The Network aims to promote multi-disciplinary approaches to address challenging vaccine-related questions. This page contains a curated list of publications that highlight high-impact and collaborative approaches.

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  • Journal article
    Boelen LP, O'Neill PK, Quigley KJ, Reynolds CJ, Maillere B, Robinson JH, Lertmemongkolchai G, Altmann D, Boyton R, Asquith Ret al., 2016,

    BIITE: A Tool to Determine HLA Class II Epitopes from T Cell ELISpot Data

    , PLOS Computational Biology, Vol: 12, ISSN: 1553-734X

    Activation of CD4+ T cells requires the recognition of peptides that are presented by HLA class II molecules and can be assessed experimentally using the ELISpot assay. However, even given an individual’s HLA class II genotype, identifying which class II molecule is responsible for a positive ELISpot response to a given peptide is not trivial. The two main difficulties are the number of HLA class II molecules that can potentially be formed in a single individual (3–14) and the lack of clear peptide binding motifs for class II molecules. Here, we present a Bayesian framework to interpret ELISpot data (BIITE: Bayesian Immunogenicity Inference Tool for ELISpot); specifically BIITE identifies which HLA-II:peptide combination(s) are immunogenic based on cohort ELISpot data. We apply BIITE to two ELISpot datasets and explore the expected performance using simulations. We show this method can reach high accuracies, depending on the cohort size and the success rate of the ELISpot assay within the cohort.

  • Journal article
    Reglinski M, Lynskey NN, Choi YJ, Sriskandan S, Edwards RJet al., 2016,

    Development of a multicomponent vaccine for Streptococcus pyogenes based on the antigenic targets of IVIG

    , Journal of Infection, Vol: 72, Pages: 450-459, ISSN: 1532-2742

    ObjectivesDespite over a century of research and the careful scrutiny of many promising targets, there is currently no vaccine available for the prevention of Streptococcus pyogenes infection. Through analysis of the protective, anti-streptococcal components of pooled human immunoglobulin, we previously identified ten highly conserved and invariant S. pyogenes antigens that contribute to anti-streptococcal immunity in the adult population. We sought to emulate population immunity to S. pyogenes through a process of active vaccination, using the antigens targeted by pooled human immunoglobulin.MethodsSeven targets were produced recombinantly and mixed to form a multicomponent vaccine (Spy7). Vaccinated mice were challenged with S. pyogenes isolates representing four globally relevant serotypes (M1, M3, M12 and M89) using an established model of invasive disease.ResultsVaccination with Spy7 stimulated the production of anti-streptococcal antibodies, and limited systemic dissemination of M1 and M3 S. pyogenes from an intramuscular infection focus. Vaccination additionally attenuated disease severity due to M1 S. pyogenes as evidenced by reduction in weight loss, and modulated cytokine release.ConclusionSpy7 vaccination successfully stimulated the generation of protective anti-streptococcal immunity in vivo. Identification of reactive antigens using pooled human immunoglobulin may represent a novel route to vaccine discovery for extracellular bacteria.

  • Journal article
    Landais E, Huang X, Havenar-Daughton C, Murrell B, Price MA, Wickramasinghe L, Ramos A, Bian CB, Simek M, Allen S, Karita E, Kilembe W, Lakhi S, Inambao M, Kamali A, Sanders EJ, Anzala O, Edward V, Bekker LG, Tang J, Gilmour J, Kosakovsky-Pond SL, Phung P, Wrin T, Crotty S, Godzik A, Poignard Pet al., 2016,

    Broadly Neutralizing Antibody Responses in a Large Longitudinal Sub-Saharan HIV Primary Infection Cohort.

    , PLOS Pathogens, Vol: 12, ISSN: 1553-7366

    Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) are thought to be a critical component of a protective HIV vaccine. However, designing vaccines immunogens able to elicit bnAbs has proven unsuccessful to date. Understanding the correlates and immunological mechanisms leading to the development of bnAb responses during natural HIV infection is thus critical to the design of a protective vaccine. The IAVI Protocol C program investigates a large longitudinal cohort of primary HIV-1 infection in Eastern and South Africa. Development of neutralization was evaluated in 439 donors using a 6 cross-clade pseudo-virus panel predictive of neutralization breadth on larger panels. About 15% of individuals developed bnAb responses, essentially between year 2 and year 4 of infection. Statistical analyses revealed no influence of gender, age or geographical origin on the development of neutralization breadth. However, cross-clade neutralization strongly correlated with high viral load as well as with low CD4 T cell counts, subtype-C infection and HLA-A*03(-) genotype. A correlation with high overall plasma IgG levels and anti-Env IgG binding titers was also found. The latter appeared not associated with higher affinity, suggesting a greater diversity of the anti-Env responses in broad neutralizers. Broadly neutralizing activity targeting glycan-dependent epitopes, largely the N332-glycan epitope region, was detected in nearly half of the broad neutralizers while CD4bs and gp41-MPER bnAb responses were only detected in very few individuals. Together the findings suggest that both viral and host factors are critical for the development of bnAbs and that the HIV Env N332-glycan supersite may be a favorable target for vaccine design.

