Recognition of pneumococcal isolates by antisera raised against PspA fragments from different clades

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Pneumococcal surface protein A (PspA) is an important vaccine candidate against pneumococcal infections, capable of inducing protection in different animal models. Based on its structural diversity, it has been suggested that a PspA-based vaccine should contain at least one fragment from each of the two major families (family 1, comprising clades 1 and 2, and family 2, comprising clades 3, 4 and 5) in order to elicit broad protection. This study analysed the recognition of a panel of 35 pneumococcal isolates bearing different PspAs by antisera raised against the N-terminal regions of PspA clades 1 to 5. The antiserum to PspA clade 4 was found to show the broadest cross-reactivity, being able to recognize pneumococcal strains containing PspAs of all clades in both families. The cross-reactivity of antibodies elicited against a PspA hybrid including the N-terminal region of clade 1 fused to a shorter and more divergent fragment (clade-defining region, or CDR) of clade 4 (PspA1–4) was also tested, and revealed a strong recognition of isolates containing clades 1, 4 and 5, and weaker reactions with clades 2 and 3. The analysis of serum reactivity against different PspA regions further revealed that the complete N-terminal region rather than just the CDR should be included in an anti-pneumococcal vaccine. A PspA-based vaccine is thus proposed to be composed of the whole N-terminal region of clades 1 and 4, which could also be expressed as a hybrid protein.

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