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Title:  Leptospira vaccine antigens for the prevention of Leptospirosis

United States Patent:  6,800,734

Issued:  October 5, 2004

Inventors:  Utt; Eric A. (Groton, CT); Willy; Michael Stephen (North Stonington, CT); Dearwester; Don A. (Westerly, RI)

Assignee:  Pfizer Inc. (New York, NY); Pfizer Products Inc. (Groton, CT)

Appl. No.:  255018

Filed:  September 25, 2002

Abstract

Four antigenic preparations are provided, each of which contains a different protein from Leptospira which can be used immunologically in vaccines for leptospirosis caused by this organism. Also provided in the invention are polynucleotides encoding these four proteins and antibodies which bind the proteins for use in the diagnosis of leptospirosis.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is based on the identification of four Leptospira membrane proteins i.e., kinase, permease, mannosyltransferase and endoflagellin, which are associated with pathogenic strains of Leptospira. Due to spirochetal membrane fragility and the fact that membrane proteins are present in small amounts, there have been limited definitive reports of membrane spanning spirochetal membrane proteins until the present invention. The identification of in vivo expressed genes by mRNA subtractive hybridization is a powerful means by which to identify virulence-related genes. The present invention describes the identification of three Leptospira interrogans sv pomona genes which are expressed during colonization of the liver of infected Syrian hamsters. The present invention also describes a fourth gene identified from L. hardjobovis using a ZAP expression library. The invention also describes four membrane proteins from Leptospira which are immunogenic and useful for inducing an immune response to pathogenic Leptospira as well as providing a diagnostic target for leptospirosis.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides four immunogenic proteins from the membrane of a pathogenic Leptospira species. These membrane proteins are kinase, permease, mannosyltransferase and endoflagellin. Also included are four polynucleotide sequences which encode these proteins.

The four immunogenic proteins of the present invention are useful in pharmaceutical compositions for inducing an immune response to pathogenic Leptospira.

The invention includes a method of producing these membranes proteins of Leptospira using recombinant DNA techniques. The genes for the four membrane proteins are cloned into plasmid vectors which are then used to transform E. coli.

The bacterial genes for these four membrane proteins can likely be derived from any strain of pathogenic Leptospira. Preferably the proteins are from Leptospira interrogans sv pomaona or Leptospira borgpetersenii sv hardjobovis. These Leptospira organisms are publically available through the ATOC (10801 University Boulevard, Manassas, Va., 20220-2209), for example.

The invention provides polynucleotides encoding the four Leptospira membrane proteins i.e. kinase, permease, mannosyltransferase and endoflagellin. These polynucleotides include DNA and RNA sequences which encode these four proteins. It is understood that all polynucleotides encoding all or a portion of these four proteins are also included herein, so long as these polynucleotides encode polypeptides that exhibit the function of the native or full length proteins, such as the ability to induce or bind antibody. Such polynucleotides include both naturally occurring and intentionally manipulated, for example, mutagenized polynucleotides.

DNA sequences of the invention can be obtained by several methods. For example, the DNA can be isolated using hybridization procedures which are well known in the art. These include, but are not limited to: 1) hybridization of probes to genomic libraries to detect shared nucleotide sequences and 2) antibody screening of expression libraries to detect shared structural features.

Hybridization procedures are useful for the screening of recombinant clones by using labeled mixed synthetic oligonucleotide probes where each probe is potentially the complete complement of a specific DNA sequence in the hybridization sample which includes a heterogeneous mixture of denatured double-stranded DNA. For such screening, hybridization is preferably performed on either single-stranded DNA or denatured double-stranded DNA. By using stringent hybridization conditions directed to avoid non-specific binding, it is possible, for example, to allow the autoradiographic visualization of a specific DNA clone by the hybridization of the target DNA to that single probe in the mixture which is its complete complement (Wallace, et al., Nucleic Acid Research, 9:879(1981)).

Alternatively, an expression library can be screened indirectly for the four membrane proteins of the invention having at least one epitope per protein using antibodies to these proteins. Such antibodies can be either polyclonally or monoclonally derived and used to detect expression product indicative of the presence of Leptospira kinase, permease, mannosyltransferase and endoflagellin DNA. Generally, a lambda gt11 library is constructed and screened immunologically according to the method of Huynh, et al., (in DNA Cloning: A Practical Approach, D. M. Glover, ed.,1:49 (1985)).

