Analysis of the immunological and functional features of the Neisserial Heparin Binding Antigen (NHBA)

Vacca, Irene (2014) Analysis of the immunological and functional features of the Neisserial Heparin Binding Antigen (NHBA), [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia cellulare e molecolare, 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6490.
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Neisserial Heparin Binding Antigen (NHBA) is a surface-exposed lipoprotein ubiquitously expressed by genetically diverse Neisseria meningitidis strains and is an antigen of the multicomponent protein-based 4CMenB vaccine, able to induce bactericidal antibodies in humans and to bind heparin-like molecules. The aim of this study is to characterize the immunological and functional properties of NHBA. To evaluate immunogenicity and the contribution of aminoacid sequence variability to vaccine coverage, we constructed recombinant isogenic strains that are susceptible to bactericidal killing only by anti-NHBA antibodies and engineered them to express equal levels of selected NHBA peptides. In these recombinant strains, we observed different titres associated with the different peptide variants. These recombinant strains were then further engineered to express NHBA chimeric proteins to investigate the regions important for immunogenicity. In natural strains, anti-NHBA antibodies were found to be cross-protective against strains expressing different peptides. To investigate the functional properties of this antigen, the recombinant purified NHBA protein was tested in in vitro binding studies and was found to be able to bind epithelial cells. The binding was abolished when cells were treated specifically with heparinase III, suggesting that the interaction with the cells is mediated by heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG). Mutation of the Arg-rich tract of NHBA abrogated the binding, confirming the importance of this region in mediating the binding to heparin-like molecules. In a panel of N. meningitidis strains, the deletion of nhba resulted in a reduction of adhesion with respect to each isogenic wild type strain. Furthermore, the adhesion of the wild-type strain was prevented by using anti-NHBA polyclonal sera, demonstrating the specificity of the interaction. These results suggest that NHBA could be a novel meningococcal adhesin contributing to host-cell interaction. Moreover, we analysed NHBA NalP-mediated cleavage in different NHBA peptides and showed that not all NHBA peptides are cleaved.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Vacca, Irene
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze biologiche, biomediche e biotecnologiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
neisserial heparin binding antigen, neisseria meningitidis, vaccine, 4CmenB, NalP
Data di discussione
11 Aprile 2014

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