapeutics reagents.

[0009] The present disclosure describes that the mutation or deletion of one or more genes encoding for polypeptides having in common the LytM catalytic domain results in a drastic change in the bacterial cell division and bacterial phenotype. Inventors have also shown that said mutation or deletion results in the release of vesicles known as OMVs or outer membrane vesicles, whereas the same wild type NTHi strains do not normally release OMVs.

[0010] The inventors have generated Gram negative bacteria in which the normal expression of proteins containing a LytM catalytic domain is disrupted (i.e. the protein is inactivated) and have observed that these bacteria have properties which can be advantageous in the preparation of vesicles. These properties include an increased tendency to form vesicles and changes in the nature and/or amount of proteins present in the resulting vesicles. It was known in E. coli that two components of the division machinery with LytM domains (EnvC and NlpD) are direct regulators of the cell wall hydrolases (amidases) responsible for cell separation (AmiA, AmiB and AmiC) [9]. It is also known that LytM metalloproteases in E. coli are absolutely required for daughter cell separation.

[0011] In one particularly preferred embodiment it is described that by deleting NT013 and/or NT022 not only the bacterial cell division is affected, but there is also a surprising production and release of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) in NTHI strains, that normally do not release OMVs.

[0012] In particular, it has been shown in non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae(NTHi) that deletion of NT013 causes an increase in the release of vesicles, and changes in the protein content and/or composition of the resulting vesicles, e.g. when compared to NHTi without the deletion, as shown in more detail below.

[0013] Deletion of NT017 in NTHi causes changes in the protein content and/or composition of the resulting vesicles , e.g. when compared to NHTi without the deletion, as shown in more detail below.

[0014] Deletion of NT022 in NTHi causes an increase in the release of vesicles, and changes in the protein content and/or composition of the resulting vesicles, e.g. when compared to NHTi without the deletion, as shown in more detail below.

[0015] The growth rate of the mutated bacteria may be comparable to the wild type rate of growth, unlike the growth rate of the known TolR mutant.

[0016] The invention therefore provides a method for preparing vesicles from a Gram-negative bacterium in which at least one LytM catalytic domain-containing protein is inactivated comprising a step of obtaining vesicles from a culture of the bacterium, wherein:
  1. (a) the at least one LytM catalytic domain containing protein is inactivated by a knockout mutation in the coding region of the gene or its promoter that:
    1. (i) reduces the level of mRNA encoding the protein to 0% of that produced by the wild-type bacterium; or
    2. (ii) inhibits translation of the mRNA encoding the protein to 0% of that produced by the wild-type bacterium.


[0017] Alternatively or additionally, the at least one LytM catalytic domain-containing protein is selected from any one of NT013, NT022 and NT017 of NTHi, wherein:

NT013 has an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID NO: 1 or shares sequence identity of 95% with SEQ ID NO: 1,

NT022 has an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID NO: 5 or shares sequence identity of 95% with SEQ ID NO: 5, and

NT017 has an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID NO: 3 or shares sequence identity of 95% with SEQ ID NO: 3.



[0018] Alternatively or additionally, the Gram-negative bacterium is selected from non-typeable H. influenzae, N. meningitidis and B. pertussis.

[0019] Alternatively or additionally, the vesicles do not comprise any living and/or whole bacteria.

[0020] Alternatively or additionally, the method comprises the further step of admixing vesicles with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier.

[0021] The disclosure therefore provides Gram negative bacteria in which at least one LytM catalytic domain containing protein is inactivated, and methods for preparing vesicles from the bacterium. The disclosure also provides the vesicles obtained or obtainable from this bacterium and immunogenic compositions comprising these vesicles. The immunogenic compositions may in particular be used as vaccines.

[0022] Thus the disclosure provides a Gram negative bacterium in which at least one LytM catalytic domain containing protein is inactivated. In one embodiment this results in a bacterium which, during growth in culture medium, releases greater quantities of vesicles into the medium and/or vesicles having a different protein composition to the same bacterium in which the LytM catalytic domain containing protein is active. Optionally the at least one LytM catalytic domain containing protein is not expressed.

[0023] The disclosure also provides a Gram negative bacterium in which one or more LytM catalytic domain containing proteins has a modification such that, during growth in culture medium, the bacterium releases greater quantities of vesicles into the medium than the same bacterium lacking the modification and/or vesicles having a different protein content and/or composition to the same bacterium lacking the modification..

[0024] In particular, the present disclosure, also provides a NTHi bacterium in which one or more of the antigens of the disclosure (e.g. NT013, NT017 and NT022) has/have been knocked out [10]. Techniques for producing knockout bacteria are well known, and knockout of genes from NTHi strains have been reported i.e. in Ref. 11.

[0025] The disclosure also provides a NTHI bacterium in which one or more of the antigens of the disclosure (e.g. NT013, NT017 and NT022) has a mutation which inhibits its activity. The gene encoding the antigen will have a mutation that changes the encoded amino acid sequence or abolishes its expression. Mutation may involve deletion, substitution, and/or insertion, any of which may be involve one or more amino acids.

[0026] One embodiment provides deletions of one or more genes coding for antigens of the disclosure (e.g. NT013, NT017 and NT022).

[0027] In one embodiment, the present disclosure provides NTHI genes codifying for polypeptides that have the LytM catalytic domain. Generally metalloproteases are identified as containing HxH and HxxxD aminoacid domains in their catalytic domains. Preferably, these one or more genes are codifying for any one of NT013, NT022 or NT017.

[0028] Preferred embodiments provide NTHI strains wherein the deletions of one or more genes coding for anyone of NT013 or NT022 or NT017. For instance, the genes deleted can be substituted with an antibiotic resistance cassette, such as the erythromycin resistance cassette. It has been found that all the above mentioned polypeptides have in common a LytM catalytic domain and are all metalloproteases.

[0029] It has been also found that the LytM domain in NT013 and NT022 is conserved. NT013 catalytic active site is represented by the following aminoacid motifs -HKGD- and -HLH- at the C-terminal portion. of NT022 catalytic active site is represented by the following aminoacid motifs -NKGID- and -KLH- at the C-terminal.

[0030] The disclosure also provides a method of preparing a Gram negative bacterium, comprising a step of modifying gene(s) encoding one or more LytM catalytic domain containing protein such that the modification causes the bacterium, when grown in culture medium, to release greater quantities of vesicles into the medium than the starting bacterium and/or vesicles having a different protein content and/or composition to the starting bacterium. The mutating step may inactivate (e.g. mutate or delete) the gene.

[0031] Mutant bacteria of the disclosure are particularly useful for preparing bacterial outer membrane vesicles which include NTHi antigens (e.g. antigens of the disclosure (e.g. NT013, NT017 and NT022)), and which can be used as immunogens.

[0032] A method for producing a NTHi bacterium overproducing OMVs of the disclosure is also provided, which method comprises genetically modifying a Gram-negative bacterial strain by one or more of the following processes: (a) engineering the strain to downregulate expression of one or more Tol genes; and (b) mutating one or more gene(s) encoding a protein comprising a peptidoglycan-associated site to attenuate the peptidoglycan-binding activity of the protein(s); (c) by mutation or deletion of one or more genes encoding for polypeptides having in common the LytM catalytic domain. In one particularly preferred embodiment, the NTHi might not express active NT013, NT022 genes and/or any of Tol genes [11], [10]. In one embodiment the modification is mutation or deletion of one or more genes encoding for polypeptides having in common the LytM catalytic domain.

[0033] The disclosure also provides a vesicle isolated or obtainable from a bacterium of the disclosure, e.g. using any methods referred to herein. These vesicles are useful as components of vaccines.

[0034] The disclosure also provides a process for preparing a Gram negative bacterial, e.g. NTHi vesicle, comprising a step of treating a Gram negative, e.g NTHi bacterium of the disclosure such that its outer membrane forms vesicles.

[0035] The disclosure also provides a process for preparing a Gram negative bacterial, e.g NTHi vesicle, comprising a step of culturing a Gram negative, e.g NTHi bacterium of the disclosure under conditions in which its outer membrane spontaneously sheds vesicles.

[0036] The disclosure also provides a process for preparing vesicles, comprising a step of separating the vesicles from a culture medium comprising bacteria of the disclosure which have been grown under conditions which permit the release of vesicles into the medium by the bacteria. Vesicles prepared by this process can be used as components of pharmaceutical compositions including vaccines.

[0037] The disclosure also provides a culture medium comprising bacteria of the disclosure which have been grown under conditions which permit the release of vesicles into the medium by the bacteria. Vesicles may be purified from this culture medium.

[0038] The disclosure also provides a composition comprising vesicles that, during culture of bacteria of the disclosure, are released into the culture medium. This composition does not comprise any living and/or whole bacteria. This composition and/or its components can be used for vaccine preparation.

[0039] Pharmaceutical compositions comprising vesicles of the disclosure can be used in medicine, e.g. in methods of treating or preventing infection and in methods for raising an antibody response.

[0040] The disclosure also provides a composition comprising vesicles, wherein the vesicles are present in the filtrate obtainable after filtration through a 0.22µm filter of a culture medium in which a bacterium of the disclosure has been grown. This composition and/or its components can be used for vaccine preparation.

LytM domain containing proteins



[0041] According to the disclosure, one or more LytM domain containing protein is modified in a Gram negative bacterium. Typically this is inactivation (e.g. by mutation or deletion). This may cause the bacterium to release during growth in culture medium (i) greater quantities of vesicles, and/or (ii) vesicles having a different protein content and/or composition, than the same bacterium in which the LytM catalytic domain containing protein is active. Various modifications can be made.

[0042] Metalloproteases of the lysostaphin-type (LytM) of peptidases are widely distributed, occurring in bacteriophages, in Gram-positive and in Gram-negative bacteria. Metalloproteases containing the catalytic LytM domain belong to the M23 peptidase family [12], this domain was identified for the first time in a secreted autolysin from Staphylococcus aureus [13].

[0043] LytM domains, and hence LytM domain containing protein can in general be identified on the basis of sequence identity with LytM domains from known LytM domain containing proteins such as EnvC, NlpD and YebA of E coli, NT013, NT017 or NT022 of non-capsulated (non-typeable) Haemophilus influenza.

[0044] A LytM domain thus typically has at least 30, 40, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99% sequence identity with the sequence of any of the LytM domains referred to herein. A LytM domain containing protein contains a LytM domain. Exemplary sequences for LytM domains and LytM domain containing proteins are provided below.
LytM catalytic domain containing ProteinSequence and SEQ ID NO for proteinSequence and SEQ ID NO for LytM catalytic domain
H. influenzae NT013 (annotated as NTHI0532 in genome 86-028NP)

 


 
 

 
 
H. influenzae NT017 (annotated as NTHI0915 in genome 86-028NP) and

 


 
H. influenzae NT022 (annotated as NTHI0830 in genome 86-028NP)

 


 
E coli YebA

 


 
E coli EnvC

 


 
E coli NlpD

 


 
 

 


 


[0045] The antigen NT013 is annotated as TPR repeat-containing protein and also as cytochrome c maturation heme lyase subunit CcmH2. It has been released as NTHI0532 in the strain 86-028NP. NT013 has been annotated as belonging to the metalloprotease protein family and it has a LytM catalytic domain.

[0046] The NT013 antigen has a native 42 N-terminal amino acid sequence (amino acids 1 to 42 of SEQ ID NO: 1). The NT013 antigen without the native 42 N-terminal amino acid sequence is represented by SEQ ID NO:85.

[0047] The antigen NT017 has been annotated as survival protein SurA-like protein NTHI0915 in 86-026NP strain.

[0048] The NT017 antigen has a native 20 N-terminal amino acid sequence (amino acids 1 to 20 of SEQ ID NO: 3). The NT017 antigen without the native 42 N-terminal amino acid sequence is represented by SEQ ID NO:86.

[0049] The antigen NT022 has been annotated as NTHI0830 from strain NP86-028 and identified to be a possible outer membrane antigenic lipoprotein B. It has been cloned and expressed from Fi176 strain. It has been also found to contain a LytM catalytic domain and to be surface exposed and secreted.

[0050] The NT022 antigen has a native 18 N-terminal amino acid sequence (amino acids 1 to 18 of SEQ ID NO: 5). The NT022 antigen without the native 18 N-terminal amino acid sequence is represented by SEQ ID NO:87.

[0051] Homologues of LytM domain containing proteins are found in various Gram negative bacteria and examples are set out in the table below:
 NT013NT017NT022
Bordetella pertussis BP2956 BP0608 BP1721
Campylobacter jejuni BN867_12080    
Escherichia coli YebA EnvC NlpD
Helicobacter pylori HP0506    
Hemophilus influenzae NTHI0532 NTHI0915 NTHI0830
Klebsiella pneumoniae CDK77985 CDK80041 CDK79716
Legionella pneumophila lpp0627 lpp0562 NlpD
Neisseria meningitidis NMB0315 NMB1333 NMB1483
Neisseria gonorrhoeae NGO1686 NGO0571 NGO1056
Proteus mirabilis PMI1153 PMI3180 NlpD
Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA0667 PA5133 PA3623
Salmonella typhi STY2098 STY4090 NlpD
Serratia marcescens YebA SMWW4_v1c47520 NlpD
Shigella flexneri YebA YibP NlpD
Vibrio cholerae EET91248 EMP89515 NlpD
Yersinia pestis YPZ3_1762 nlpD1 NlpD


[0052] LytM domains may contain the motif HxxxD (SEQ ID NO:13) and/or HxH, e.g. HKGVD (SEQ ID NO: 14), HRGVD (SEQ ID NO: 15), HTGID (SEQ ID NO: 16), HLH. Other specific motifs include NKGVD (SEQ ID NO: 17), TKGID (SEQ ID NO: 18), NKGID (SEQ ID NO: 19), QLH, RLH, KLH, WKGVF (SEQ ID NO: 20), WRGLV (SEQ ID NO: 21), WKGMV (SEQ ID NO: 22), GLY, SLY, ALY.

[0053] NTHi antigens i.e. proteins are defined above by reference to naming conventions from the literature e.g. the "NTHI" numbering (from the genome of strain 86-028NP). Such conventions are explained in more detail in reference 14 (particularly Table 1). Thus an exemplary amino acid and nucleotide sequence for any of the antigens i.e. proteins referred to herein can easily be found in public sequence databases for the indicated strains (together with additional information, such as functional annotations), but the disclosure is not limited to sequences from the 86-028NP strain. Genome sequences of several other NTHI strains are available (again, see Table 1 of reference 14). Standard search and alignment techniques can be used to identify in any of these (or other) further genome sequences the homolog of any particular sequence given herein. Moreover, the available sequences can be used to design primers for amplification of homologous sequences from other species and strains. Thus the disclosure is not limited to these specific species and strains or the strains in which the exemplified sequences are found, but rather encompasses such variants and homologs from other Gram negative e.g. NTHI strains and the use of species and strains in which such variants and homologs are found, as well as non-natural variants. In general, suitable variants of a particular SEQ ID NO include its allelic variants, its polymorphic forms, its homologs, its orthologs, its paralogs, its mutants, etc. In embodiments of the disclosure, a LytM domain containing protein is a homolog, ortholog or paralog of NT013, NT022 or NT017 of NTHi.

