Stabilization of recombinant avirulent vaccine strains in vivo

R. Curtiss, J. E. Galan, K. Nakayama, S. M. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Salmonella strains attenuated by various mutational alterations and expressing heterologous colonization and virulence antigens specified by cloned genes have begun to be widely used as vaccines for oral immunization to induce protective immunity against the pathogens supplying the genes for the colonization or virulence antigens. Problems associated with plasmid instability and/or poor expression of cloned gene products have frequently been encountered and regulatory agencies are now banning use of antibiotic resistance markers in live attenuated vaccine strains. We have therefore developed a balanced lethal host-vector system in which the chromosome of the attenuated vaccine strain contains a deletion mutation that impose a requirement for diaminopimelic acid (DAP), an essential constituent of the rigid layer of the cell wall of all Gram-negative and some Gram-positive microbes. The plasmid cloning vector contains the wild-type allele for this gene allowing the recombinant avirulent Salmonella to be independent of DAP. Since DAP is not prevalent in nature, especially in the animal host, essentially 100% of the surviving avirulent Salmonella recovered from an immunized animal host still contain the recombinant plasmid and express the foreign colonization or virulence antigen. Occasional loss of the plasmid renders the avirulent Salmonella DAP-requiring, which quickly results in DAPless death with lysis of the bacterium to release its antigenic contents, an occurrence which might further enhance the immune response to the foreign colonization or virulence antigen. We describe below strains of bacteria, recombinant vectors and the methods to make use of this system in a diversity of situations for development of live recombinant avirulent vaccines as well as for other potential applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-805
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Microbiology
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 1990


  • Avirulence
  • Balanced lethal host-vector system
  • Live vaccine
  • Plasmid stability
  • Protective immunity
  • Recombinant
  • Salmonella

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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