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Expression of the protective antigen of bacillus anthracis by lactobacillus casei: Towards the development of an oral vaccine against anthrax

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Author: Zegers, N.D. · Kluter, E. · Stap, H. van der · Dura, E. van · Dalen, P. van · Shaw, M. · Baillie, L.
Institution: TNO Preventie en Gezondheid
Source:Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2, 87, 309-314
Identifier: 235166
doi: doi:10.1046/j.1365-2672.1999.00900.x
Keywords: Administration, Oral · Anthrax · Antigens, Bacterial · Bacillus anthracis · Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial · Genetic Vectors · Humans · Lactobacillus casei · Vaccination · Vaccines · Anthrax · Bacillus anthracis · Bacteria (microorganisms) · Lactobacillus · Lactobacillus casei · Posibacteria


Bacillus anthracis is the causative organism of the disease anthrax. The ability of the organism to form resistant spores and infect via the aerosol route has led to it being considered as a potential biological warfare agent. The current available human vaccines are far from ideal, they are expensive to produce, require repeated doses and may invoke transient side-effects in some individuals. There is also evidence to suggest that they may not give full protection against all strains of B. anthracis. A new generation of anthrax vaccine is therefore needed. The use of Lactobacillus as a vector for expression of heterologous proteins from pathogens supplies us with a safe system, which can be given orally. Lactobacilli are commensals of the gut, generally regarded as safe and have intrinsic adjuvanticity. Oral vaccines may stimulate the mucosol immune system to produce local IgA responses in addition to systemic responses. These vectors are delivered at the mucosal surface, the site where the infection actually occurs and where the first line of defence lies. The gene encoding the protective antigen (PA) of B. anthracis, an immunogenic non- toxic component of the two toxins produced, is being cloned into different homologous vectors and subsequently transformed to various Lactobacillus strains. High intracellular expression levels for the PA in Lact. casei were achieved. Mucosal antigen presentation and humoral and cellular immune responses following immunization with transformants expressing PA in various ways (intracellular, surface-anchored and extracellular) are being studied.