[0054] Thus, for instance, polypeptides or proteins used with the disclosure i.e. modified in the course of making the disclosure may, compared to the SEQ ID NO herein, include one or more (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, etc.) amino acid substitutions, such as conservative substitutions (i.e. substitutions of one amino acid with another which has a related side chain). Genetically-encoded amino acids are generally divided into four families: (1) acidic i.e. aspartate, glutamate; (2) basic i.e. lysine, arginine, histidine; (3) non-polar i.e. alanine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, proline, phenylalanine, methionine, tryptophan; and (4) uncharged polar i.e. glycine, asparagine, glutamine, cysteine, serine, threonine, tyrosine. Phenylalanine, tryptophan, and tyrosine are sometimes classified jointly as aromatic amino acids. In general, substitution of single amino acids within these families does not have a major effect on the biological activity. The polypeptides i.e. proteins may also include one or more (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, etc.) single amino acid deletions relative to the SEQ ID NO sequences. The polypeptides may also include one or more (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, etc.) insertions (e.g. each of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 amino acids) relative to the SEQ ID NO sequences.

[0055] Similarly, a polypeptide used with the disclosure i.e. modified in the course of making the disclosure may comprise an amino acid sequence that:
  1. (a) is identical (i.e. 100% identical) to a sequence disclosed in the sequence listing;
  2. (b) shares sequence identity (e.g. 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) with a sequence disclosed in the sequence listing;
  3. (c) has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 (or more) single amino acid alterations (deletions, insertions, substitutions), which may be at separate locations or may be contiguous, as compared to the sequences of (a) or (b); and/or
  4. (d) when aligned with a particular sequence from the sequence listing using a pairwise alignment algorithm, each moving window of x amino acids from N-terminus to C-terminus (such that for an alignment that extends to p amino acids, where p>x, there are p-x+1 such windows) has at least x·y identical aligned amino acids, where: x is selected from 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200; y is selected from 0.50, 0.60, 0.70, 0.75, 0.80, 0.85, 0.90, 0.91, 0.92, 0.93, 0.94, 0.95, 0.96, 0.97, 0.98, 0.99; and if x·y is not an integer then it is rounded up to the nearest integer. The preferred pairwise alignment algorithm is the Needleman-Wunsch global alignment algorithm [15], using default parameters (e.g. with Gap opening penalty = 10.0, and with Gap extension penalty = 0.5, using the EBLOSUM62 scoring matrix). This algorithm is conveniently implemented in the needle tool in the EMBOSS package [16].


[0056] Within group (c), deletions or substitutions may be at the N-terminus and/or C-terminus, or may be between the two termini. Thus a truncation is an example of a deletion. Truncations may involve deletion of up to 40 (or more) amino acids at the N-terminus and/or C-terminus. N-terminus truncation can remove leader peptides e.g. to facilitate recombinant expression in a heterologous host. C-terminus truncation can remove anchor sequences e.g. to facilitate recombinant expression in a heterologous host.

[0057] In general, when an antigen comprises a sequence that is not identical to a sequence from the sequence listing such as a NTHI sequence (e.g. when it comprises a sequence listing with <100% sequence identity thereto, or when it comprises a fragment thereof) it is preferred in each individual instance that the antigen can elicit an antibody which recognises the respective NTHI sequence from the sequence listing.

[0058] In some embodiments the LytM containing protein is selected from NT013 and NT022 of NTHi or a homolog, ortholog or paralog thereof.

[0059] In some embodiments the LytM containing protein is NT017 of NTHi or a homolog, ortholog or paralog thereof.

The bacterium



[0060] The Gram-negative bacterium of the disclosure is typically a non-capsulated (non-typeable) Haemophilus influenzae strain (NTHi). However, it may be a different Gram-negative bacterium, including Neisseria meningitidis (especially serogroup B) and B. pertussis. In some embodiments the Gram-negative bacterium of the disclosure is not a non-capsulated (non-typeable) Haemophilus influenzae strain.

[0061] Exemplary species for use in the disclosure include species in any of genera Escherichia, Shigella, Neisseria, Moraxella, Bordetella, Borrelia, Brucella, Chlamydia, Haemophilus, Legionella, Pseudomonas, Yersinia, Helicobacter, Salmonella, Vibrio, Campylobacter, Klebsiella, etc. In particular, the bacterium may be a Shigella species (such as S.dysenteriae, S.flexneri, S.boydii or S.sonnei). Alternatively, it may be a Neisseria species, e.g. a non-pathogenic species such as N.bacilliformis, Ncinerea, Nelongata, N.flavescens, N.lactamica, N.macacae, N.mucosa, N.polysaccharea, N.sicca or N.subflava, and in particular N.lactamica. Alternatively, a pathogenic species of Neisseria may be used, e.g. N.gonorrhoeae or N.meningitidis. In other examples, the bacterium may be Bordetella pertussis, Borrelia burgdorferi, Brucella melitensis, Brucella ovis, Chlamydia psittaci, Chlamydia trachomatis, Moraxella catarrhalis, Haemophilus influenzae (including non-typeable stains), Legionella pneumophila, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Yersinia enterocolitica, Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enterica (including serovars typhi and typhimurium, as well as serovars paratyphi and enteritidis), Vibrio cholerae, Campylobacter jejuni Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus (e.g. Proteus mirabilis), Citrobacter, Serratia (e.g. Serratia marcescens), Erwinia, Pasteurella, Yersinia pesti, E. coli etc. Photosynthetic Gram-negative bacteria may also be used. Typically, the bacterium is a competent strain. This feature facilitates genetic modification of the bacterium.

[0062] Gram-negative bacteria may be defined on the basis of their shape, as cocci, bacilli or coccobacilli and the bacterium may thus be a Gram-negative coccus, bacillus or coccobacillus.

[0063] The Gram-negative bacterium is optionally a proteobacterium, e.g. belonging to a class selected from Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Epsilonproteobacteria, or Acidithiobacillia. The Gram-negative bacterium is optionally not belonging to a class selected from Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Epsilonproteobacteria, or Acidithiobacillia.

[0064] In some embodiments the bacterium colonises humans. In some embodiments the bacterium is pathogenic in humans.

[0065] In some embodiments, the bacterium produces vesicles when grown under normal culture conditions. In other embodiments, the bacterium does not produce vesicles when grown under normal culture conditions.

[0066] In some embodiments the bacterium is not of genus Caulobacter, e.g. not Caulobacter crescentus. In some embodiments the bacterium is not of genus Escherichia, e.g. not E. coli. In some embodiments the bacterium is not of genus Helicobacter, e.g. not H. pylori. In some embodiments the bacterium is not of genus Neisseria e.g. not N.gonorrhoeae or not N.meningitidis. In some embodiments the bacterium is not of genus Yersinia e.g. not Yersinia pestis. In some embodiments the bacterium is not of genus Yersinia e.g. not Yersinia pestis. In some embodiments the bacterium is not H somni.

[0067] In some embodiments the bacterium is in class Betaproteobacteria and the LytM containing protein is selected from NT013, NT017 and NT022, optionally selected from NT017 and NT022 of NTNi, or a homolog, ortholog or paralog thereof.

[0068] In some embodiments the bacterium is a Gram-negative coccobacillus and the LytM containing protein is selected from NT013, NT017 and NT022, optionally selected from NT013 and NT017 of NTNi, or a homolog, ortholog or paralog thereof.

[0069] In some embodiments the bacterium is a Gram-negative coccus and the LytM containing protein is selected from NT013, NT017 and NT022, optionally selected from NT017 and NT022 of NTNi, or a homolog, ortholog or paralog thereof.

[0070] When the bacterium is Neisseria meningitidis the LytM containing protein may for example be selected from NMB1483, NMB0315 and NMB1333.

[0071] When the bacterium is B. pertussis the LytM containing protein may for example be selected from BP1721, BP2956, BP0608, BP2919, BP3015 and BP1017.

Other mutations



[0072] In addition to having a disrupted LytM catalytic domain containing protein, a Gram-negative bacterium of the disclosure can advantageously include one or more further changes relative to a wild-type strain. These changes can be used e.g. to remove components from the bacterium which would be toxic or undesirable in a human vaccine.

[0073] The bacterium may also contain other adaptations for the production of vesicles. In particular, the bacterium typically comprises a genome wherein one or more sequences are present such that, compared to the same bacterium without said sequences(s), the bacterium produces greater quantities of vesicles. Sequences that increase vesicle production may be identified by adding or deleting the sequence to a vesicle-producing strain and determining the effect on vesicle production. Examples include the inactivation or deletion of any of Tol genes [10,11].

[0074] For example there may be additional modifications, e.g. knockouts in one or more of lpxL1, lgtB, porA, frpB, synX, lgtA, mltA and/or lst.

[0075] In some embodiments a bacterium may include one or more of the knockout and/or hyper-expression mutations disclosed in references 17 and 18-20. Suitable genes for modification include: (a) Cps, CtrA, CtrB, CtrC, CtrD, FrpB, GalE, HtrB/MsbB, LbpA, LbpB, LpxK, Opa, Opc, PilC, PorB, SiaA, SiaB, SiaC, SiaD, TbpA, and/or TbpB [18]; (b) CtrA, CtrB, CtrC, CtrD, FrpB, GalE, HtrB/MsbB, LbpA, LbpB, LpxK, Opa, Opc, PhoP, PilC, PmrE, PmrF, SiaA, SiaB, SiaC, SiaD, TbpA, and/or TbpB; (c) ExbB, ExbD, rmpM, CtrA, CtrB, CtrD, GalE, LbpA, LpbB, Opa, Opc, PilC, PorB, SiaA, SiaB, SiaC, SiaD, TbpA, and/or TbpB; and (d) CtrA, CtrB, CtrD, FrpB, OpA, OpC, PilC, PorB, SiaD, SynA, SynB, and/or SynC.

[0076] A bacterium may have one or more, or all, of the following characteristics: (i) down-regulated or knocked-out LgtB and/or GalE to truncate the LOS; (ii) up-regulated TbpA; (iii) up-regulated NhhA; (iv) up-regulated Omp85; (v) up-regulated LbpA; (vi) up-regulated NspA; (vii) knocked-out PorA; (viii) down-regulated or knocked-out FrpB; (ix) down-regulated or knocked-out Opa; (x) down-regulated or knocked-out Opc; (xii) deleted cps gene complex. A truncated LOS can be one that does not include a sialyl-lacto-N-neotetraose epitope e.g. it might be a galactose-deficient LOS. The LOS may have no α chain.

[0077] Such mutations have particularly been described in Neisseria meningitidis.

Additional antigens



[0078] Optionally, the bacterium comprises a genome wherein one or more sequences are present such that, compared to the same bacterium without said sequences, the bacterium produces vesicles that comprise one or more additional antigens. These additional antigens are typically not found in the bacterium in its corresponding wild type strain. For example, the additional antigen(s) may be one or more protein antigens from a bacterium selected from Neisseria meningitidis (especially serogroup B), pathogenic E.coli, Vibrio cholera, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus agalactiae. Other suitable bacteria include Bacillus anthracis, Shigella, Chlamydia, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium leprae, Mycobacterium ulcerans, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, Shigella, Campylobacter, Salmonella (e.g. Salmonella typhimurium), Yersinia (e.g. Yersinia pestis), Rickettsia prowazekii, Neisseria, Clostridium botulinum and Helicobacter. Similarly, the additional antigen(s) may be one or more viral protein antigens, such as an antigen from a virus of the Adenoviridae, Picornaviridae, Herpesviridae, Hepadnaviridae, Flaviviridae, Retroviridae, Orthomyxoviridae, Paramyxoviridae, Papovaviridae, Rhabdoviridae or Togaviridae family, for example, an antigen from HIV or influenza. The additional antigen(s) may be one or more protein antigens from any pathogen. The additional antigen(s) may also be one or more antigens from cancer cells, e.g. one or more oncoproteins. The vesicles from the bacterium can therefore be used as a delivery system for presenting the additional antigens to the immune system. The one or more sequence(s) present in the genome are therefore capable of directing expression of the additional antigen(s) in the vesicles. The sequence(s) may be integrated into the bacterial chromosome or they may be present in non-integrated genomic element(s), e.g. plasmid(s). For example, it is efficient to include the sequence(s) within one or more expression vector(s) so that it is possible to control expression in the bacterium. For example, each sequence may be in a suitable expression cassette. Typically, the sequences will include genes that encode the additional antigens, together with any regulatory sequences required for effective expression in the vesicles (i.e. promoters, signal sequences, chaperones, secretion pathway machinery etc.). The skilled person is aware of methods for such heterologous gene expression in Gram-negative bacteria, particularly E.coli, and also how to direct this expression so that the heterologous proteins are present in the vesicles (see e.g. refs. 21, 22, 23 etc.). For example, the proteins maybe fused to appropriate leader peptides for periplasmic compartmentalization. When a protein is targeted to the periplasm in this way, it may be useful to disrupt the vesicles, e.g. using sonication and/or detergent, prior to administration as a vaccine. This helps to release the protein from the vesicle, while retaining the adjuvanticity of the other vesicle components. Similarly, the proteins may be fused to leader sequences followed by a "lipidation box" for compartmentalization in the inner and/or outer membrane as lipoproteins. When a protein is targeted to a membrane in this way, it will typically be orientated either inside or outside the vesicle. This orientation may be changed by the action of endogenous "flip/flop" mechanisms, e.g. in species of Neisseria. The proteins may also be fused to transmembrane regions and/or fused to endogenous membrane proteins, e.g. porins, for antigen compartmentalization in the outer membrane. Expression efficiency may also be optimised by modifying codon usage in the sequences to match the preferences of the Gram-negative bacterium (ref. 24).

Preparation of mutants



[0079] Gram-negative bacteria of the disclosure can be prepared conveniently from wild-type or other starting strains using conventional techniques of mutagenesis. Modification (e.g. inactivation) of the LytM domain containing protein or gene can be achieved in various ways e.g. by deletion or mutation in its promoter, by deletion or mutation of its start codon, by introduction of a premature stop codon, by deletion of the complete or part (e.g. at least 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95%) of the coding region, by knockout, etc. Isogenic knockout mutants are preferred. A knockout mutation may be situated in the coding region of the gene or may lie within its transcriptional control regions (e.g. within its promoter). A knockout mutation will reduce the level of mRNA encoding the antigen to <1% of that produced by the wild-type bacterium, preferably <0.5%, more preferably <0.1%, and most preferably to 0%. In the resulting Gram negative bacterium mRNA encoding the desired gene is absent and/or its translation is inhibited (e.g. typically to less than 1% of wild-type levels, preferably <0.5%, more preferably <0.1%, and most preferably to 0%).

