Lactobacillus buchneriS-layer as carrier for an Ara h 2-derived peptide for peanut allergen-specific immunotherapy
Peanut allergy is an IgE-mediated severe hypersensitivity disorder. The lack of a treatment of this potentially fatal allergy has led to intensive research on vaccine development. Here, we describe the design and initial characterization of a carrier-bound peptide derived from the most potent peanut allergen, Ara h 2, as a candidate vaccine. Based on the adjuvant capability of bacterial surface (S-) layers, a fusion protein of the S-layer protein SlpB from Lactobacillus buchneri CD034 and the Ara h 2-derived peptide AH3a42 was produced. This peptide comprised immunodominant B-cell epitopes as well as one T cell epitope. The fusion protein SlpB-AH3a42 was expressed in E. coli, purified, and tested for its IgE binding capacity as well as for its ability to activate sensitized rat basophil leukemia (RBL) cells. The capacity of Ara h 2-specific IgG rabbit-antibodies raised against SlpB-AH3a42 or Ara h 2 to inhibit IgE-binding was determined by ELISA inhibition assays using sera of peanut allergic patients sensitized to Ara h 2. IgE specific to the SlpB-AH3a42 fusion protein was detected in 69% (25 of 36) of the sera. Despite the recognition by IgE, the SlpB-AH3a42 fusion protein was unable to induce β-hexosaminidase release from sensitized RBL cells at concentrations up to 100 ng per ml. The inhibition of IgE-binding to the natural allergen observed after pre-incubation of the 20 sera with rabbit anti-SlpB-AH3a42 IgG was more than 30% for four sera, more than 20% for eight sera, and below 10% for eight sera. In comparison, anti-Ara h 2 rabbit IgG antibodies inhibited binding to Ara h 2 by 48% ±13.5%. Our data provide evidence for the feasibility of this novel approach towards the development of a peanut allergen peptide-based carrier-bound vaccine. Our experiments further indicate that more than one allergen-peptide will be needed to induce a broader protection of patients allergic to Ara h 2.