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Identification, recombinant expression, immuno localization in macrophages, and T-cell responsiveness of the major extracellular proteins of Francisella tularensis


A safer and more effective vaccine than the previously developed live attenuated vaccine is needed for combating Francisella tularensis, a highly infectious bacterial pathogen. To search for potential candidates for inclusion in a new vaccine, we characterized the proteins present in the culture filtrates of a virulent recent clinical isolate and the attenuated live vaccine strain of F. tularensis using a proteomic approach. We identified a total of 12 proteins; among these, catalase-peroxidase was much more abundant in the culture filtrate of the virulent clinical isolate, whereas bacterioferritin was more abundant in the culture filtrate of the live vaccine strain. Streptolysin 0 treatment of infected human macrophages indicated that catalase-peroxidase and the heat shock protein GroEL are released intracellullarly by actively growing F. tularensis. Mice immunized with F. tularensis developed significant cell-mediated immune responses to catalase-peroxidase, the heat shock protein GroEL, and bacterioferritin as measured by splenic lymphocyte proliferation and gamma interferon production. Finally, we expressed the major culture filtrate proteins that are promising vaccine candidates in Escherichia coli at high levels in soluble form to facilitate study of their immunobiology and potential role in vaccines.

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