[0080] A Gram-negative bacterium of the disclosure may contain a marker gene in the or in place of the inactivated gene e.g. an antibiotic e.g. erythromycin resistance marker. This can be achieved using homologous recombination. Unmarked deletions (i.e. deletion without introduction of a marker gene) may also be used.

[0081] In some embodiments, at least one LytM domain containing protein is inactivated, e.g. such that it does not carry out its normal function, or does so at a reduced level. This may arise through reduction in the amount of protein that is expressed and/or by a reduction in the activity of the expressed protein. There may thus be inactivation (e.g. by mutation or a deletion) in the gene encoding the protein. In one embodiment the LytM domain containing protein is expressed at a level of less than 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1% of the level at which the unmodified protein is expressed. The LytM domain containing protein may be not expressed. In one embodiment the activity of the expressed LytM domain containing protein is less than 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1% of the activity of the unmodified protein). The LytM domain containing protein may be non functional.

[0082] In some embodiments, mutations and/or deletion may be made in the LytM domain. Mutations and/or deletionsmay be chosen which render the LytM domain and/or the LytM domain containing protein non functional, or with a reduced function, as defined above.

[0083] Alternatively, the deletion or mutation may reduce the activity or function of the LytM domain containing protein. The deletion or mutation may be in the LytM domain or elsewhere in the protein. For example the deletion or mutation may result in an expressed protein which lacks one or more than one domain (e.g. which lacks the LytM domain). The process of preparing a Gram negative strain, e.g. suitable for vesicle preparation can be followed by a step of culturing the modified bacteria obtained to provide a bacterial culture.

[0084] Culture conditions for growing Gram-negative bacteria are well known in the art. For example, they may be grown using an organic nitrogen source (such as amino acid mixtures e.g. containing Ala, Arg, Asn, Asp; casamino acids may be used), glycerol as a carbon source, etc. Inclusion of L-aspartic acid in the medium is particularly useful and may function as both a nitrogen and carbon source.

Methods for producing the vesicles



[0085] The disclosure also provides methods for preparing vesicles of the disclosure, and vesicles obtained or obtainable by these methods. The method comprises a step of obtaining vesicles from a culture of bacteria. The vesicles can be obtained by disruption of or blebbing from the outer membrane of the bacterium to form vesicles therefrom Thus the term "vesicles" typically means OMVs, blebs, microvesicles (MVs [25]) and 'native OMVs' ('NOMVs' [26]). It can typically also mean detergent-extracted OMV (DOMVs) and mutant-derived OMVs (m-OMV). The term "generalized module for membrane antigens" may be used for vesicles obtained from mutant bacteria.

[0086] Thus vesicles may be obtained by culturing an appropriate bacterium e.g. the bacterium of the disclosure under conditions which permit the release of vesicles, and a method of preparing vesicles from the bacterium of the disclosure thus may comprise or additionally comprise culturing an appropriate bacterium e.g. the bacterium of the disclosure under conditions which permit the release of vesicles.

[0087] Blebs (including MVs) are naturally-occurring membrane vesicles that form spontaneously during bacterial growth and are released into culture medium. Preferably, the vesicles of the disclosure are blebs because separation of spontaneously-released blebs from the culture medium is more convenient than methods which involve deliberate disruption of the outer membrane (e.g. by detergent treatment or sonication). Moreover, they are substantially free from inner membrane and cytoplasmic contamination. These vesicles typically have a diameter of 35-120nm or 20-100nm by electron microscopy e.g. 50nm diameter and can be purified from the culture medium. The purification ideally involves separating the vesicles from living and/or intact bacteria e.g. by size-based filtration using a filter, such as a 0.22µm filter, which allows the vesicles to pass through but which does not allow intact bacteria to pass through, or by using low speed centrifugation to pellet cells while leaving the vesicles in suspension. A preferred method involving a two stage size filtration process is described in ref. 27.

[0088] Thus, unlike the culture medium, vesicles -containing compositions of the disclosure will generally be substantially free from whole bacteria, whether living or dead. The size of the vesicles means that they can readily be separated from whole bacteria by filtration e.g. as typically used for filter sterilisation. Although vesicles will pass through a standard 0.22µm filters, these can rapidly become clogged by other material, and so it may be useful to perform sequential steps of filter sterilisation through a series of filters of decreasing pore size before using a 0.22µm filter. Examples of preceding filters would be those with pore size of 0.8µm, 0.45µm, etc.

[0089] In some embodiments OMVs may be prepared artificially from bacteria, and may be prepared using detergent treatment (e.g. with deoxycholate or sarkosyl), or by non-detergent means (e.g. see reference 28). Techniques for forming vesicles include treating bacteria with a bile acid salt detergent (e.g. salts of lithocholic acid, chenodeoxycholic acid, ursodeoxycholic acid, deoxycholic acid, cholic acid, ursocholic acid, etc., with sodium deoxycholate [29 & 30] being preferred for treating Neisseria) at a pH sufficiently high not to precipitate the detergent [31]. Other techniques may be performed substantially in the absence of detergent [28] using techniques such as sonication, homogenisation, microfluidisation, cavitation, osmotic shock, grinding, French press, blending, etc. Methods using no or low detergent can retain useful antigens such as NspA [28]. Thus a method may use an OMV extraction buffer with about 0.5% deoxycholate or lower e.g. about 0.2%, about 0.1%, <0.05% or zero.

[0090] A useful process for vesicles preparation is described in reference 32 and involves ultrafiltration on crude OMVs, rather than instead of high speed centrifugation. The process may involve a step of ultracentrifugation after the ultrafiltration takes place.

[0091] Thus vesicles may be obtained by treating an appropriate Gram negative bacterium e.g. a bacterium of the disclosure such that its outer membrane forms vesicles and a method of preparing vesicles from the bacterium of the disclosure thus may comprise or additionally comprise treating an appropriate Gram negative bacterium e.g. a bacterium of the disclosure such that its outer membrane forms vesicles.

Release of greater quantities of vesicles



[0092] NHTi mutants in which NT013 or NT022 are inactivated have been shown to release greater quantities of vesicles than wild type NTHi.

[0093] The bacterium of the disclosure in one embodiment may release greater quantities of vesicles into the culture medium, compared to the same bacterium in which the LytM catalytic domain containing protein is active. This may be an increase of at least 10, 20, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000% compared to the same bacterium in which the LytM catalytic domain containing protein is active.

[0094] Alternatively stated the disclosure provides a method of increasing vesicle production from a Gram negative bacterium, e.g. compared to the same bacterium in which the LytM catalytic domain containing protein is active, comprising modifying, e.g. inactivating at least one LytM catalytic domain containing protein in the bacterium. Optionally the bacterium is cultured.

Production of outer membrane vesicles with a different protein composition



[0095] NHTi mutants in which at least one LytM catalytic domain containing protein is inactivated have been shown to generate vesicles which have different protein compositions to wild type NTHi.

[0096] Specifically, compared to vesicles from wild type NHTi, vesicles from the NT013 mutant may have an increase in the amount of lipoprotein, an increase in the amount of periplasmic protein, a decrease in the amount of outer membrane protein.

[0097] Compared to vesicles from wild type NHTi, vesicles from the NT017 mutant may have an increase in the amount of cytoplasmic protein, and a decrease in the amount of outer membrane protein. Compared to vesicles from wild type NHTi, vesicles from the NT022 mutant may have an increase in the amount of lipoprotein, an increase in the amount of periplasmic protein, a decrease in the amount of outer membrane protein.

[0098] Lipoproteins NT069 (annotated as NTHI1957) and NTHI0353 may be found at increased levels in NTHi NT013 and NT022 mutant vesicles, compared to vesicles from wild type NHTi.

[0099] The periplasmic serine protease HhoA may be found at increased levels in NTHi NT013 mutant vesicles and/or at decreased levels in NTHi NT017 and NT022 mutant vesicles, compared to vesicles from wild type NHTi.

[0100] The outer membrane protein NTHI1668 may be found at increased levels in NTHi NT013, NT017 and NT022 mutant vesicles, compared to vesicles from wild type NHTi. The outer membrane protein P2, which is an abundant and variable protein, is found at decreased levels in NTHi NT013, NT017 and NT022 mutant vesicles, and the level of outer membrane protein P5 also changes compared to vesicles from wild type NHTi. The presence of P2 and P5, which are highly abundant in vesicles is believed to contribute to the lack of crossreactivity in sera generated against haemophilus OMVs and as such the reduction in P2 and/or total P2+P5 may be advantageous, e.g. in producing vesicles with improved crossreactivity.

[0101] Thus the vesicles of the disclosure may contain differences (e.g. increases or decreases, e.g. of at least 10, 20, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000%) in the total amount of protein, the amount of lipoprotein, the amount of periplasmic protein, the amount of outer membrane protein, and/or the amount of cytoplasmic protein compared to the same bacterium in which the LytM catalytic domain containing protein is active.

[0102] Thus the vesicles of the disclosure may contain differences (e.g. increases or decreases, e.g. of at least 10, 20, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000% in the amount of one or more proteins e.g. outer membrane proteins selected from (i) NHTi P2, (ii) NHTi P5, and (iii) total NHTi P2 + NHTi P5, compared to vesicles from the same bacterium in which the LytM catalytic domain containing protein is active. NTHi P2 and P5 are referred to but if the vesicles are from a different Gram negative bacterium, the P2 or P5 homolog, ortholog or paralog in that bacterium may be increased or decreased.

[0103] The disclosure thus provides a method of altering the total amount of protein, the amount of lipoprotein, the amount of periplasmic protein, the amount of outer membrane protein, and/or the amount of cytoplasmic protein in a vesicle from a Gram negative bacterium, e.g. compared to the same bacterium in which the LytM catalytic domain containing protein is active, comprising modifying, e.g. inactivating at least one LytM catalytic domain containing protein in the bacterium. Optionally the bacterium is cultured. Optionally the outer membrane protein is P2 and/or P5. The alteration may be as defined above.

Immunogenic compositions and medicaments



[0104] Immunogenic compositions of the disclosure may be useful as vaccines. Vaccines according to the disclosure may either be prophylactic (i.e. to prevent infection) or therapeutic (i.e. to treat infection), but will typically be prophylactic.

[0105] Compositions may thus be pharmaceutically acceptable. They will usually include components in addition to the antigens e.g. they typically include one or more pharmaceutical carrier(s) and/or excipient(s). A thorough discussion of such components is available in reference 33.

[0106] The disclosure therefore provides a pharmaceutical composition comprising (a) vesicles of the disclosure and (b) a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. The composition is suitable for pharmaceutical use. The disclosure also provides a process for preparing such a composition, comprising the step of admixing vesicles of the disclosure with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. The pharmaceutical composition is preferably an immunogenic composition.

[0107] Pharmaceutically acceptable carriers can be any substance that does not itself induce the production of antibodies harmful to the patient receiving the composition, and which can be administered without undue toxicity. Pharmaceutically acceptable carriers can include liquids such as water, saline, glycerol and ethanol. Auxiliary substances, such as wetting or emulsifying agents, pH buffering substances, and the like (e.g. stabilisers, preservatives), can also be present in such vehicles. A thorough discussion of suitable carriers is available in ref. 33.

[0108] Compositions will generally be administered to a mammal in aqueous form. Prior to administration, however, the composition may have been in a non-aqueous form. For instance, although some vaccines are manufactured in aqueous form, then filled and distributed and administered also in aqueous form, other vaccines are lyophilised during manufacture and are reconstituted into an aqueous form at the time of use. Thus a composition of the disclosure may be dried, such as a lyophilised formulation.

[0109] The composition may include preservatives such as thiomersal or 2-phenoxyethanol. It is preferred, however, that the vaccine should be substantially free from (i.e. less than 5µg/ml) mercurial material e.g. thiomersal-free. Vaccines containing no mercury are more preferred. Preservative-free vaccines are particularly preferred.

[0110] To improve thermal stability, a composition may include a temperature protective agent. Further details of such agents are provided below.

[0111] To control tonicity, it is preferred to include a physiological salt, such as a sodium salt. Sodium chloride (NaCl) is preferred, which may be present at between 1 and 20 mg/ml e.g. about 10+2mg/ml NaCl. Other salts that may be present include potassium chloride, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, disodium phosphate dehydrate, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, etc.

[0112] Compositions will generally have an osmolality of between 200 mOsm/kg and 400 mOsm/kg, preferably between 240-360 mOsm/kg, and will more preferably fall within the range of 290-310 mOsm/kg.

[0113] Compositions may include one or more buffers. Typical buffers include: a phosphate buffer; a Tris buffer; a borate buffer; a succinate buffer; a histidine buffer (particularly with an aluminum hydroxide adjuvant); or a citrate buffer. Buffers will typically be included in the 5-20mM range.

[0114] The pH of a composition will generally be between 5.0 and 8.1, and more typically between 6.0 and 8.0 e.g. 6.5 and 7.5, or between 7.0 and 7.8.

[0115] The composition is preferably sterile. The composition is preferably non-pyrogenic e.g. containing <1 EU (endotoxin unit, a standard measure) per dose, and preferably <0.1 EU per dose. The composition is preferably gluten free.

[0116] The composition may include material for a single immunisation, or may include material for multiple immunisations (i.e. a 'multidose' kit). The inclusion of a preservative is preferred in multidose arrangements. As an alternative (or in addition) to including a preservative in multidose compositions, the compositions may be contained in a container having an aseptic adaptor for removal of material.

[0117] Human vaccines are typically administered in a dosage volume of about 0.5ml, although a half dose (i.e. about 0.25ml) may be administered to children.

[0118] Immunogenic compositions of the disclosure can also comprise one or more immunoregulatory agents. Preferably, one or more of the immunoregulatory agents include one or more adjuvants. The adjuvants may include a TH1 adjuvant and/or a TH2 adjuvant, further discussed below.

[0119] Adjuvants which may be used in compositions of the disclosure include, but are not limited to:
  • mineral salts, such as aluminium salts and calcium salts, including hydroxides (e.g. oxyhydroxides), phosphates (e.g. hydroxyphosphates, orthophosphates) and sulphates, etc. [e.g. see chapters 8 & 9 of ref. 34];
  • oil-in-water emulsions, such as squalene-water emulsions, including MF59 (5% Squalene, 0.5% Tween 80, and 0.5% Span 85, formulated into submicron particles using a microfluidizer) (Chapter 10 of ref. 34; see also refs. 35-37, and chapter 12 of ref. 38], complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) and incomplete Freund's adjuvant (IFA);
  • saponin formulations [chapter 22 of ref. 34], such as QS21 [39] and ISCOMs [chapter 23 of ref. 34];
  • virosomes and virus-like particles (VLPs) [40-46];
  • bacterial or microbial derivatives, such as non-toxic derivatives of enterobacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), Lipid A derivatives [47, 48], immunostimulatory oligonucleotides [49-54], such as IC-31™ [55] (deoxynucleotide comprising 26-mer sequence 5'-(IC)13-3' (SEQ ID NO: 23) and polycationic polymer peptide comprising 11-mer amino acid sequence KLKLLLLLKLK (SEQ ID NO: 24) and ADP-ribosylating toxins and detoxified derivatives thereof [56 - 65];
  • human immunomodulators, including cytokines, such as interleukins (e.g. IL-1, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-7, IL-12 [66, 67], interferons (e.g. interferon-y), macrophage colony stimulating factor, and tumor necrosis factor;
  • bioadhesives and mucoadhesives, such as chitosan and derivatives thereof, esterified hyaluronic acid microspheres [68] or mucoadhesives, such as cross-linked derivatives of poly(acrylic acid), polyvinyl alcohol, polyvinyl pyrollidone, polysaccharides and carboxymethylcellulose [69];
  • microparticles (i.e. a particle of ∼100nm to ∼150µm in diameter, more preferably ∼200nm to ∼30µm in diameter, and most preferably ∼500nm to ∼10µm in diameter) formed from materials that are biodegradable and non-toxic (e.g. a poly(α-hydroxy acid), a polyhydroxybutyric acid, a polyorthoester, a polyanhydride, a polycaprolactone, etc.);
  • liposomes [Chapters 13 & 14 of ref. 34, ref. 70-72];
  • polyoxyethylene ethers and polyoxyethylene esters [73];
  • PCPP formulations [74 and 75];
  • muramyl peptides, including N-acetyl-muramyl-L-threonyl-D-isoglutamine (thr-MDP), N-acetyl-normuramyl-l-alanyl-d-isoglutamine (nor-MDP), and N-acetylmuramyl-l-alanyl-d-isoglutaminyl-l-alanine-2-(1'-2'-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-hydroxyphosphoryloxy)-ethylamine MTP-PE); and
  • imidazoquinolone compounds, including Imiquamod and its homologues (e.g. "Resiquimod 3M") [76 and 77].


[0120] Immunogenic compositions and vaccines of the disclosure may also comprise combinations of aspects of one or more of the adjuvants identified above. For example, the following adjuvant compositions may be used in the disclosure: (1) a saponin and an oil-in-water emulsion [78]; (2) a saponin (e.g. QS21) + a non-toxic LPS derivative (e.g. 3dMPL) [79]; (3) a saponin (e.g. QS21) + a non-toxic LPS derivative (e.g. 3dMPL) + a cholesterol; (4) a saponin (e.g. QS21) + 3dMPL + IL-12 (optionally + a sterol) [80]; (5) combinations of 3dMPL with, for example, QS21 and/or oil-in-water emulsions [81]; (6) SAF, containing 10% squalne, 0.4% Tween 80™, 5% pluronic-block polymer L121, and thr-MDP, either microfluidized into a submicron emulsion or vortexed to generate a larger particle size emulsion. (7) Ribi™ adjuvant system (RAS), (Ribi Immunochem) containing 2% squalene, 0.2% Tween 80, and one or more bacterial cell wall components from the group consisting of monophosphorylipid A (MPL), trehalose dimycolate (TDM), and cell wall skeleton (CWS), preferably MPL + CWS (Detox™); and (8) one or more mineral salts (such as an aluminum salt) + a non-toxic derivative of LPS (such as 3dMPL).

[0121] Other substances that act as immunostimulating agents are disclosed in chapter 7 of ref. 34.

[0122] The use of an aluminium hydroxide and/or aluminium phosphate adjuvant is particularly preferred, and antigens are generally adsorbed to these salts. Calcium phosphate is another preferred adjuvant. Other preferred adjuvant combinations include combinations of Thl and Th2 adjuvants such as CpG & alum or resiquimod & alum. A combination of aluminium phosphate and 3dMPL may be used (this has been reported as effective in pneumococcal immunisation [82]). The use of an MF59 adjuvant is preferred, in particular in case of IM (intramuscular) or IP (Intraperitoneal) immunization.

[0123] The compositions of the disclosure may elicit both a cell mediated immune response as well as a humoral immune response. This immune response will preferably induce long lasting (e.g. neutralising) antibodies and a cell mediated immunity that can quickly respond upon exposure to NTHI.

[0124] Two types of T cells, CD4 and CD8 cells, are generally thought necessary to initiate and/or enhance cell mediated immunity and humoral immunity. CD8 T cells can express a CD8 co-receptor and are commonly referred to as Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). CD8 T cells are able to recognized or interact with antigens displayed on MHC Class I molecules.

[0125] CD4 T cells can express a CD4 co-receptor and are commonly referred to as T helper cells. CD4 T cells are able to recognize antigenic peptides bound to MHC class II molecules. Upon interaction with a MHC class II molecule, the CD4 cells can secrete factors such as cytokines. These secreted cytokines can activate B cells, cytotoxic T cells, macrophages, and other cells that participate in an immune response. Helper T cells or CD4+ cells can be further divided into two functionally distinct subsets: TH1 phenotype and TH2 phenotypes which differ in their cytokine and effector function.

[0126] Activated TH1 cells enhance cellular immunity (including an increase in antigen-specific CTL production) and are therefore of particular value in responding to intracellular infections. Activated TH1 cells may secrete one or more of IL-2, IFN-γ, and TNF-β. A TH1 immune response may result in local inflammatory reactions by activating macrophages, NK (natural killer) cells, and CD8 cytotoxic T cells (CTLs). A TH1 immune response may also act to expand the immune response by stimulating growth of B and T cells with IL-12. TH1 stimulated B cells may secrete IgG2a.

[0127] Activated TH2 cells enhance antibody production and are therefore of value in responding to extracellular infections. Activated TH2 cells may secrete one or more of IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, and IL-10. A TH2 immune response may result in the production of IgG1, IgE, IgA and memory B cells for future protection.

[0128] An enhanced immune response may include one or more of an enhanced TH1 immune response and a TH2 immune response.

[0129] A TH1 immune response may include one or more of an increase in CTLs, an increase in one or more of the cytokines associated with a TH1 immune response (such as IL-2, IFN-γ, and TNF-β), an increase in activated macrophages, an increase in NK activity, or an increase in the production of IgG2a. Preferably, the enhanced TH1 immune response will include an increase in IgG2a production.

[0130] A TH1 immune response may be elicited using a TH1 adjuvant. A TH1 adjuvant will generally elicit increased levels of IgG2a production relative to immunization of the antigen without adjuvant. TH1 adjuvants suitable for use in the disclosure may include for example saponin formulations, virosomes and virus like particles, non-toxic derivatives of enterobacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), immunostimulatory oligonucleotides. Immunostimulatory oligonucleotides, such as oligonucleotides containing a CpG motif, are preferred TH1 adjuvants for use in the disclosure.

[0131] A TH2 immune response may include one or more of an increase in one or more of the cytokines associated with a TH2 immune response (such as IL-4, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-10), or an increase in the production of IgG1, IgE, IgA and memory B cells. Preferably, the enhanced TH2 immune response will include an increase in IgG1 production.

[0132] A TH2 immune response may be elicited using a TH2 adjuvant. A TH2 adjuvant will generally elicit increased levels of IgG1 production relative to immunization of the antigen without adjuvant. TH2 adjuvants suitable for use in the disclosure include, for example, mineral containing compositions, oil-emulsions, and ADP-ribosylating toxins and detoxified derivatives thereof. Mineral containing compositions, such as aluminium salts are preferred TH2 adjuvants for use in the disclosure.

[0133] Preferably, the disclosure includes a composition comprising a combination of a TH1 adjuvant and a TH2 adjuvant. Preferably, such a composition elicits an enhanced TH1 and an enhanced TH2 response, i.e., an increase in the production of both IgG1 and IgG2a production relative to immunization without an adjuvant. Still more preferably, the composition comprising a combination of a TH1 and a TH2 adjuvant elicits an increased TH1 and/or an increased TH2 immune response relative to immunization with a single adjuvant (i.e., relative to immunization with a TH1 adjuvant alone or immunization with a TH2 adjuvant alone).

[0134] The immune response may be one or both of a TH1 immune response and a TH2 response. Preferably, immune response provides for one or both of an enhanced TH1 response and an enhanced TH2 response.

[0135] The enhanced immune response may be one or both of a systemic and a mucosal immune response. Preferably, the immune response provides for one or both of an enhanced systemic and an enhanced mucosal immune response. Preferably the mucosal immune response is a TH2 immune response. Preferably, the mucosal immune response includes an increase in the production of IgA.

[0136] Bacterial infections can affect various areas of the body and so the compositions of the disclosure may be prepared in various forms. For example, the compositions may be prepared as injectables, either as liquid solutions or suspensions. Solid forms suitable for solution in, or suspension in, liquid vehicles prior to injection can also be prepared (e.g. a lyophilised composition or a spray-freeze dried composition). The composition may be prepared for topical administration e.g. as an ointment, cream or powder. The composition may be prepared for oral administration e.g. as a tablet or capsule, as a spray, or as a syrup (optionally flavoured). The composition may be prepared for pulmonary administration e.g. as an inhaler, using a fine powder or a spray. The composition may be prepared as a suppository or pessary. The composition may be prepared for nasal, aural or ocular administration e.g. as drops. The composition may be in kit form, designed such that a combined composition is reconstituted just prior to administration to a patient. Such kits may comprise one or more antigens in liquid form and one or more lyophilised antigens.

[0137] Where a composition is to be prepared extemporaneously prior to use (e.g. where a component is presented in lyophilised form) and is presented as a kit, the kit may comprise two vials, or it may comprise one ready-filled syringe and one vial, with the contents of the syringe being used to reactivate the contents of the vial prior to injection.

[0138] Immunogenic compositions used as vaccines comprise an immunologically effective amount of antigen(s), as well as any other components, as needed. By 'immunologically effective amount', it is meant that the administration of that amount to an individual, either in a single dose or as part of a series, is effective for treatment or prevention. This amount varies depending upon the health and physical condition of the individual to be treated, age, the taxonomic group of individual to be treated (e.g. non-human primate, primate, etc.), the capacity of the individual's immune system to synthesise antibodies, the degree of protection desired, the formulation of the vaccine, the treating doctor's assessment of the medical situation, and other relevant factors. It is expected that the amount will fall in a relatively broad range that can be determined through routine trials. Where more than one antigen is included in a composition then two antigens may be present at the same dose as each other or at different doses.

[0139] As mentioned above, a composition may include a temperature protective agent, and this component may be particularly useful in adjuvanted compositions (particularly those containing a mineral adjuvant, such as an aluminium salt). As described in reference 83, a liquid temperature protective agent may be added to an aqueous vaccine composition to lower its freezing point e.g. to reduce the freezing point to below 0°C. Thus the composition can be stored below 0°C, but above its freezing point, to inhibit thermal breakdown. The temperature protective agent also permits freezing of the composition while protecting mineral salt adjuvants against agglomeration or sedimentation after freezing and thawing, and may also protect the composition at elevated temperatures e.g. above 40°C. A starting aqueous vaccine and the liquid temperature protective agent may be mixed such that the liquid temperature protective agent forms from 1-80% by volume of the final mixture. Suitable temperature protective agents should be safe for human administration, readily miscible/soluble in water, and should not damage other components (e.g. antigen and adjuvant) in the composition. Examples include glycerin, propylene glycol, and/or polyethylene glycol (PEG). Suitable PEGs may have an average molecular weight ranging from 200-20,000 Da. In a preferred embodiment, the polyethylene glycol can have an average molecular weight of about 300 Da ('PEG-300').

[0140] Due to the particulate nature of vesicles a final vaccine product may be a suspension with a cloudy appearance. This appearance means that microbial contamination is not readily visible, and so the vaccine may contain an antimicrobial agent. This is particularly important when the vaccine is packaged in multidose containers. Preferred antimicrobials for inclusion are 2-phenoxyethanol and thimerosal. It is preferred, however, not to use mercurial preservatives (e.g. thimerosal), and it is preferred that the composition contains less than about 25 ng/ml mercury. More preferably, the composition is mercury-free.

[0141] Previous work with vesicle vaccines (e.g. for meningococcus) offers pharmaceutical, posological and formulation guidance for administering vesicles. The concentration of vesicles in compositions of the disclosure will generally be between 10 and 500 µg/ml, preferably between 25 and 200 µg/ml, and more preferably about 50 µg/ml or about 100 µg/ml (expressed in terms of total protein in the vesicles). Lower doses can be effective for seroconversion. Thus the concentration of vesicles in compositions of the disclosure can be in the range of 1 ng/ml to 10 µg/ml, or 1 ng/ml to 1 µg/ml, or 0.5 µg/ml to 50 µg/ml. A dosage volume of 0.5ml is typical for injection.

[0142] The composition may be administered in conjunction with other immunoregulatory agents.

Immunisation



[0143] The disclosure also provides a method for raising an immune response in a mammal comprising the step of administering an effective amount of a composition of the disclosure. The immune response is preferably protective and preferably involves antibodies and/or cell-mediated immunity. The method may raise a booster response.

[0144] The disclosure also provides compositions of the disclosure for use in medicine or as a medicament e.g. for use in raising an immune response in a mammal (e.g. as immunogenic compositions or as vaccines).

[0145] The immune response may be against Gram negative bacteria.

[0146] The disclosure also provides compositions of the disclosure in the manufacture of a medicament for raising an immune response in a mammal or for preventing disease in a mammal and the use of vesicles of the disclosure in the manufacture of a medicament for raising an immune response in a mammal or for preventing disease in a mammal.

[0147] By raising an immune response in the mammal by these uses and methods, the mammal can be protected against bacterial, e.g. Gram negative bacteria such as H. influenzae infection.

[0148] The disclosure is effective against H. influenzae of various different serotypes, but can be particularly useful in protecting against disease resulting from infection by non-typeable H. influenzae (NTHI). In accordance with the disclosure, an infection may be associated with a disease or condition selected from, for instance, otitis media (including acute otitis media), bronchitis, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, bacteremia, septic arthritis, epiglottitis, pneumonia, empyema, pericarditis, cellulitis, osteomyelitis, lower respiratory tract infection or meningitis. The disclosure is particularly useful for treating or preventing inflammation of the middle ear or for treating or preventing COPD diseases, by eliciting an immune response that prevents bacteria from moving from the throat to the middle ear via the eustachian tube, where the middle ear is then colonised.

[0149] The disclosure also provides a kit comprising a first component and a second component wherein neither the first component nor the second component is a composition of the disclosure as described above, but wherein the first component and the second component can be combined to provide a composition of the disclosure as described above. The kit may further include a third component comprising one or more of the following: instructions, syringe or other delivery device, adjuvant, or pharmaceutically acceptable formulating solution.

[0150] The disclosure also provides a delivery device pre-filled with an immunogenic composition of the disclosure.