The development of specific DNA sequences encoding each of the kinase, permease, mannosyltransferase and endoflagellin membrane proteins can also be obtained by: (1) isolation of a double-stranded DNA sequence from the genomic DNA, and (2) chemical manufacture of a DNA sequence to provide the necessary codons for the protein of interest.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique can be utilized to obtain or amplify the four individual Leptospira membrane proteins from any strain of Leptopira for subsequent cloning and expression of cDNAs encoding these four proteins (e.g., see U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,683,202; 4,683,195; 4,889,818; Gyllensten et al., Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA, 85:7652-7656 (1988); Ochman et al., Genetics, 120:621-623 (1988) Triglia et al., Nucl. Acids. Res.,16:8156 (1988); Frohman et al., Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA, 85:8998-9002 (1988); Loh et al., Science, 243:217-220 (1989)). Similarly, the PCR technique can be routinely used by those skilled in the art, to generate polynucleotide fragments encoding portions of any of the four Leptospiral membrane proteins of the instant invention.

Methods which are well known to those skilled in the art can be used to construct expression vectors containing the four Leptospira membrane proteins or fragments thereof coding sequences and appropriate transcriptional/translational control signals. These methods include in vitro recombinant DNA techniques, synthetic techniques and in vivo recombination/genetic recombination. See, for example, the techniques described in Maniatis et al., Molecular Cloning A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, N.Y., Chapter 12 (1982).

A variety of host-expression vector systems may be utilized to express the four Leptospira membrane proteins or fragments thereof. These include but are not limited to microorganisms such as bacteria transformed with recombinant bacteriophage DNA, plasmid DNA or cosmid DNA expression vectors containing a coding sequence for a Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof; yeast transformed with recombinant yeast expression vectors containing a coding sequence for a Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof; insect cell systems infected with recombinant virus expression vectors (e.g., baculovirus) containing a coding sequence for a Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof; or animal cell systems infected with recombinant virus expression vectors (e.g., adenovirus, vaccinia virus) containing a coding sequence for a Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof.

The expression elements of these vectors vary in their strength and specificities. Depending on the host/vector system utilized, any of a number of suitable transcription and translation elements, including constitutive and inducible promoters, may be used in the expression vector. For example, when cloning in bacterial systems, inducible promoters such as pL of bacteriophage lambda, plac, ptrp, ptac (ptrp-lac hybrid promoter) and the like may be used; when cloning in insect cell systems, promoters such as the baculovirus polyhedrin promoter may be used; when cloning in mammalian cell systems, promoters such as the adenovirus late promoter or the vaccinia virus 7.5K promoter may be used. Promoters produced by recombinant DNA or synthetic techniques may also be used to provide for transcription of the inserted coding sequence for a Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof.

In yeast, a number of vectors containing constitutive or inducible promoters may be used. For a review see, Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Vol. 2, Ed. Ausubel et al., Greene Publish. Assoc. & Wiley Interscience Ch. 13 (1988); Grant et al., Expression and Secretion Vectors for Yeast, in Methods in Enzymology, Eds. Wu & Grossman, Acad. Press, N.Y., Vol. 153, pp. 516-544 (1987); Glover, DNA Cloning, Vol. II, IRL Press, Wash., D.C. Ch.3 (1986); and Bitter, Heterologous Gene Expression in Yeast, Methods in Enzymology, Eds. Berger & Kimmel, Acad. Press, N.Y., Vol. 152, pp. 673-684 (1987); and The Molecular Biology of the Yeast Saccharomyces, Eds. Strathern et al., Cold Spring Harbor Press, Vols. I and II (1982). For complementation assays in yeast, cDNAs for Leptospira membrane proteins or fragments thereof may be cloned into yeast episomal plasmids (YEp) which replicate autonomously in yeast due to the presence of the yeast 2 mu circle. Any of the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof sequence may be cloned behind either a constitutive yeast promoter such as ADH or LEU2 or an inducible promoter such as GAL (Cloning in Yeast, Ch. 3, R. Rothstein In; DNA Cloning Vol. 11, A Practical Approach, Ed. D M Glover, IRL Press, Wash., D.C. (1986)). Constructs may contain the 5' and 3' non-translated regions of a cognate Leptospira membrane protein mRNA or those corresponding to a yeast gene. YEp plasmids transform at high efficiency and the plasmids are extremely stable. Alternatively vectors may be used which promote integration of foreign DNA sequences into the yeast chromosome.

