Human Vaccines And Immunotherapeutics
A DNA vaccination approach was used in the current study to screen for the immunogenicity of different fragments of toxin A and toxin B from Clostridium difficile. With this approach, protein antigens do not need to be produced in vitro and the immunogenicity of candidate C. difficile antigens can be identified directly in animals. Codon optimized toxin gene fragments were individually cloned into the DNA vaccine vector and tested in mice and rabbits for their ability to elicit C. difficile toxin-specific antibody responses. Only a subset of the C. difficile toxin fragments, including the C-terminal receptor binding domain of toxin A and a novel N-terminal enzymatic domain of toxin B, were able to elicit protective antibody responses as determined by protection of target cells in a cytotoxicity assay or by preventing death of mice in a passive antibody protection study. Significantly, antibodies elicited by the novel N-terminus of the toxin B DNA vaccine were able to increase the level of protection when used in combination with anti-toxin A antibodies in a toxin challenge model in mice.