[0151] The mammal is preferably a human, e.g. human patient. Where the vaccine is for prophylactic use, the human is preferably a child (e.g. a toddler or infant) or a teenager; where the vaccine is for therapeutic use, the human is preferably a teenager or an adult. A vaccine intended for children may also be administered to adults e.g. to assess safety, dosage, immunogenicity, etc. A mammal (e.g. human, e.g. a patient) may either be at risk from the disease themselves or may be a pregnant female, e.g. woman ('maternal immunisation').

[0152] One way of checking efficacy of therapeutic treatment involves monitoring bacterial, e.g. H. influenzae infection after administration of the compositions of the disclosure. One way of checking efficacy of prophylactic treatment involves monitoring immune responses, systemically (such as monitoring the level of IgG1 and IgG2a production) and/or mucosally (such as monitoring the level of IgA production), against the antigens in the compositions of the disclosure after administration of the composition. Immunogenicity of compositions of the disclosure can be determined by administering them to test subjects (e.g. children 12-16 months age, or animal models such as a chinchilla model [84]) and then determining standard parameters including ELISA titres (GMT) of IgG. These immune responses will generally be determined around 4 weeks after administration of the composition, and compared to values determined before administration of the composition. Where more than one dose of the composition is administered, more than one post-administration determination may be made. Typically, antigen-specific serum antibody responses are determined post-immunisation but pre-challenge whereas antigen-specific mucosal antibody responses are determined post-immunisation and post-challenge.

[0153] The efficacy of vaccine compositions can also be determined in vivo by immunization studies in animal models of bacterial e.g. H. influenzae infection, e.g., guinea pigs Chinchillas, or mice, with the vaccine compositions. One such model is described in reference 85.

[0154] Other useful animal model to be used to determine in vivo the efficacy of vaccine compositions of the disclosure is described in reference 86.

[0155] Compositions of the disclosure will generally be administered directly to a patient. Direct delivery may be accomplished by parenteral injection (e.g. subcutaneously, intraperitoneally, intravenously, intramuscularly, or to the interstitial space of a tissue), or mucosal, such as by rectal, oral, (e.g. tablet, spray), vaginal, topical, transdermal or transcutaneous, intranasal, ocular, aural, pulmonary or other mucosal administration.

[0156] The disclosure may be used to elicit systemic and/or mucosal immunity, preferably to elicit an enhanced systemic and/or mucosal immunity.

[0157] Preferably the enhanced systemic and/or mucosal immunity is reflected in an enhanced TH1 and/or TH2 immune response. Preferably, the enhanced immune response includes an increase in the production of IgG1 and/or IgG2a and/or IgA.

[0158] Dosage can be by a single dose schedule or a multiple dose schedule. Multiple doses may be used in a primary immunisation schedule and/or in a booster immunisation schedule. In a multiple dose schedule the various doses may be given by the same or different routes e.g. a parenteral prime and mucosal boost, a mucosal prime and parenteral boost, etc. Multiple doses will typically be administered at least 1 week apart (e.g. about 2 weeks, about 3 weeks, about 4 weeks, about 6 weeks, about 8 weeks, about 10 weeks, about 12 weeks, about 16 weeks, etc.).

[0159] Vaccines prepared according to the disclosure may be used to treat both children and adults. Thus a human patient may be less than 1 year old, 1-5 years old, 5-15 years old, 15-55 years old, or at least 55 years old. Preferred patients for receiving the vaccines are the elderly (e.g. ≥50 years old, ≥60 years old, and preferably ≥65 years), the young (e.g. ≤5 years old), hospitalised patients, healthcare workers, armed service and military personnel, pregnant women, the chronically ill, or immunodeficient patients. The vaccines are not suitable solely for these groups, however, and may be used more generally in a population.

[0160] Vaccines produced by the disclosure may be administered to patients at substantially the same time as (e.g. during the same medical consultation or visit to a healthcare professional or vaccination centre) other vaccines e.g. at substantially the same time as a measles vaccine, a mumps vaccine, a rubella vaccine, a MMR vaccine, a varicella vaccine, a MMRV vaccine, a diphtheria vaccine, a tetanus vaccine, a pertussis vaccine, a DTP vaccine, a conjugated H.influenzae type b vaccine, an inactivated poliovirus vaccine, a hepatitis B virus vaccine, a meningococcal conjugate vaccine (such as a tetravalent A-C-W135-Y vaccine), a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine, etc.

Mucosal immunisation



[0161] The disclosure provides the compositions of the disclosure for mucosal immunisation. The disclosure also provides a method for raising an immune response in a mammal comprising the step of administering an effective amount of such an immunogenic composition to the mammal. The composition is preferably administered via mucosa (to a mucosal surface) e.g. it may be administered intranasal.

[0162] A bacterial ADP-ribosylating toxin and or detoxified derivative thereof may be present which may be, for example, derived from E.coli heat labile enterotoxin ("LT"). The derivative may have a detoxifying mutation in its A subunit e.g. it may be LT-K63 or LT-R72. In particular it may be LT-K63. In other embodiments, it is not LT-K63.

[0163] Intranasal administration of compositions of the disclosure and a LT-K63 adjuvant is preferred. This may decrease the H. influenzae bacterial load in the nasopharynx, lungs and blood, and increase survival rate of infected mammals.

Further antigenic components of compositions of the disclosure



[0164] The disclosure also provides compositions further comprising at least one non-typeable H. influenzae antigen or at least one further non-typeable H. influenzae antigen.

[0165] The disclosure also provides compositions further comprising at least one antigen that is not a non-typeable H. influenzae antigen.

[0166] In particular, the disclosure also provides a composition comprising one or more polypeptides of the disclosure and one or more of the following further antigens:
  • an antigen from N. meningitidis serogroup A, B, C, W135 and/or Y.
  • a saccharide or polypeptide antigen from Streptococcus pneumoniae [e.g. 87, 88, 89].
  • an antigen from hepatitis A virus, such as inactivated virus [e.g. 90, 91].
  • an antigen from hepatitis B virus, such as the surface and/or core antigens [e.g. 91, 92].
  • a diphtheria antigen, such as a diphtheria toxoid [e.g. chapter 3 of ref. 93] or the CRM197 mutant [e.g. 94].
  • a tetanus antigen, such as a tetanus toxoid [e.g. chapter 4 of ref. 93].
  • an antigen from Bordetella pertussis, such as pertussis holotoxin (PT) and filamentous haemagglutinin (FHA) from B. pertussis, optionally also in combination with pertactin and/or agglutinogens 2 and 3 [e.g. refs. 95 & 96].
  • a whole cellular pertussis antigen
  • a saccharide antigen from Haemophilus influenzae B [e.g. 97].
  • polio antigen(s) [e.g. 98, 99] such as IPV.
  • measles, mumps and/or rubella antigens [e.g. chapters 9, 10 & 11 of ref. 93].
  • influenza antigen(s) [e.g. chapter 19 of ref. 93], such as the haemagglutinin and/or neuraminidase surface proteins.
  • an antigen from Moraxella catarrhalis [e.g. 100].
  • an protein antigen from Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus) [e.g. 101, 102].
  • a saccharide antigen from Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus).
  • an antigen from Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) [e.g. 102, 103, 104].
  • an antigen from Staphylococcus aureus [e.g. 105].
  • an antigen from Respiratory Syncytial Virus, e.g. a recombinant protein F
  • a vaccine composition comprising diphtheria (D), tetanus (T), pertussis (acellular, component) (Pa), hepatitis B (rDNA) (HBV), poliomyelitis (inactivated) (IPV) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccine (adsorbed), e.g. Infanrix-hexa


[0167] The composition may comprise one or more of these further antigens. Combinations with a RSV vaccine and/or with a DTPa-containing vaccine are of particular interest.

[0168] Toxic protein antigens may be detoxified where necessary (e.g. detoxification of pertussis toxin by chemical and/or genetic means [96]).

[0169] Where a diphtheria antigen is included in the composition it is preferred also to include tetanus antigen and pertussis antigens. Similarly, where a tetanus antigen is included it is preferred also to include diphtheria and pertussis antigens. Similarly, where a pertussis antigen is included it is preferred also to include diphtheria and tetanus antigens. DTP combinations are thus preferred.

[0170] Saccharide antigens are preferably in the form of conjugates. Carrier proteins for the conjugates include diphtheria toxin, tetanus toxin, the N. meningitidis outer membrane protein [106], synthetic peptides [107,108], heat shock proteins [109,110], pertussis proteins [111,112], protein D from H. influenzae [113], cytokines [114], lymphokines [114], streptococcal proteins, hormones [114], growth factors [114], toxin A or B from C. difficile [115], iron-uptake proteins [116], etc. A preferred carrier protein is the CRM197 mutant of diphtheria toxin [117].

[0171] Antigens in the composition will typically be present at a concentration of at least 1µg/ml each. In general, the concentration of any given antigen will be sufficient to elicit an immune response against that antigen.

[0172] As an alternative to using proteins antigens in the immunogenic compositions of the disclosure, nucleic acid (preferably DNA e.g. in the form of a plasmid) encoding the antigen may be used.

[0173] Antigens are preferably adsorbed to an aluminium salt.

General



[0174] The term "comprising" encompasses "including" as well as "consisting" e.g. a composition "comprising" X may consist exclusively of X or may include something additional e.g. X + Y.

[0175] The term "about" in relation to a numerical value x is optional and means, for example, x±10%.

[0176] The word "substantially" does not exclude "completely" e.g. a composition which is "substantially free" from Y may be completely free from Y. Where necessary, the word "substantially" may be omitted from the definition of the disclosure.

[0177] References to a percentage sequence identity between two amino acid sequences means that, when aligned, that percentage of amino acids are the same in comparing the two sequences. This alignment and the percent homology or sequence identity can be determined using software programs known in the art, for example those described in section 7.7.18 of reference 118. A preferred alignment is determined by the Smith-Waterman homology search algorithm using an affine gap search with a gap open penalty of 12 and a gap extension penalty of 2, BLOSUM matrix of 62. The Smith-Waterman homology search algorithm is well known and is disclosed in reference 119.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS



[0178] 

Fig. 1: Expression and subcellular localization of NTHi LytM factors. (A) Western blot analysis on different cell compartments extracts were performed using specific antisera raised against NT013, NT017 and NT022. 1 - Recombinant protein, 2 - total extract WT, 3 total extract KO, 4 - outer membrane proteins WT, 5 - outer membrane proteins KO, 6 - periplasmic fraction WT, 7 - periplasmic fraction KO, 8 - supernatant, WT 9 - supernatant KO. Red arrows indicate the specific signals. As expected, no specific reactivity is observed with the mutant strains; however the antisera cross-react with other not specific bands present also in the knockout strains which were not characterized. (B) Immunofluorescence microscopy analysis on Hi176 wild type strain and 176ΔNT022 mutant confirming the surface localization of protein NT022. Bacteria are red and LytM factors in green. (C) Model of LytM proteins localization in NTHi.

Fig. 2: Phenotypic characterization of NTHi Hi176 wild type and LytM mutants. Aggregation phenotype in liquid static cultures growth for 16h at 37°C (A) and CFU per milliliter (B) CFU counts was performed at two different OD. The 176ΔNT017 strain has a growth rate and a CFU similar to the parent strain, while the 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 mutants showed a reduced growth rate growth and a lower CFU. (C) Confocal imaging showing bacterial aggregation of 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 strains, bacteria are stained in red and Dapi in blue.

Fig. 3: Confocal and electron microscopy on LytM mutants. (A) Confocal imaging of Hi176 wt, 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022, bacteria are stained in red (anti total bacterium) and blue (DAPI). (B) Scanning electron microscopy of 176 wt, 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022. The mutant 176ΔNT017 does not show any difference compared to the wild type strain (data not shown).

Fig. 4: Septum formation in LytM mutants. Transmission electron microscopy on Hi176 wt and LytM mutants. Red arrows indicate impaired septum formation in mutants 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022.

Fig. 5: The mutants 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 release more OMVs than the wild type strain. Transmission electron microscopy of Hi176WT, 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 mutants and of their respective OMVs preparations. Red arrows indicate OMVs that are released from bacterial surface.

Fig. 6: Analysis of OMVs. Coomassie stained SDS page gel of OMVs prepared from the wild type, 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 strains (A). Mass spectrometry identification was performed on selected bands (B). Luciferase assay using HEK293 cells stably expressing NF-κB-luciferase reporter cassette and TLR2 (C) or TLR4/MD2/CD14 (D). The stimulation of TLR receptors is assessed by measuring the NF-κB-induced luciferase activity after 6 hours incubation with serially diluted OMVs. IL-6 and TNFα levels were measured in hPBMCs stimulated (O.N.) with different dilutions of OMVs purified from wt and mutant strains (E-F).

Fig. 7: Analysis of proteins found in OMVs

Fig. 8: Lipoproteins in OMVs. OMVs from WT, ΔtolR, Δ17 have similar amounts of lipoproteins, while Δ13 and Δ22 mutants are enriched for lipoproteins, in particular NTHI1957 and NTHI 0353 lipoproteins.

Fig. 9: Periplasmic proteins in OMVs. The major periplasmic protein is the periplasmic serine protease do HhoA. This is particularly true from the vesicle derived from Δ13. Compared to OMVs generated from the WT, OMVs derived from ΔtoIR and Δ22 are enriched in periplasmic proteins. Compared to OMVs generated from the WT, OMVs derived from Δ17 contain low amount of periplasmic proteins.

Fig. 10: Outer membrane proteins in OMVs. From each type of OMVs, the most abundant outer membrane proteins are the nt099 (outer membrane protein P2) and nt092 (outer membrane protein P5). The main drop in outer membrane protein amount observed for OMVs derived from Δ13 and Δ22 is due to the reduction of P2.

Fig. 11: Relative amounts of proteins in OMVs. Relative amounts of proteins nt067, nt014, nt022 and nt016 found in OMVs produced by mutant strains, relative to the wild type strain.

Fig. 12: DAPI staining of MC58 Δ1483 and wild type bacteria.

Fig. 13: TEM (A) and SEM (B) analysis of MC58 Δ1483 and wild type bacteria.

Fig. 14: Protein analysis of vesicles produced by MC58 Δ1483 and wild type bacteria.

Fig. 15: DAPI staining of BP1721 knockout and wild type bacteria.

Fig. 16: Multiple alignment for the NlpD homologues.

Fig. 17: Multiple alignment for the YebA homologues.

Fig. 18: Multiple alignment for the EnvC homologues.

Fig. 19: Protein analysis of vesicles produced by Bp W28 9G/129K ΔNlpD and wild type bacteria.


MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE DISCLOSURE



[0179] Single knock-out non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) mutants were generated for three LytM metalloproteases: NTHI0532 (NT013), NTHI0915 (NT017) and NTHI0830 (NT022). These mutants displayed cell surface defects which caused an increase in the release of Outer Membrane Vesicles (OMVs). Furthermore, these proteins were shown to be involved in bacterial cell division and pathogenesis. In particular, NT013 and NT022 are fundamental for peptidoglycan cleavage and cell splitting. NT017 has a strong influence on NTHi colonization and host immunity evasion.