  • Journal article
    Witcomb LA, Collins JW, McCarthy AJ, Frankel G, Taylor PWet al., 2015,

    Bioluminescent Imaging Reveals Novel Patterns of Colonization and Invasion in Systemic Escherichia coli K1 Experimental Infection in the Neonatal Rat

    , Infection and Immunity, Vol: 83, Pages: 4528-4540, ISSN: 0019-9567

    Key features of Escherichia coli K1-mediated neonatal sepsis and meningitis, such as a strong age dependency and development along the gut-mesentery-blood-brain course of infection, can be replicated in the newborn rat. We examined temporal and spatial aspects of E. coli K1 infection following initiation of gastrointestinal colonization in 2-day-old (P2) rats after oral administration of E. coli K1 strain A192PP and a virulent bioluminescent derivative, E. coli A192PP-lux2. A combination of bacterial enumeration in the major organs, two-dimensional bioluminescence imaging, and three-dimensional diffuse light imaging tomography with integrated micro-computed tomography indicated multiple sites of colonization within the alimentary canal; these included the tongue, esophagus, and stomach in addition to the small intestine and colon. After invasion of the blood compartment, the bacteria entered the central nervous system, with restricted colonization of the brain, and also invaded the major organs, in line with increases in the severity of symptoms of infection. Both keratinized and nonkeratinized surfaces of esophagi were colonized to a considerably greater extent in susceptible P2 neonates than in corresponding tissues from infection-resistant 9-day-old rat pups; the bacteria appeared to damage and penetrate the nonkeratinized esophageal epithelium of infection-susceptible P2 animals, suggesting the esophagus represents a portal of entry for E. coli K1 into the systemic circulation. Thus, multimodality imaging of experimental systemic infections in real time indicates complex dynamic patterns of colonization and dissemination that provide new insights into the E. coli K1 infection of the neonatal rat.

  • Journal article
    Penny MA, Verity RV, Bever C, Sauboin C, Galactionova K, Flasche S, White MT, Wenger EA, Van de Velde N, Pemberton-Ross P, Griffin JT, Smith TA, Eckhoff PA, Muhib F, Jit M, Ghani ACet al., 2015,

    Public health impact and cost-effectiveness of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine: a systematic comparison of predictions from four mathematical models

    , The Lancet, Vol: 387, Pages: 367-375, ISSN: 0140-6736

    BackgroundThe phase 3 trial of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine candidate showed modest efficacy of the vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but was not powered to assess mortality endpoints. Impact projections and cost-effectiveness estimates for longer timeframes than the trial follow-up and across a range of settings are needed to inform policy recommendations. We aimed to assess the public health impact and cost-effectiveness of routine use of the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine in African settings.MethodsWe compared four malaria transmission models and their predictions to assess vaccine cost-effectiveness and impact. We used trial data for follow-up of 32 months or longer to parameterise vaccine protection in the group aged 5–17 months. Estimates of cases, deaths, and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) averted were calculated over a 15 year time horizon for a range of levels of Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence in 2–10 year olds (PfPR2–10; range 3–65%). We considered two vaccine schedules: three doses at ages 6, 7·5, and 9 months (three-dose schedule, 90% coverage) and including a fourth dose at age 27 months (four-dose schedule, 72% coverage). We estimated cost-effectiveness in the presence of existing malaria interventions for vaccine prices of US$2–10 per dose.FindingsIn regions with a PfPR2–10 of 10–65%, RTS,S/AS01 is predicted to avert a median of 93 940 (range 20 490–126 540) clinical cases and 394 (127–708) deaths for the three-dose schedule, or 116 480 (31 450–160 410) clinical cases and 484 (189–859) deaths for the four-dose schedule, per 100 000 fully vaccinated children. A positive impact is also predicted at a PfPR2–10 of 5–10%, but there is little impact at a prevalence of lower than 3%. At $5 per dose and a PfPR2–10 of 10–65%, we estimated a median incremental cost-effectiveness ratio compared with current interventions of $30 (range 18–2