A particularly good expression system which could be used to express one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins or fragments thereof is an insect system. In one such system, Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus (AcNPV) is used as a vector to express foreign genes. The virus grows in Spodoptera frugiperda cells. The Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence may be cloned into non-essential regions (for example the polyhedrin gene) of the virus and placed under control of an AcNPV promoter (for example the polyhedrin promoter). Successful insertion of the polyhedrin gene results in production of non-occluded recombinant virus (i.e., virus lacking the proteinaceous coat coded for by the polyhedrin gene). These recombinant viruses are then used to infect Spodoptera frugiperda cells in which the inserted gene is expressed. (e.g., see Smith et al., J. Biol., 46:586 (1983); U.S. Pat. No. 4,215,051).

In cases where an adenovirus is used as an expression vector, the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence may be ligated to an adenovirus transcription/translation control complex, e.g., the late promoter and tripartite leader sequence. This chimeric gene may then be inserted in the adenovirus genome by in vivo or in vitro recombination. Insertion in a non-essential region of the viral genome (e.g., region E1 or E3) will result in a recombinant virus that is viable and capable of expressing a Leptospira membrane protein of fragment thereof in infected hosts. (e.g., See Logan & Shenk, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., (USA) 81:3655-3659 (1984)). Alternatively, the vaccinia 7.5K promoter may be used. (e.g., see Mackett et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., (USA) 79:7415-7419 (1982); Mackett et al., J. Virol., 49:857-864 (1984); Panicali et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 79:4927-4931 (1982)).

Specific initiation signals may also be required for efficient translation of the inserted Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequences. These signals include the ATG initiation codon and adjacent sequences. In cases where the entire Leptospira membrane protein genome, including its own initiation codon and adjacent sequences, are inserted into the appropriate expression vectors, no additional translational control signals may be needed. However, in cases where only a portion of the Leptospiral membrane protein coding sequence is inserted, exogenous translational control signals, including the ATG initiation codon, must be provided. Furthermore, the initiation codon must be in phase with the reading frame of the Leptospiral membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence to ensure translation of the entire insert. These exogenous translational control signals and initiation codons can be of a variety of origins, both natural and synthetic. The efficiency of expression may be enhanced by the inclusion of appropriate transcription enhancer elements, transcription terminators, etc. (see Bitter et al., Methods in Enzymol., 153:516-544 (1987)).

In addition, a host cell strain may be chosen which modulates the expression of the inserted sequences, or modifies and processes the gene product in the specific fashion desired. Expression driven by certain promoters can be elevated in the presence of certain inducers, (e.g., zinc and cadmium ions for metallothionein promoters). Therefore, expression of the genetically engineered Leptospiral membrane protein or fragment thereof may be controlled. This is important if the protein product of the cloned foreign gene is lethal to host cells. Furthermore, modifications (e.g., glycosylation) and processing (e.g., cleavage) of protein products may be important for the function of the protein. Different host cells have characteristic and specific mechanisms for the post-translational processing and modification of proteins. Appropriate cell lines or host systems can be chosen to ensure the correct modification and processing of the foreign protein expressed.

The host cells which contain the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence and which express the biologically active Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof gene product may be identified by at least four general approaches: (a) DNA-DNA hybridization; (b) the presence or absence of "marker" gene functions; (c) assessing the level of transcription as measured by expression of a Leptospiral membrane protein mRNA transcripts in host cells; and (d) detection of Leptospiral membrane protein gene products as measured by immunoassays or by its biological activity.

In the first approach, the presence of the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence inserted in the expression vector can be detected by DNA-DNA hybridization using probes comprising nucleotide sequences that are homologous to the Leptospira membrane protein coding sequence or particular portions thereof substantially as described recently (Goeddert et al., 1988, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 85:4051-4055).