METHODS


Bacterial strains and growth conditions



[0180] NTHi Strain 176 was used for this study. It was part of a Finnish otitis media cohort study, as isolate obtained from the middle ear. NTHi was cultivated on chocolate agar polivitex (BioMerieux) incubated at 37°C with 5% CO2. Brain-heart infusion (BHI) broth (Difco Laboratories) supplemented with 10 µg/mL each of haemin (Fluka Biochemika) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD, Sigma) was used as fluid growth medium. Escherichia coli strains DH5α, HK100 and BL21 (DE3) (Invitrogen) were used for cloning and expression of LytM proteins. They were cultured at 37°C in Luria Bertani (LB) medium and, when required, supplemented with 100 µg/mL ampicillin.

Cell cultures



[0181] Tissue culture cells used in this study are Chang epithelial cells (Wong-Kilbourne derivative, clone 1-5c-4, human conjunctiva, ATCC® CCL-20.2™) and HEK293 (human kidney, ATCC® CRL1573™). Chang cells were maintained in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium (D-MEM; Gibco) supplemented with 25 mM Hepes, 15 mM L-glutamine, antibiotics and 10% (vol/vol) heat-inactivated fetal calf serum (FCS, Invitrogen Corporation). They were grown at 37°C with 5% CO2.

[0182] HEK293 cells stably expressing TLR2 or TLR4/MD2/CD14 and the NF-κB-luciferase reporter cassette, were cultured in DMEM containing 4.5 g/ml glucose, supplemented with 10% heat inactivated FBS, 100 U/ml pelicillin, 100 µg/ml streptomycin, 2 mM glutamine, 5 µg/ml puromycin 250 µg/ml hygromycin (and plus 10 µg/ml Blasticidin for HEK293-TLR4 cells).

Cloning of genes coding for LytM proteins



[0183] LytM genes were cloned into the pET15b+ vector (Novagen) by the polymerase incomplete primer extension (PIPE) method (119). In brief, sequences coding for each protein were amplified by PCR from the HI176 genomic DNA, removing the signal peptide. PCRs generated mixtures of incomplete extension products; by primer design, short overlapping sequences were introduced at the ends of these incomplete extension mixtures, which allowed complementary strands to anneal and produce hybrid vector-insert combinations. Escherichia coli HK100 cells [120] were then transformed with vector-insert hybrids. Single ampicillin-resistant colonies were selected and checked for the presence of the recombinant plasmid by PCR. Plasmids from positive clones were isolated and subcloned into competent E. coli BL21(DE3) cells.

Expression and purification of recombinant proteins



[0184] For protein purification, one single colony of E. coli BL21(DE3) strain expressing NTHI0532, NTHI0915 and NTHI0830 were inoculated in LB + ampicillin and grown overnight at 37°C, diluted in fresh LB medium and grown at 30°C to an OD of 0.6-0.8. The protein over-expression was induced by the addition of 1 mM isopropyl-1-thio-β-D-galactopyranoside (IPTG; Sigma) for 4 hours. Recombinant 6 x His-fusion proteins was purified by affinity chromatography on Ni2+-conjugated chelating fast-flow Sepharose 4B resin (Pharmacia). The purity was checked by SDS-PAGE electrophoresis staining with Coomassie blue. Protein concentration was determined using the bicinchoninic acid (BCA) assay (Thermo Scientific).

Construction of the Knockout mutants



[0185] Deleted mutants of NTHI0532, NTHI0915 and NTHI0830 were constructed by allelic replacement of each whole gene with an erythromycin resistance cassette. Upstream and downstream regions of the three genes were amplified by PCR using the primers listed below and cloned in Stratagene pSC-A TOPO vector. Erythromycin resistance cassette was purified from pIM13 plasmid. The constructs containing upstream regions, resistance cassette and downstream regions were assembled. Plasmids obtained were linearized and used to transform 176 NTHi strain using MIV protocol [121]. Knockout strains obtained were confirmed by PCR, western blot and locus sequencing.
NT013 NT013 5'FOR TTGCACGCGCCAATAATACC SEQ ID NO: 25
NT013 5'REV TGCATGCATTTACGTGTTGCACTGGCATC SEQ ID NO: 26
NT013 3'FOR TGCATGCATTGTTCGTGTTCGTGAAGCAG SEQ ID NO: 27
NT013 3'REV AACGCGATTGCGTAATGCAG SEQ ID NO: 28
NT017 NT017 5'FOR TGCTGGTGCAATTTGATCTTC SEQ ID NO: 29
NT017 5'REV TGCATGCATTGATTAACGCCAAAACGCAAC SEQ ID NO: 30
NT017 3'FOR TGCATGCATATTAGCCGTAAAGGAACGCC SEQ ID NO: 31
NT017 3'REV TGGCGATCTAATGAACGCAC SEQ ID NO: 32
NT022 NT022 5'FOR AAACATTGTGCAACAATGGGG SEQ ID NO: 33
NT022 5'REV TGCATGCATACAAGACTCAAAGGGAGTAAG SEQ ID NO: 34
NT022 3'FOR TGCATGCATGGATCCAGTACGTTACCTAC SEQ ID NO: 35
NT022 3'REV GTTTCTTTGTCCGCAGGTTC SEQ ID NO: 36

Preparation of polyclonal antisera



[0186] Groups of four CD1 mice were immunized to produce polyclonal antisera; 10 µg of purified protein was used for each mouse. The recombinant protein was given intraperitoneally in the presence of aluminum. A second (day 21) and a third (day 35) booster doses were administered. Blood sample was taken on day 49.

[0187] The treatments were performed in accordance with internal animal ethical committee and institutional guidelines.

Cell fractionation and western blot analysis



[0188] Haemophilus strains were grown in BHI until mid-log phase at 37°C with 5% CO2.

[0189] Whole cell lysates and periplasmic fractions were purified using PeriPreps Periplasting kit from Epicentre. Outer membrane proteins (OMPs) were recovered on the basis of Sarkosyl-insolubility following the rapid procedure as described by Carlone et al. [122].

[0190] To prepare culture supernatants, bacteria were harvested at 13000 g for 10 min at 4°C. 1 ml of culture supernatant was filtered through a 0.22 mm filter and precipitated with vol of 50% TCA for 1h at 4°C.

[0191] After centrifugation at 13000 g for 30 min, the achieved pellet was washed once with 70% ethanol and resuspended in IX sample loading buffer.

[0192] Proteins of each cell fraction were separated by SDS-PAGE electrophoresis using NuPAGE Gel System, according to the manufacturer's instructions (Invitrogen), and revealed by Coomassie-blue staining or transferred onto nitrocellulose membranes for Western blot analysis.

[0193] Western blots were performed according to standard procedures. The different LytM proteins were identified with a polyclonal mouse antiserum raised against recombinant NTHI0532, NTHI0915 and NTHI0830 (diluted 1:1000) and an anti-mouse antiserum conjugated to horseradish peroxidase (DAKO), as secondary antibody. Bands were visualized with Super Signal Chemiluminescent Substrate (Pierce) and with Opti 4CN Substrate Kit (Bio-Rad) following the manufacturer's instructions.

Confocal Microscopy



[0194] The presence of LytM proteins on NTHi surface was checked using confocal imaging. Knockout mutants were used as negative controls. Bacteria were grown until exponential phase, and fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde (Sigma). After multiple washings, bacteria were spread on polylisine-coated slides and blocked with PBS + 3% bovine serum albumin (BSA) (Sigma) for 30 min at room temperature. Samples were washed and incubated with specific antisera (1:1000) for 15 min at room temperature. LytM antisera were preadsorbed with intact KO bacteria to minimize cross-reactivity. Bacteria were washed several time with PBS and incubated with Alexa Fluor 488 goat anti-mouse IgG (1:400) (Molecular Probes). Labelled samples were mounted with ProLong®Gold antifade reagent with DAPI (Molecular Probes) and analysed with ZeissLSM710 confocal microscope.

Scanning and transmission electron microscopy



[0195] Electron microscopy was performed on 176wt and knockout strains to observe defects in bacterial morphology. Bacteria were grown until exponential phase, washed with PBS and fixed overnight in cacodylate sucrose buffer containing 2.5% glutaraldehyde and 2.5% paraformaldehyde. Samples were then postfixed in 1% OsO4 and 0.15% ruthenium red in cacodylate buffer, blocked with 1% uranyl acetate and dehydrated with serial dilution of acetone.

[0196] For SEM, samples were then dried by the critical point method using CO2 in a Balzers Union CPD 020, sputter-coated with gold in a Balzers MED 010 unit, and observed with a JEOL JSM 5200 electron microscope. For TEM, samples were fixed and dehydrated as described above then embedded in Epon-based resin. Thin sections were cut with a Reichert Ultracut ultramicrotome by use of a diamond knife, collected on collodion copper grids, stained with uranyl acetate and lead citrate, and observed with a JEOL 1200 EX II electron microscope.

Preparation of outer membrane vesicles



[0197] Native Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) were isolated from WT and mutant strains, growing the bacteria until exponential phase in 200 ml BHI cultures. Bacteria were then centrifuged and supernatant were filtered and left at 4°C overnight adding proteases inhibitor and EDTA. Supernatant were ultracentrifuged for 3 hours at maximum 200000 X g and final pellet containing OMVs was resuspended in PBS.

Mass spectrometry



[0198] SDS-PAGE Coomassie stained bands were excised and destained in 50 mM NH4HCO3 50% acetonitrile. After a drying step, bands were in-gel digested with 12.5 ng/ml Trypsin in 5 mM NH4HCO3 overnight at 37°C. The reaction was stopped by the addition of 0.1% final concentration Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and the samples were subjected to MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry analysis. 1 µl of digestion solution was spotted on a PAC target (Prespotted AnchorChip 96, set for Proteomics, Bruker Daltonics) and air-dried at room temperature. Spots were washed with 0.6 µl a solution of 70% (vol/vol) ethanol, 0.1% (vol/vol) TFA. Peptide mass spectra were externally calibrated using the standards pre-spotted on the target. Peptide molecular masses determination was performed using a MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometer UltraFlex (Bruker Daltonics, Bremen, GmbH). Ions generated by laser desorption at 337 nm (N2 laser) were recorded at an acceleration voltage of 25 kV in the reflector mode. In general, approximately 200 single spectra were accumulated for improving the signal/noise ration and analyzed by FlexAnalysis (version 2.4, Bruker Daltonics) Peptide mass fingerprints were performed using MASCOT searches against Haemophilus influenzae 86-028NP database using the following parameters: (i) 1 as number of allowed missed cleavages, (ii) methionine oxidation as variable modification, (iii) 75 ppm as peptide tolerance. Only significant hits were considered, as defined by the MASCOT scoring and probability system.

Reactogenicity assays



[0199] For luciferase assay HEK293-TLR2 and HEK293-TLR4 cells were seeded into microclear 96-well bottom plates in 90 µl of complete medium in absence of selection antibiotics. After overnight incubation, cells were stimulated in duplicates with different concentration of OMVs (10 µl/well) starting from 1 mg/ml diluted 1:2 in PBS, for 6 h. Then the medium were discarded and cells were lysed with 20 µl of Passive Lysis Buffer (Promega) for 20 min at room temperature. Luciferase levels were measured by addition of 100 µl/well Luciferase Assay Substrate (Promega) using LMax II384 microplate reader (Molecular Devices). Raw light units (RLU) from each sample were divided by the RLU of the control sample (PBS) and expressed as Fold Induction (FI).

[0200] PBMCs (Pheripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells) were isolated from buffy coats of healthy donors using Ficoll (Amersham Biosciences) density gradient centrifugation. Cells were seeded into microclear 96-well bottom plates in 180 µl of RPMI (GIBCO) supplemented with 10% of heat-inactivated FBS, 100 U/ml pelicillin, 100 µg/ml streptomycin, 2 mM glutamine. Cells were stimulated with different concentration of OMVs (20µl/well) starting from 1 mg/ml diluted 1:2 in PBS, for overnight. Mesoscale Assay Human-Proinflammatory 7-spot (MSD Technology) is used for detection of inflammatory cytokines following manufacturer's instructions.

RESULTS



[0201] NT013, NT017 and NT022 of NTHi show a significant homology with a number of previously characterized LytM-proteins expressed by other Gram-negative bacteria. In particular, E. coli proteins known to be involved in the cell division process such as YebA, EnvC and NlpD show an amino acid identity of 49% with NT013, 40% with NT017 and 43% with NT022, respectively. LytM catalytic domains are the most conserved regions between NTHi and E. coli proteins, in fact, the homology percentage grows up to 79% for this specific domain.

LytM proteins are differently distributed on NTHi compartments



[0202] In order to verify expression and the subcellular localization of LytM proteins NT013, NT017 and NT022, single deletion mutants of the genes codifying for the three LytM proteins were generated in NTHi176 strain. Immunoblotting with specific antisera raised against each of the LytM recombinant proteins was performed to determine the level of expression in periplasmic, outer membrane and supernatant fractions.

[0203] As shown in Fig. 1A, NT013 was detected in the outer membrane protein extracts, NT017 in the periplasmic fraction, while NT022 was found in all fractions. As a control, none of the antisera recognized specific bands at 53 kDa, 46 kDa and 42.5 kDa corresponding to NT013, NT017 and NT022 in cell preparations from the respective knockout mutant strains (Fig. 1A).

[0204] Surprisingly, confocal immunofluorescence microscopy of bacteria stained for NT013 revealed no specific signal of the protein on the bacterial surface, indicating that NT013 could be associated to the inner layer of the outer membrane as it was found to be present in the outer membrane fraction by western blot analysis. As expected, NT017, which was found in the periplasmatic fraction, was negative by confocal microscopy analysis and NT022 was confirmed to be exposed on the bacterial surface (Fig. 1B). Of interest, it appears that the antigen is translocated on the bacterial surface at specific foci close to the division septum (Fig. 1B). A model of the protein localisation is illustrated in Fig. 1C.

176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 exhibit aberrant cell morphology and severe cell separation defects



[0205] To investigate whether NTHi LytM proteins, NT013 and NT022, played a role in cell separation, single isogenic knockout mutants (176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022) were cultured on solid or liquid medium and compared to the wild type strain. These showed no differences in colony morphology as visualized by light microscopy. To evaluate the effect of the mutations, knockout strains were grown in liquid BHI at 37°C. There were no significant differences in the growth rate of WT and mutants, but a phenotype of aggregation was observed in liquid cultures for 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 (Fig. 2A), and was confirmed by confocal imaging (Fig. 2C). The number of bacterial colonies was also measured at two different OD by plating cultures serial dilution on agar chocolate plates. Colony forming units (CFU) per millilitre of 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 was much lower than the wild type Hi176 and of 176ΔNT017, indeed CFU derived from 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 are respectively only about 10% and 1% with respect to the parent strain (Fig. 2B).

[0206] To verify whether the bacterial aggregation phenotype was due to a failure in cell separation, we used confocal and scanning electron microscopy which clearly showed that 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 mutants differ from the wild type in dimension and morphology (Fig. 3A and 3B).

[0207] In particular, 176ΔNT013 cells appeared roughly four times longer than the wild type strain and are bended in the central portion. On the other hand, 176ΔNT022 mutant forms longer chains (up to 0.1 mm), while no evident morphological differences were observed for 176ΔNT017. The same phenotype was observed when LytM mutants were generated in a different strain (Hi162), indicating the ubiquitous functional properties of such determinants.

[0208] This result indicates that NT013 and NT022 are involved in bacterial separation, although they are not essential for NTHi cell growth.

176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 mutants release outer membrane vesicles



[0209] Defective septum formation in 176ΔNT013 and 176ΔNT022 mutants was observed in transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of bacterial cell surfaces (Fig. 4). Moreover, an exclusive formation of blebs on the surface of both these mutants was highlighted (Fig. 5).

[0210] This membrane blebbing is believed to be due to an overproduction of Outer Membrane Vesicles (OMVs) which are naturally secreted by Gram negative bacteria. Native OMVs were purified from these two mutants and from the Hi176 strain to verify the quality and to quantify OMV release. Isolation of OMVs revealed that both mutant strains produce more vesicles with respect to the wild type strain (Fig. 5). TEM analysis of OMV preparations confirmed the presence of vesicles with an apparent diameter of 20 to 100 nm (Fig. 5). OMV overproduction in LytM mutants was quantified and showed a fourfold increase with respect to WT (Lowry Method for protein quantitation).

Protein composition of outer membrane vesicles



[0211] To compare the protein composition of the OMVs extracted from each strain, samples were run on a SDS-page gel and a Coomassie blue staining was performed (Fig.6A). Protein patterns were similar between wild type and mutant strains, although a few bands showed a different intensity. As expected, mass spectrometry analysis associated these bands to a number of known surface determinants, including HMW1 and 2, HtrA, P2, P5 and OMP26 (Fig. 6B). Comparisons were made with the known TolR mutant as well as wild type.

[0212] OMVs purified from the mutants strains were analysed for their protein content and compared to OMVs purified from the wild type strain on the basis of mass spectroscopy of selected bands.

[0213] Haemophilus proteins were grouped into five classes according to their localisation within the cell, and the amount of protein from each class present in OMVs was measured. Differences were observed between wild type and mutants and this is suggestive of distinct mechanisms of OMV formation (see Fig.7). NT013 and NT022 mutant OMVs displayed increased amounts of lipoproteins and reduced amounts of outer membrane proteins. The amounts of individual proteins were quantified within each class. The results for the lipoprotein, periplasmic protein and outer membrane protein classes are illustrated in Fig. 8, Fig. 9 and Fig. 10 respectively.

[0214] One difference is a decrease in the quantity of the outer membrane immunodominant proteins (protein 2 and protein 5) in mutant strains (see Fig. 10 and Table below). In particular in wild type the quantity of these P2 and P5 is about 56% of total, in ΔNT013 it decreases to 31% and in ΔNT022 to 23%. P2 and P5 are very abundant and variable proteins and their presence is one of the key reasons for the lack of cross reactivity in the sera generated against haemophilus OMVs. The mutant OMVs with reduced P2 and P5 concentration may therefore be used to improve cross reactivity.
 176 WTΔTolRΔNT013ΔNT022
Total proteins (ng) 101.546 100.127 101.567 102.663
P2 40.2 17.29 13.0889 11.129
P5 16.69 25.488 18.41 12.169
Total proteins - (P2+P5) 44.62 57.34 70.06 79.36
% P2-P5 56.06 42.73 31.02 22.7
% rest of OMP 43.94 57.27 68.98 77.3


[0215] A summary of the proteomic data relating to virulence factors in the NT017 mutant is set out below:



[0216] Immunological studies were performed on OMVs from wild types and mutants to determine if the differences observed in OMVs protein patterns could influence TLRs activation by LPS or lipoprotein components. HEK293-hTLR2 and HEK293-hTLR4/CD14-MD2 cells were stimulated with different dilutions of OMVs from the wild type and knockout strains. No significant differences were detected (Figure 6C/D).

[0217] Moreover the same stimulation was extended to human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (hPBMCs) to measure proinflammatory cytokines production No significant differences were observed (Figure 6 E/F).

LytM protein knock out in Neisseria meningitidis



[0218] Three LytM proteins were identified in Neisseria meningitidis MC58 and are: NMB1483, NMB0315 and NMB1333. NMB1483 contains two LysM domains and a M23 peptidase family domain, and is the NlpD homologue found in Neisseria meningitidis group B. NMB0315 is also a lysostaphin-type zinc-dependent metallopeptidase belonging to the M23 peptidase family and is characterized by a conserved active site containing an HXH motif. NMB1333 also presents a conserved domain typical of the M23 peptidase family. The gene and protein sequences for the LytM proteins were identified in Neisseria meningitidis are set out in SEQ ID NOs: 37-42.
NMB1483 nucleic acid SEQ ID NO:37
NMB0315 nucleic acid SEQ ID NO:38
NMB1333 nucleic acid SEQ ID NO:39
NMB1483 protein SEQ ID NO:40
NMB0315 protein SEQ ID NO:41
NMB1333 protein SEQ ID NO:42


[0219] A knockout mutant was generated in strain MC58 of Neisseria meningitidis for gene NMB1483 (NlpD) and it was named: MC58Δ148. A detailed description of the generation of knock out mutants is described elsewhere [123].

[0220] Flanking regions to the coding sequence of the gene were amplified using the following sets of primers:
Up1483_Fw1 gctctagaCGTTACAGCGGCAATTATTGC XbaI SEQ ID NO: 43
Up1483_Rv tcccccgggCGCAGACAGTACAGATAGTAC SmaI SEQ ID NO: 44
Dn1483_Fw tcccccgggATGTTCCGATATATAGCCTG SmaI SEQ ID NO: 45
Dn1483_Rv2 ccgctcgaCCCCTATTTTGTGGAACATC XhoI SEQ ID NO: 46


[0221] The plasmid used for generation of the deletion mutant in MC58 was: pBS-UD1483_Ery. By chromosomal allelic exchange, the gene was substituted by an erythromycin resistance cassette.

[0222] The MC58Δ1483 strain was analysed by confocal microscopy analysis and showed the presence of multiple aggregates of variable size, with respect to the WT strain. For confocal microscopy analysis bacteria were grown in GC medium until exponential phase (OD600 0.5) and fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde, before DAPI staining (See Figure 12).

[0223] To further characterize the bacterial cell morphology TEM (transmission electron microscopy) and SEM (scanning electron microscopy) analysis was performed. For TEM analysis, bacteria were also grown in GC medium until exponential phase (OD600 0.5). TEM analysis confirmed the presence of bacterial aggregates and aberrant cell morphology was shown in MC58Δ1483, compared to the diplococcic observed in the WT strain. Moreover, the presence of vesicles was clearly visible in the mutant strain (See Figure 13A).

[0224] For SEM analysis, bacteria were also grown in GC medium until exponential phase (OD600 0.5). Also SEM analysis confirmed the presence of three-dimensional bacterial aggregates and of aberrant cell morphology in the MC58Δ1483 mutant (See Figure 13B).

[0225] The MC58Δ1483 mutant was also tested for its ability to produce OMVs. In a first experiment, strains MC58 and MC58Δ1483 were grown till stationary phase (OD600 1.3-1.5) in 50 ml MCDM I (Meningitis chemically defined medium I), in 250 ml shaker flasks incubated overnight at 37°C, 5% CO2 and 185 rpm.

[0226] For OMVs isolation, the cultures were centrifuged at 3500 rpm for 30 min at 4°C and supernatants were filtered using Stericup filter bottles (0.22 µm pore size).

[0227] Samples were then centrifuged at 35'000 rpm (96'000 x g, average) at 4°C for 2 h, then washed with PBS and centrifuged again at 35'000 rpm (96'000 x g, average) at 4°C for 2 h. After removal of supernatant, the pellet was resuspended in 200 to 500 µl PBS.

[0228] For checking the quality of the preparation and compare the amount of vesicles produced by the MC58 WT and MC58Δ1483 mutant strains, the same volume of OMVs was loaded for SDS-PAGE analysis and proteins were stained with Coomassie blue. The results showed a different protein pattern in the MC58Δ1483 mutant, compared to the WT strain. Total protein quantification by Lowry assay showed a two-fold increase in the production of OMVs from the mutant, compared to the WT strain (Fig. 14A)

[0229] In a second experiment, strains MC58 and MC58Δ1483 were grown till exponential phase (OD600 0.5) in 40 ml GC medium, in 250 ml shaker flasks incubated at 37°C, 5% CO2 and 185 rpm. For OMVs isolation, the same protocol was followed.

[0230] The results from SDS-PAGE analysis showed OMV proteins only from the MC58Δ1483 mutant. No proteins were detected when the same volume of OMVs from the WT strain was loaded. Also quantification by Lowry assay confirmed the absence of OMVs in the preparation from the WT strain (Fig. 14B).

[0231] Other OMV preparations are made and a mass-spectrometry proteomic analysis of the sample is performed at exponential and stationary growth phases. The presence of the main 4CMenB vaccine antigens is evaluated and compared.

LvtM protein knock out in Bordetella pertussis



[0232] Six putative peptidases were identified in Bordetella pertussis Tohama I: BP1721, BP2956, BP0608, BP2919, BP3015 and BP1017. BP1721 and BP2919 have both a Lys-M domain (involved in binding to peptidoglygan) and a Lyt-M domain (Lysostaphin-type metallopeptidases) like NlpD from E. coli and NT022 from NTHi, the other four proteins have only the Lyt-M domain. The locus organization does not help to discriminate the different homologues, with the exception of BP1721 which can be clearly identified as the NlpD homologue in B.pertussis. Multiple alignments showed a high conservation of the peptidase catalytic site between BP2956 and NT013, and between BP0608 and NT017. Gene and protein sequences are shown in SEQ ID NO:s 47-58. BP1721 is a NlpD homologue. BP2956 is a putative NT013/YebA homologue. BP0608 is a putative NT017/EnvC homologue.
 Nucleic acid sequenceProtein sequence
BP1721 SEQ ID NO:47 SEQ ID NO:53
BP2956 SEQ ID NO:48 SEQ ID NO:54
BP0608 SEQ ID NO:49 SEQ ID NO:55
BP2919 SEQ ID NO:50 SEQ ID NO:56
BP3015 SEQ ID NO:51 SEQ ID NO:57
BP1017 SEQ ID NO:52 SEQ ID NO:58


[0233] A knockout mutant was generated in strain W28 9K-129G of Bordetella pertussis for gene BP1721 (NlpD homologue). Flanking regions to the coding sequence of the gene were amplified using the following sets of primers:
BP1721 5' For ccgGAATTCGCGGTTGCGCGCGCAGGGCAT SEQ ID NO:59
BP1721 5' Rev ggaGGATCCACGATTCTCCTGTTTGCTCAA SEQ ID NO:60
BP1721 3' For ggaGGATCCCGCCCACGCTCGTTTTCGACC SEQ ID NO:61
BP1721 3' Rev cccAAGCTTCCACGTCGGTCTCGCAGTACG SEQ ID NO:62


[0234] Deletion of the gene BP1721 was obtained as follows:
A kanamycin resistance cassette was cloned between the BP1721 flanking regions into the suicide vector pSORTP1. The pSORTP1-BP1721KO construct was introduced into B. pertussis by conjugation. Integration of the plasmid into the chromosome following the first crossing-over event was selected for gentamicin resistance (present on the plasmid backbone) and kanamycin resistance (present in the plasmid insert). Loss of the plasmid following the second crossing-over event and replacement of the BP1721 gene with the kanamycin cassette was selected for streptomycin resistance (the plasmid confers sensitivity to streptomycin) and kanamycin resistance. The replacement of the BP1721 gene with the kanamycin cassette was confirmed by PCR amplification using primers external to the flanking regions of BP1721 and using B. pertussis W29 9K/129G as a control. The expected sizes of the amplification products were 2189 bp for the WT strain and 2574 bp for the KO strain. The primers used were: BP1721 EXT 5' FOR: AACCTGGGCTTGAACTCC (SEQ ID NO:63); BP1721 EXT 3' REV: ACACCAGCCAGGTATTGA (SEQ ID NO:64).

[0235] Cell aggregates, which could be due to altered cell division mechanisms, were already visible from the culture when the bacterium was grown in liquid medium. Cell division defects were then subsequently confirmed by confocal microscopy analysis. For the microscopy analysis 50 µl of a liquid culture were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde and stained with DAPI to visualize DNA. The KO strain clearly exhibited a severe cell chaining phenotype, compared to the WT strain. (See Figure 15).

[0236] Strains Bp W28 9G/129K and Bp W28 9G/129K ΔNlpD were grown until exponential phase (OD600 4.3-4.8) in 40 ml of Stainer-Scholte broth (supplemented with 400 µg/ml streptomycin) in 250 ml shaker flasks and incubated at 35°C and 180 rpm.

[0237] For OMV isolation, the cultures were centrifuged at 5000 x g for 45 min at 4°C and supernatants were filtered using Stericup filter bottles (0.22 µm pore size). Samples were then centrifuged at 96000 x g at 4°C for 2 h, then washed with PBS and centrifuged again at 96000 x g at 4°C for 2 h. After removal of supernatant, the pellet was resuspended in 200 µl PBS.

[0238] To check the quality of the preparation and compare the amount of vesicles produced by the Bp W28 9G/129K and Bp W28 9G/129K ΔNlpD strains, the same volume of OMVs (10 µl) was loaded for SDS-PAGE analysis and proteins were stained withSimplyBlue™ SafeStain (Life Technologies). The results showed a different protein pattern in the mutant, compared to the WT strain (see Figure 19).

[0239] A knockout mutant is generated in strain W28 9K-129G of Bordetella pertussis for gene BP2956 (putative NT013/YebA homologue). Flanking regions to the coding sequence of the gene (bold) are amplified using the following sets of primers:
BP2956 5' For ccgGAATTCATCAAGAAGCTGGGACGT SEQ ID NO:65
BP2956 5' Rev ggaGGATCCAACTTTGCGTTTGAAGCT SEQ ID NO:66
BP2956 3' For ggaGGATCCCAAGCAGCAGATCAAGCT SEQ ID NO:67
BP2956 3' Rev cccAAGCTTGTCGGCGTCGTAAGGCTG SEQ ID NO:68


[0240] Deletion of the gene BP2956 is obtained as follows. A cloramphenicol resistance cassette is cloned between the BP2956 flanking regions into the suicide vector pSORTP1. The pSORTP1-BP2956KO construct is introduced into B. pertussis by conjugation. Integration of the plasmid into the chromosome following the first crossing-over event is selected for gentamicin resistance (present on the plasmid backbone) and cloramphenicol resistance (present in the plasmid insert). Loss of the plasmid following the second crossing-over event and replacement of the BP2956 gene with the kanamycin cassette is selected for streptomycin resistance (the plasmid confers sensitivity to streptomycin) and cloramphenicol resistance.