  • Journal article
    White MT, Verity R, Churcher TS, Ghani ACet al., 2015,

    Vaccine approaches to malaria control and elimination: Insights from mathematical models

    , Vaccine, Vol: 33, Pages: 7544-7550, ISSN: 1873-2518

    A licensed malaria vaccine would provide a valuable new tool for malaria control and elimination efforts.Several candidate vaccines targeting different stages ofthe malaria parasite’s lifecycle are currently underdevelopment, with one candidate, RTS,S/AS01 for the prevention of Plasmodium falciparum infection,having recently completed Phase III trials. Predicting the public health impact of a candidate malariavaccine requires using clinical trial data to estimate the vaccine’s efficacy profile—the initial efficacyfollowing vaccination and the pattern of waning of efficacy over time. With an estimated vaccine efficacyprofile, the effects of vaccination on malaria transmission can be simulated with the aid of mathematicalmodels.Here, we provide an overview of methods for estimating the vaccine efficacy profiles of pre-erythrocyticvaccines and transmission-blocking vaccines from clinicaltrial data. In the case of RTS,S/AS01, model estimatesfrom Phase II clinical trial data indicate a bi-phasic exponential profile of efficacy against infection,with efficacy waning rapidly in the first 6 months after vaccination followed by a slower rate of waningover the next 4 years. Transmission-blocking vaccines have yet to be tested in large-scale Phase II orPhase III clinical trials so we review ongoing work investigating how a clinical trial might be designed toensure that vaccine efficacy can be estimated with sufficient statistical power. Finally, we demonstratehow parameters estimated from clinical trials can be used to predict the impact of vaccination campaignson malaria using a mathematical model of malaria transmission

  • Journal article
    Schroeder GN, Frankel G, Tate EW, Aurass P, Oates CV, Hartland EL, Flieger Aet al., 2015,

    The Legionella pneumophila effector LpdA is a palmitoylated phospholipase D virulence factor

    , Infection and Immunity, Vol: 83, Pages: 3989-4002, ISSN: 1098-5522

    Legionella pneumophila is a bacterial pathogen that thrives in alveolar macrophages, causing a severe pneumonia. The virulence of L. pneumophila depends on its Dot/Icm type IV secretion system (T4SS), which delivers more than 300 effector proteins into the host, where they rewire cellular signaling to establish a replication-permissive niche, the Legionella-containing vacuole (LCV). Biogenesis of the LCV requires substantial redirection of vesicle trafficking and remodeling of intracellular membranes. In order to achieve this, several T4SS effectors target regulators of membrane trafficking, while others resemble lipases. Here, we characterized LpdA, a phospholipase D effector, which was previously proposed to modulate the lipid composition of the LCV. We found that ectopically expressed LpdA was targeted to the plasma membrane and Rab4- and Rab14-containing vesicles. Subcellular targeting of LpdA required a C-terminal motif, which is posttranslationally modified by S-palmitoylation. Substrate specificity assays showed that LpdA hydrolyzed phosphatidylinositol, -inositol-3- and -4-phosphate, and phosphatidylglycerol to phosphatidic acid (PA) in vitro. In HeLa cells, LpdA generated PA at vesicles and the plasma membrane. Imaging of different phosphatidylinositol phosphate (PIP) and organelle markers revealed that while LpdA did not impact on membrane association of various PIP probes, it triggered fragmentation of the Golgi apparatus. Importantly, although LpdA is translocated inefficiently into cultured cells, an L. pneumophila ΔlpdA mutant displayed reduced replication in murine lungs, suggesting that it is a virulence factor contributing to L. pneumophila infection in vivo.