In the second approach, the recombinant expression vector/host system can be identified and selected based upon the presence or absence of certain "marker" gene functions (e.g., thymidine kinase activity, resistance to antibiotics, resistance to methotrexate, transformation phenotype, occlusion body formation in baculovirus, etc.). For example, if the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence is inserted within a marker gene sequence of the vector, recombinants containing the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence can be identified by the absence of the marker gene function. Alternatively, a marker gene can be placed in tandem with the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence under the control of the same or different promoter used to control the expression of the Leptospira membrane protein coding sequence. Expression of the marker in response to induction or selection indicates expression of the Leptospira membrane protein coding sequence.

In the third approach, transcriptional activity for the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding region can be assessed by hybridization assays. For example, RNA can be isolated and analyzed by Northern blot using a probe homologous to the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof coding sequence or particular portions thereof substantially as described (Goeddert et al., 1988, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 85:4051-4055). Alternatively, total nucleic acids of the host cell may be extracted and assayed for hybridization to such probes.

In the fourth approach, the expression of the Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof product can be assessed immunologically, for example by Western blots, immunoassays such as radioimmunoprecipitation, enzyme-linked immunoassays and the like.

Once a recombinant that expresses a Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof is identified, the gene product should be analyzed. This can be achieved by assays based on the physical, immunological or functional properties of the product.

A Leptospira membrane protein or fragment thereof should be immunoreactive whether it results from the expression of the entire gene sequence, a portion of the gene sequence or from two or more gene sequences which are ligated to direct the production of chimeric proteins. This reactivity may be demonstrated by standard immunological techniques, such as radioimmunoprecipitation, radioimmune competition, or immunoblots.

DNA sequences encoding the four membrane proteins of the invention can be expressed in vitro by DNA transfer into a suitable host cell. "Recombinant host cells" or "host cells" are cells in which a vector can be propagated and its DNA expressed. The term also includes any progeny of the subject host cell. It is understood that not all progeny are identical to the parental cell since there may be mutations that occur at replication. However, such progeny are included when the terms above are used.

The term "host cell" as used in the present invention is meant to include not only prokaryotes, but also, such eukaryotes as yeasts, filamentous fungi, as well as plant and animal cells. The term "prokaryote" is meant to include all bacteria, which can be transformed with the genes for the expression of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention. Prokaryotic hosts may include Gram negative as well as Gram positive bacteria, such as E. coil, S. typhimurium, and Bacillus subtilis.

A recombinant DNA molecule coding for the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention can be used to transform a host using any of the techniques commonly known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Especially preferred is the use of a plasmid containing any of the four Leptospira membrane protein coding sequences for purposes of prokaryotic transformation. Where the host is prokaryotic, such as E. coli, competent cells which are capable of DNA uptake can be prepared from cells harvested after exponential growth phase and subsequently treated by the CaCl2 method by procedures well known in the art. Alternatively, MgCl2 or RbCl can be used. Transformation can also be performed after forming a protoplast of the host cell.

In the present invention, any of the four Leptospira membrane protein encoding sequences may be inserted into a recombinant expression vector. The term "recombinant expression vector" refers to a plasmid, virus or other vehicle known in the art that has been manipulated by insertion or incorporation of any of the four Leptospira membrane protein genetic sequences. Such expression vectors contain a promotor sequence which facilitates the efficient transcription of the inserted genetic sequence in the host. The expression vector typically contains an origin of replication, a promoter, as well as specific genes which allow phenotypic selection of the transformed cells. The transformed prokaryotic hosts can be cultured according to means known in the art to achieve optimal cell growth. Various shuttle vectors for the expression of foreign genes in yeast have been reported (Heinemann, et al., Nature, 340:205 (1989); Rose, et al., Gene, 60:237 (1987)). Biologically functional DNA vectors capable of expression and replication in a host are known in the art. Such vectors are used to incorporate DNA sequences of the invention.

Methods for preparing fused, operably linked genes and expressing them in bacteria are known and are shown, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,366,246 which is incorporated herein by reference. The genetic constructs and methods described therein can be utilized for expression of any of the four Leptospira membrane proteins in prokaryotic hosts.

Examples of promoters which can be used in the invention are: rec A, trp, lac, tac, and bacteriophage lambda p[R] or p[L]. Examples of plasmids which can be used in the invention are listed in Maniatis, et al., (Molecular Cloning, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, 1982).