[0241] These deletion mutant strains are analyzed for their cell morphology, OMVs production and proteomic characterization. In particular, the presence of B. pertussis most immunogenic antigens (PT, FHA and 69K) is evaluated. Finally, these mutants are analyzed in vitro for their function in B. pertussis physiology and/or pathogenesis and the OMVs produced are tested in immunogenicity and cross-reactivity studies.

[0242] Knock-out mutants for the other putative LytM protein homologues: flanking regions to the coding sequence of the gene (bold) are amplified using the following sets of primers:
BP0608 5' For ccgGAATTCTGGAAAACCGTTTCACGG SEQ ID NO:69
BP0608 5' Rev ggaGGATCCGAATCAGTCCTTTTTCGC SEQ ID NO:70
BP0608 3' For ggaGGATCCATAAATATCGGGAAGTGT SEQ ID NO:71
BP0608 3' Rev cccAAGCTTCCGAGTTCCTTCAGATGG SEQ ID NO:72
BP2919 5' For ccgGAATTCCATGATGCCGACTTGCAT SEQ ID NO:73
BP2919 5' Rev ggaGGATCCTGAAAGAGGCAGCAAAAC SEQ ID NO:74
BP2919 3' For ggaGGATCCCCGGCGAAACAGCACGTA SEQ ID NO:75
BP2919 3' Rev cccAAGCTTAGTTCGAAGCTGGCATTG SEQ ID NO:76
BP3015 5' For ccgGAATTCTTGCCGATATCGGTTTTC SEQ ID NO:77
BP3015 5' Rev ggaGGATCCTTGCATCCTGTTATTTGA SEQ ID NO:78
BP3015 3' For ggaGGATCCGTTAAACTGGATCGTTTC SEQ ID NO:79
BP3015 3' Rev cccAAGCTTTCGAAGCCGAATTCGTTA SEQ ID NO:80
BP1017 5' For ccgGAATTCAGCAGATGCGCCAGATCA SEQ ID NO:81
BP1017 5' Rev ggaGGATCCTTGCGTCGGTCTTGCCCT SEQ ID NO:82
BP1017 3' For ggaGGATCCTTCGGCGTATTGCAGTTC SEQ ID NO:83
BP1017 3' Rev cccAAGCTTTGAGTACCTGCCTATCGT SEQ ID NO:84

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SEQUENCE LISTING



[0243] 

<110> Novartis AG

<120> MUTANT BACTERIA FOR PRODUCTION OF GENERALIZED MODULES FOR MEMBRANE ANTIGENS

<130> PAT056149-WO-PCT

<141> 2014-04-24

<160> 87

<170> SeqWin2010, version 1.0

<210> 1
<211> 475
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 1



<210> 2
<211> 97
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 2



<210> 3
<211> 410
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 3



<210> 4
<211> 96
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 4

<210> 5
<211> 405
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 5



<210> 6
<211> 96
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 6

<210> 7
<211> 440
<212> PRT
<213> Escherichia coli

<400> 7





<210> 8
<211> 95
<212> PRT
<213> Escherichia coli

<400> 8

<210> 9
<211> 419
<212> PRT
<213> Escherichia coli

<400> 9



<210> 10
<211> 96
<212> PRT
<213> Escherichia coli

<400> 10



<210> 11
<211> 379
<212> PRT
<213> Escherichia coli

<400> 11



<210> 12
<211> 96
<212> PRT
<213> Escherichia coli

<400> 12

<210> 13
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM domain

<220>
<221> misc_feature
<222> 2, 3, 4
<223> 'Xaa' is any amino acid

<400> 13

<210> 14
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM domain

<400> 14

<210> 15
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM domain

<400> 15

<210> 16
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM domain

<400> 16

<210> 17
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM motif

<400> 17

<210> 18
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM motif

<400> 18



<210> 19
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM motif

<400> 19

<210> 20
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM motif

<400> 20

<210> 21
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM motif

<400> 21

<210> 22
<211> 5
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> LytM motif

<400> 22

<210> 23
<211> 26
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> immunostimulatory oligodeoxynucleotide

<220>
<221> modified_base
<222> 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25
<223> 'n' is 'i' (Inosine)

<400> 23
ncncncncnc ncncncncnc ncncnc 26

<210> 24
<211> 11
<212> PRT
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> antimicrobial peptide

<400> 24

<210> 25
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 25
ttgcacgcgc caataatacc 20

<210> 26
<211> 29
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 26
tgcatgcatt tacgtgttgc actggcatc 29

<210> 27
<211> 29
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 27
tgcatgcatt gttcgtgttc gtgaagcag 29

<210> 28
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 28
aacgcgattg cgtaatgcag 20

<210> 29
<211> 21
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 29
tgctggtgca atttgatctt c 21

<210> 30
<211> 30
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 30
tgcatgcatt gattaacgcc aaaacgcaac 30

<210> 31
<211> 29
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 31
tgcatgcata ttagccgtaa aggaacgcc 29

<210> 32
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 32
tggcgatcta atgaacgcac 20

<210> 33
<211> 21
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 33
aaacattgtg caacaatggg g 21

<210> 34
<211> 30
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 34
tgcatgcata caagactcaa agggagtaag 30

<210> 35
<211> 29
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 35
tgcatgcatg gatccagtac gttacctac 29

<210> 36
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 36
gtttctttgt ccgcaggttc 20

<210> 37
<211> 1248
<212> DNA
<213> Neisseria meningitidis

<400> 37

<210> 38
<211> 1293
<212> DNA
<213> Neisseria meningitidis

<400> 38



<210> 39
<211> 1791
<212> DNA
<213> Neisseria meningitidis

<400> 39

<210> 40
<211> 415
<212> PRT
<213> Neisseria meningitidis

<400> 40





<210> 41
<211> 430
<212> PRT
<213> Neisseria meningitidis

<400> 41



<210> 42
<211> 297
<212> PRT
<213> Neisseria meningitidis

<400> 42



<210> 43
<211> 29
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 43
gctctagacg ttacagcggc aattattgc 29

<210> 44
<211> 30
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 44
tcccccgggc gcagacagta cagatagtac 30

<210> 45
<211> 29
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 45
tcccccggga tgttccgata tatagcctg 29

<210> 46
<211> 28
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 46
ccgctcgacc cctattttgt ggaacatc 28

<210> 47
<211> 885
<212> DNA
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 47

<210> 48
<211> 1416
<212> DNA
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 48



<210> 49
<211> 1566
<212> DNA
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 49

<210> 50
<211> 744
<212> DNA
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 50

<210> 51
<211> 930
<212> DNA
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 51

<210> 52
<211> 861
<212> DNA
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 52

<210> 53
<211> 294
<212> PRT
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 53



<210> 54
<211> 471
<212> PRT
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 54





<210> 55
<211> 521
<212> PRT
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 55



<210> 56
<211> 247
<212> PRT
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 56



<210> 57
<211> 309
<212> PRT
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 57



<210> 58
<211> 286
<212> PRT
<213> Bordetella pertussis

<400> 58



<210> 59
<211> 30
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 59
ccggaattcg cggttgcgcg cgcagggcat 30

<210> 60
<211> 30
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 60
ggaggatcca cgattctcct gtttgctcaa 30

<210> 61
<211> 30
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 61
ggaggatccc gcccacgctc gttttcgacc 30

<210> 62
<211> 30
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 62
cccaagcttc cacgtcggtc tcgcagtacg 30

<210> 63
<211> 18
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 63
aacctgggct tgaactcc 18

<210> 64
<211> 18
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 64
acaccagcca ggtattga 18

<210> 65
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 65
ccggaattca tcaagaagct gggacgt 27

<210> 66
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 66
ggaggatcca actttgcgtt tgaagct 27

<210> 67
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 67
ggaggatccc aagcagcaga tcaagct 27

<210> 68
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 68
cccaagcttg tcggcgtcgt aaggctg 27

<210> 69
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 69
ccggaattct ggaaaaccgt ttcacgg 27

<210> 70
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 70
ggaggatccg aatcagtcct ttttcgc 27

<210> 71
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 71
ggaggatcca taaatatcgg gaagtgt 27

<210> 72
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 72
cccaagcttc cgagttcctt cagatgg 27

<210> 73
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 73
ccggaattcc atgatgccga cttgcat 27

<210> 74
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 74
ggaggatcct gaaagaggca gcaaaac 27

<210> 75
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 75
ggaggatccc cggcgaaaca gcacgta 27

<210> 76
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 76
cccaagctta gttcgaagct ggcattg 27

<210> 77
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 77
ccggaattct tgccgatatc ggttttc 27

<210> 78
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 78
ggaggatcct tgcatcctgt tatttga 27

<210> 79
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 79
ggaggatccg ttaaactgga tcgtttc 27

<210> 80
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 80
cccaagcttt cgaagccgaa ttcgtta 27

<210> 81
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 81
ccggaattca gcagatgcgc cagatca 27

<210> 82
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 82
ggaggatcct tgcgtcggtc ttgccct 27

<210> 83
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 83
ggaggatcct tcggcgtatt gcagttc 27

<210> 84
<211> 27
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Primer

<400> 84
cccaagcttt gagtacctgc ctatcgt 27

<210> 85
<211> 433
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 85



<210> 86
<211> 390
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 86



<210> 87
<211> 387
<212> PRT
<213> Haemophilus influenzae

<400> 87






Claims

1. A method for preparing vesicles from a Gram-negative bacterium in which at least one LytM catalytic domain-containing protein is inactivated comprising a step of obtaining vesicles from a culture of the bacterium, wherein:

(a) the at least one LytM catalytic domain containing protein is inactivated by a knockout mutation in the coding region of the gene or its promoter that:

(i) reduces the level of mRNA encoding the protein to 0% of that produced by the wild-type bacterium; or

(ii) inhibits translation of the mRNA encoding the protein to 0% of that produced by the wild-type bacterium.


 
2. The method according to claim 1 wherein the at least one LytM catalytic domain-containing protein is selected from any one of NT013, NT022 and NT017 of NTHi, wherein:

NT013 has an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID NO: 1 or shares sequence identity of 95% with SEQ ID NO: 1,

NT022 has an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID NO: 5 or shares sequence identity of 95% with SEQ ID NO: 5, and

NT017 has an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID NO: 3 or shares sequence identity of 95% with SEQ ID NO: 3.


 
3. The method according to claim 1 or 2 wherein the Gram-negative bacterium is selected from non-typeable H. influenzae, N. meningitidis and B. pertussis.
 
4. The method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the vesicles do not comprise any living and/or whole bacteria.
 
5. The method according to any one of the preceding claims comprising the further step of admixing vesicles with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier.
 


Ansprüche

1. Verfahren zum Herstellen von Vesikeln aus einem Gramnegativen Bakterium, worin wenigstens ein eine katalytische LytM-Domäne enthaltendes Protein inaktiviert ist, umfassend einen Schritt des Erhaltens von Vesikeln aus einer Kultur des Bakteriums, wobei:

(a) das wenigstens eine eine katalytische LytM-Domäne enthaltende Protein durch eine Knockout-Mutation in der codierenden Region des Gens oder seines Promotors inaktiviert wird, die:

(i) das Level der das Protein codierenden mRNA auf 0% des durch das Wildtyp-Bakterium produzierten reduziert; oder

(ii) die Translation der das Protein codierenden mRNA zu 0% der durch das Wildtyp-Bakterium produzierten inhibiert.


 
2. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei das die wenigstens eine katalytische LytM-Domäne enthaltende Protein aus irgendeinem von NT013, NT022 und NT017 von NTHi ausgewählt ist, wobei:

NT013 eine Aminosäuresequenz gemäß SEQ ID NO: 1 hat oder eine Sequenzidentität von 95% mit SEQ ID NO: 1 gemeinsam hat,

NT022 eine Aminosäuresequenz gemäß SEQ ID NO: 5 hat oder eine Sequenzidentität von 95% mit SEQ ID NO: 5 gemeinsam hat, und

NT017 eine Aminosäuresequenz gemäß SEQ ID NO: 3 hat oder eine Sequenzidentität von 95% mit SEQ ID NO: 3 gemeinsam hat.


 
3. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2, wobei das Gram-negative Bakterium ausgewählt ist aus nichttypisierbarem H. influenzae, N. meningitidis und B. pertussis.
 
4. Verfahren gemäß irgendeinem der vorangegangenen Ansprüche, wobei die Vesikel keinerlei lebende und/oder ganze Bakterien umfassen.
 
5. Verfahren gemäß irgendeinem der vorangegangenen Ansprüche, welches den weiteren Schritt des Vermischens von Vesikeln mit einem pharmazeutisch akzeptablen Träger umfasst.
 


Revendications

1. Procédé de préparation de vésicules à partir d'une bactérie à Gram négatif dans lequel au moins une protéine contenant le domaine catalytique LytM est inactivée comprenant une étape d'obtention de vésicules à partir d'une culture de la bactérie, dans lequel :

(a) la au moins une protéine contenant le domaine catalytique LytM est inactivée par une mutation à invalidation génique dans la région codante du gène ou de son promoteur qui :

(i) réduit le niveau d'ARNm codant pour la protéine à 0 % de celui produit par la bactérie de type sauvage ; ou

(ii) inhibe la traduction de l'ARNm codant pour la protéine à 0 % de celle produite par la bactérie de type sauvage.


 
2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la au moins une protéine contenant le domaine catalytique LytM est choisie parmi l'une quelconque de NT013, NT022 et NT017 de NTHi, dans lequel :

NT013 a une séquence d'acides aminés selon la SEQ ID NO : 1 ou partage une identité de séquence de 95 % avec la SEQ ID NO : 1,

NT022 a une séquence d'acides aminés selon la SEQ ID NO : 5 ou partage une identité de séquence de 95 % avec la SEQ ID NO : 5, et

NT017 a une séquence d'acides aminés selon la SEQ ID NO : 3 ou partage une identité de séquence de 95 % avec la SEQ ID NO : 3.


 
3. Procédé selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel la bactérie à Gram négatif est choisie parmi H. influenzae, N. meningitidis et B. pertussis non typables.
 
4. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel les vésicules ne comprennent pas de bactéries vivantes et/ou entières.
 
5. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant l'étape supplémentaire de mélange de vésicules avec un support pharmaceutiquement acceptable.
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description




Non-patent literature cited in the description