  • Journal article
    White MT, Verity R, Griffin JT, Asante KP, Owusu-Agyei S, Greenwood B, Drakeley C, Gesase S, Lusingu J, Ansong D, Adjei S, Agbenyega T, Ogutu B, Otieno L, Otieno W, Agnandji ST, Lell B, Kremsner P, Hoffman I, Martinson F, Kamthunzu P, Tinto H, Valea I, Sorgho H, Oneko M, Otieno K, Hamel MJ, Salim N, Mtoro A, Abdulla S, Aide P, Sacarlal J, Aponte JJ, Njuguna P, Marsh K, Bejon P, Riley EM, Ghani ACet al., 2015,

    Immunogenicity of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine and implications for duration of vaccine efficacy: secondary analysis of data from a phase 3 randomised controlled trial

    , Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol: 15, Pages: 1450-1458, ISSN: 1473-3099

    BackgroundThe RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine targets the circumsporozoite protein, inducing antibodies associated with the prevention of Plasmodium falciparum infection. We assessed the association between anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres and the magnitude and duration of vaccine efficacy using data from a phase 3 trial done between 2009 and 2014.MethodsUsing data from 8922 African children aged 5–17 months and 6537 African infants aged 6–12 weeks at first vaccination, we analysed the determinants of immunogenicity after RTS,S/AS01 vaccination with or without a booster dose. We assessed the association between the incidence of clinical malaria and anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres using a model of anti-circumsporozoite antibody dynamics and the natural acquisition of protective immunity over time.FindingsRTS,S/AS01-induced anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres were greater in children aged 5–17 months than in those aged 6–12 weeks. Pre-vaccination anti-circumsporozoite titres were associated with lower immunogenicity in children aged 6–12 weeks and higher immunogenicity in those aged 5–17 months. The immunogenicity of the booster dose was strongly associated with immunogenicity after primary vaccination. Anti-circumsporozoite titres wane according to a biphasic exponential distribution. In participants aged 5–17 months, the half-life of the short-lived component of the antibody response was 45 days (95% credible interval 42–48) and that of the long-lived component was 591 days (557–632). After primary vaccination 12% (11–13) of the response was estimated to be long-lived, rising to 30% (28–32%) after a booster dose. An anti-circumsporozoite antibody titre of 121 EU/mL (98–153) was estimated to prevent 50% of infections. Waning anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres predict the duration of efficacy against clinical malaria across different age categories and transmission intensities, and effi

  • Journal article
    So EC, Mattheis C, Tate EW, Frankel G, Schroeder GNet al., 2015,

    Creating a customized intracellular niche: subversion of host cell signaling by Legionella type IV secretion system effectors

    , Canadian Journal of Microbiology, Vol: 61, Pages: 617-635, ISSN: 1480-3275

    The Gram-negative facultative intracellular pathogen Legionella pneumophila infects a wide range of different protozoa in the environment and also human alveolar macrophages upon inhalation of contaminated aerosols. Inside its hosts, it creates a defined and unique compartment, termed the Legionella-containing vacuole (LCV), for survival and replication. To establish the LCV, L. pneumophila uses its Dot/Icm type IV secretion system (T4SS) to translocate more than 300 effector proteins into the host cell. Although it has become apparent in the past years that these effectors subvert a multitude of cellular processes and allow Legionella to take control of host cell vesicle trafficking, transcription, and translation, the exact function of the vast majority of effectors still remains unknown. This is partly due to high functional redundancy among the effectors, which renders conventional genetic approaches to elucidate their role ineffective. Here, we review the current knowledge about Legionella T4SS effectors, highlight open questions, and discuss new methods that promise to facilitate the characterization of T4SS effector functions in the future.

  • Journal article
    Williams KJ, Jenkins VA, Barton GR, Bryant WA, Krishnan N, Robertson BDet al., 2015,

    Deciphering the metabolic response of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to nitrogen stress.

    , Molecular Microbiology, Vol: 97, Pages: 1142-1157, ISSN: 1365-2958

    A key component to the success of Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a pathogen is the ability to sense and adapt metabolically to the diverse range of conditions encountered in vivo, such as oxygen tension, environmental pH and nutrient availability. Although nitrogen is an essential nutrient for every organism, little is known about the genes and pathways responsible for nitrogen assimilation in M. tuberculosis. In this study we have used transcriptomics and ChIP-seq to address this. In response to nitrogen starvation a total of 185 genes were significantly differentially expressed (96 up-regulated and 89 down regulated; 5% genome) highlighting several significant areas of metabolic change during nitrogen limitation such as nitrate/nitrite metabolism, aspartate metabolism and changes in cell wall biosynthesis. We identify GlnR as a regulator involved in the nitrogen response, controlling the expression of at least 33 genes in response to nitrogen limitation. We identify a consensus GlnR binding site and relate its location to known transcriptional start sites. We also show that the GlnR response regulator plays a very different role in M. tuberculosis to that in non-pathogenic mycobacteria, controlling genes involved in nitric oxide detoxification and intracellular survival instead of genes involved in nitrogen scavenging.

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