Antibodies provided in the present invention are immunoreactive with any of the four Leptospira membrane proteins. Antibody which consists essentially of pooled monoclonal antibodies with different epitopic specificities, as well as distinct monoclonal antibody preparations are provided. Monoclonal antibodies are made from antigen containing fragments of the protein by methods well known in the art (Kohler, et al., Nature, 256:495 (1975); Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Ausubel, et al., ed., (1989)).

The term "antibody" as used in this invention includes intact molecules as well as fragments thereof, such as Fab, F(ab')2, and Fv which are capable of binding the epitopic determinant. These antibody fragments retain some ability to selectively bind with its antigen or receptor and are defined as follows:

(1) Fab, the fragment which contains a monovalent antigen-binding fragment of an antibody molecule can be produced by digestion of whole antibody with the enzyme papain to yield an intact light chain and a portion of one heavy chain;

(2) Fab', the fragment of an antibody molecule can be obtained by treating whole antibody with pepsin, followed by reduction, to yield an intact light chain and a portion of the heavy chain; two Fab' fragments are obtained per antibody molecule;

(3) (Fab')2, the fragment of the antibody that can be obtained by treating whole antibody with the enzyme pepsin without subsequent reduction; F(ab')2 is a dimer of two Fab' fragments held together by two disulfide bonds;

(4) Fv, defined as a genetically engineered fragment containing the variable region of the light chain and the variable region of the heavy chain expressed as two chains; and

(5) Single chain antibody ("SCA"), defined as a genetically engineered molecule containing the variable region of the light chain, the variable region of the heavy chain, linked by a suitable polypeptide linker as a genetically fused single chain molecule.

Methods of making these fragments are known in the art. (See for example, Harlow and Lane, Antibodies: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York (1988), incorporated herein by reference).

As used in this invention, the term "epitope" means any antigenic determinant on an antigen to which the paratope of an antibody binds. Epitopic determinants usually consist of chemically active surface groupings of molecules such as amino acids or sugar side chains and usually have specific three dimensional structural characteristics, as well as specific charge characteristics.

Antibodies which bind to any of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention can be prepared using an intact polypeptide or fragments containing small peptides of interest as the immunizing antigen.

Any of the proteins or fragments thereof of SEQ ID NOS: 1-4 can also be produced by chemical synthesis of the amino acid sequence of any of these four proteins (Goeddert et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 85:4051-4055 (1988)), as predicted from the cloning and sequencing of a cDNA coding for any of these four Leptospira membrane proteins. The four Leptospira membrane proteins may be chemically synthesized using standard peptide synthesis methods known in the art. These methods include a solid-phase method devised by R. Bruce Merrifield, (Erickson and Merrifield, "Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis", in The Proteins, Volume 2, H. Neurath & R. Hill (eds.) Academic Press, Inc., New York pp. 255-257; Merrifield, "Solid phase synthesis", Science, 242:341-347 (1986)). In the solid-phase method, amino acids are added stepwise to a growing peptide chain that is linked to an insoluble matrix, such as polystyrene beads. A major advantage of this method is that the desired product at each stage is bound to beads that can be rapidly filtered and washed and thus the need to purify intermediates is obviated. All of the reactions are carried out in a single vessel, which eliminates losses due to repeated transfers of products. This solid phase method of chemical peptide synthesis can readily be automated making it feasible to routinely synthesize peptides containing about 50 residues in good yield and purity (Stewart and Young, Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis, 2nd ed., Pierce Chemical Co. (1984); Tam et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 105:6442 (1983)).

Any of the proteins or fragments thereof of SEQ ID NOS: 1-4 used to immunize an animal can be derived from translated cDNA or chemical synthesis which can be conjugated to a carrier protein, if desired. Such commonly used carriers which are chemically coupled to the peptide include keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), thyroglobulin, bovine serum albumin (BSA), and tetanus toxoid. The coupled peptide is then used to immunize the animal (e.g., a mouse, a rat, or a rabbit).

