Two mutant strains of Yersinia pestis KIM5+, a Δcrp mutant and a mutant with arabinose-dependent regulated delayed-shutoff crp expression (araC PBAD crp), were constructed, characterized in vitro, and evaluated for virulence, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy in mice. Both strains were highly attenuated by the subcutaneous (s.c.) route. The 50% lethal doses (LD50s) of the Δcrp and araC PBAD crp mutants were approximately 1,000,000-fold and 10,000-fold higher than those of Y. pestis KIM5+, respectively, indicating that both strains were highly attenuated. Mice vaccinated s.c. with 3.8 x 107 CFU of the Δcrp mutant developed high anti-Y. pestis and anti-LcrV serum IgG titers, both with a strong Th2 bias, and induced protective immunity against subcutaneous challenge with virulent Y. pestis (80% survival) but no protection against pulmonary challenge. Mice vaccinated with 3.0 x 104 CFU of the araC PBAD crp mutant also developed high anti-Y. pestis and anti-LcrV serum IgG titers but with a more balanced Th1/Th2 response. This strain induced complete protection against s.c. challenge and partial protection (70% survival) against pulmonary challenge. Our results demonstrate that arabinose-dependent regulated crp expression is an effective strategy to attenuate Y. pestis while retaining strong immunogenicity, leading to protection against the pneumonic and bubonic forms of plague.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases