Drug – bio-affecting and body treating compositions – Antigen – epitope – or other immunospecific immunoeffector
C424S184100, C424S234100, C424S262100, C435S069100, C435S069300, C530S350000
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to nucleic acid fragments encoding antigenic proteins associated with
sensu lato (
denoted Bb herein), particularly polypeptides associated with virulence of the bacteria. The invention also relates to methods for producing Bb immunogenic polypeptides and corresponding antibodies. Other embodiments of the invention relates to compositions and methods for detecting Lyme disease and also vaccines against infections with
sensu lato are a part of the invention as is methods of immunizing animals against diseases caused by these infections. Vectors and transformed cells comprising Bb associated nucleic acids are also included.
DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART
Lyme disease is a multisystem disease resulting from tick transmission of the infectious agent, Bb (Rahn and Malawista, 1991). Although recognized as a clinical entity within the last few decades data back to the early part of the 20th century. Cases of the disease have been reported in Europe, Asia and North America (Schmid, 1985). Despite a relatively low total incidence compared to other infectious diseases, Lyme disease represents a significant health problem because of its potentially severe cardiovascular, neurologic and arthritic complications, difficulty in diagnosis and treatment and high prevalence in some geographic regions.
Bb is not a homogenous group but has a variable genetic content, which may in turn affect its virulence, pattern of pathogenesis and immunogenicity. Lyme borreliosis associated borreliae are so far taxonomically placed into three species,
(Burgdorfer et al. 1983, Baranton et al. 1992, Canica et al. 1993). It is well documented that considerable genetic, antigenic and immunogenic heterogeneity occurs among them, as well as among the strains within the separate species (Baranton et al. 1992, Canica et al. 1993, Zingg et al. 1993, Wilske et al. 1993, Adam et al. 1991, Marconi and Garon 1992). The major evidence of this phenomenon is provided by the molecular studies of the plasmid encoded outer surface protein A (OspA), B (OspB), and C (OspC) (Barbour et al. 1984, Jonsson et al. 1992, Wilske et al. 1993, Marconi et al. 1993). In different animal models efficient protection is achieved by passive and active immunization with OspA (Simon et al., 1991 Fikrig et al., 1992, Erdile et al., 1993), therefore, OspA remains one of the main candidates for Borrelia vaccine. It is unclear, however, whether inter and intra-species heterogeneity of OspA, as well as other competitors for immunoprophylaxis, allow efficient cross-protection (Fikrig et al. 1992, Norris et al., 1992). Furthermore, it was recently suggested that certain protective antibodies produced early in the course of Borrelia infection is unrelated to OspA (Norton Hughes et at., 1993, Barthold and Bockenstedt, 1993).
Its virulence factors, pathogenetic mechanisms and means of immune evasion are unknown. At the level of patient care, diagnosis of the disease is complicated by its varied clinical presentation and the lack of practical, standardized diagnostic tests of high sensitivity and specificity. Antimicrobial therapy is not always effective, particularly in the later stages of the disease.
Variation among Bb strains and species and the changes resulting from in vitro passage add to the problems of developing vaccines or immunodiagnostics from either the whole organism or specifically associated proteins. Using a PCR assay, it was found that one set of oligonucleotide primers was specific for North American Bb isolates, another for most European isolates and a third set recognized all Bb strains (Rosa et al., 1989).
Serological assays for the diagnosis and detection of Lyme disease are thought to offer the most promise for sensitive and specific diagnosis. However, serologic assays generally use whole Bb as antigen and suffer from a low “signal to noise” ratio, i.e, a low degree of reactivity in positive samples, particularly early in the disease, as compared to negative samples. This problem results in high numbers of false negatives and the potential for false positives. Background reactivity in negative controls may be due in part to conserved antigens such as the 41K flagellin and the 60K “Common Antigen”. These Bb proteins possess a high degree of sequence homology with similar proteins found in other bacterial. Therefore normal individuals will often express anti-flagellar and anti-60K antibodies. Unique, highly reactive Bb antigens for serological assays are therefore desirable but heretofore unavailable.
Diagnosis of Lyme disease remains a complex and uncertain endeavour, due to lack of any single diagnostic tool that is both sensitive and specific. Clinical manifestations and history are the most common bases for diagnosis. However, there is a pressing need for specific, sensitive, reproducible and readily available confirmatory tests. Direct detection offers proof of infection but is hampered by the extremely low levels of Bb that are typically present during infection, as well as the inacessibility of sites that tend to be consistently positive (e.g., heart and bladder). Culture, although sensitive, is cumbersome and requires 1-3 weeks to obtain a positive result. PCR appears to offer promise in terms of direct detection (Lebech et al., 1991) and indeed Goodman et al (1991) have reported detection of Bb DNA in the urine of patients with active Lyme disease using a PCR method. However, it is unlikely that PCR assays will become commonly used in clinical laboratories because of the degree of skill required for its use and the high risk of DNA contamination.
Another problem in detection of Lyme disease is the substantial number of humans exposed to Bb who develop unapparent or asymptomatic infections. This number has been estimated as high as 50% (Steere et al., 1986).
There is clearly a need for means of preparing Bb-specific antigens, e.g., for the development of diagnostic tests for Lyme disease or vaccines against Lyme disease. Adequate assays do not exist and should ideally meet several criteria, including (1) expression of an antigen by all pathogenic Bb strains, (2) elicitation of an immune response in all Lyme disease patients, (3) high immunogenicity with a detectable antibody response early in the infection stage, (4) antigens unique to Bb without cross reactivity to other antigens and, (5) distinction between individuals exposed to nonpathogenic as opposed to pathogenic forms of Bb.
Problems similar to those relating to diagnosis exist when attempting to prepare a vaccine against diseases caused by Bb. Successful single antigen vaccines have until now not been prepared, possibly due to the inter-strain and inter-species antigenic variation. As mentioned above, OspA has been the main candidate for the immunogenic constituent of a single antigen vaccine, but time has proven that in order for such a vaccine to be efficient it has to contain OspA from at least three different Bb species (
A number of investigators have reported the presence of proteins with molecular weights in the region between 60 and 75 kDa. Many of these proteins are also recognised by antibodies in patient sera when analyzed by Western blots. (Barbour 1984, Luft et al., 1989). Protease treatment of
cells (Barbour et al. 1984) showed that a minor protein with a apparent molecular weight of 66 kDa was accessible to proteolytic cleavage, and hence probably associated with the outer envelope. Coleman and Benach (1987) isolated a protein with apparent molecular weight of 66 kDa from an outer envelope fraction isolated from
B31. However, direct amino acid sequencing of Bb proteins with the apparent molecular weights 66-, 68-, 71-, and 73-kDa revealed these proteins to have high sequence
Barbour Alan George
Frommer William S.
Frommer & Lawrence & Haug LLP
Kowalski Thomas J.
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