If desired, polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies can be further purified, for example, by binding to and elution from a matrix to which any of the four proteins or a fragment thereof of any of the four proteins to which the antibodies were raised is bound. Those of skill in the art will know of various techniques common in the immunology arts for purification and/or concentration of polyclonal antibodies, as well as monoclonal antibodies (See for example, Coligan, et al., Unit 9, Current Protocols in Immunology, Wiley Interscience, 1991, incorporated by reference).

It is also possible to use the anti-idiotype technology to produce monoclonal antibodies which mimic an epitope. For example, an anti-idiotypic monoclonal antibody made to a first monoclonal antibody will have a binding domain in the hypervariable region which is the "image" of the epitope bound by the first monoclonal antibody.

Minor modifications of primary amino acid sequence of any of the four proteins of the invention may result in proteins which have substantially equivalent function compared to the native Leptospira proteins described herein. Such modifications may be deliberate, as by site-directed mutagenesis, or may be spontaneous. All proteins produced by these modifications are included herein as long as native function exists i.e., binds to antibody specific to the any of the four Leptospira membrane proteins.

Modifications of primary amino acid sequence of any of the four membrane proteins also include conservative variations. The term "conservative variation" as used herein denotes the replacement of an amino acid residue by another, biologically similar residue. Examples of conservative variations include the substitution of one hydrophobic residue such as isoleucine, valine, leucine or methionine for another, or the substitution of one polar residue for another, such as the substitution of arginine for lysine, glutamic for aspartic acids, or glutamine for asparagine, and the like. The term "conservative variation" also includes the use of a substituted amino acid in place of an unsubstituted parent amino acid provided that antibodies raised to the substituted protein or fragment thereof also immunoreact with the unsubstituted protein or fragment thereof.

Isolation and purification of microbially expressed protein, on fragments thereof, provided by the invention, may be carried out by conventional means including preparative chromatography and immunological separations involving monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies.

The invention extends to any host modified according to the methods described, or modified by any other methods, commonly known to those of ordinary skill in the art, such as, for example, by transfer of genetic material using a lysogenic phage, and which result in a prokaryote expressing any of the four Leptospira genes for membrane proteins kinase, permease, mannosyltransferase or endoflagellin. Prokaryotes transformed with any of the four Leptospira genes encoding the four membrane proteins of the invention are particularly useful for the production of polypeptides which can be used for the immunization of an animal (e.g., a rabbit).

In one embodiment, the invention provides a pharmaceutical composition useful for inducing an immune response to pathogenic Leptospira in an animal comprising an immunologically effective amount of any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins in a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. The term "immunogenically effective amount," as used in describing the invention, is meant to denote that amount of Leptospira antigen which is necessary to induce in an animal the production of an immune response to Leptospira. The four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention are particularly useful in sensitizing the immune system of an animal such that, as one result, an immune response is produced which ameliorates the effect of Leptospira infection.

Any of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention can be administered parenterally by injection, rapid infusion, nasopharyngeal absorption, dermal absorption, and orally. Pharmaceutically acceptable carrier preparations for parenteral administration include sterile or aqueous or non-aqueous solutions, suspensions, and emulsions. Examples of non-aqueous solvents are propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, vegetable oils such as olive oil, and injectable organic esters such as ethyl oleate. Carriers for occlusive dressings can be used to increase skin permeability and enhance antigen absorption. Liquid dosage forms for oral administration may generally comprise a liposome solution containing the liquid dosage form. Suitable forms for suspending the liposomes include emulsions, suspensions, solutions, syrups, and elixirs containing inert diluents commonly used in the art, such as purified water. Besides the inert diluents, such compositions can also include adjuvants, wetting agents, emulsifying and suspending agents, and sweetening, flavoring, and perfuming agents.

It is also possible for the antigenic preparations containing any of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention to include an adjuvant. Adjuvants are substances that can be used to nonspecifically augment a specific immune response. Normally, the adjuvant and the antigen are mixed prior to presentation to the immune system, or presented separately, but into the same site of the animal (including a human) being immunized. Adjuvants can be loosely divided into several groups based on their composition.

These groups include oil adjuvants (for example, Freund's Complete and Incomplete), mineral salts (for example, AlK(SO4)2, AlNa(SO4)2, AlNH4(SO4), silica, alum, Al(OH)3, Ca3 (PO4)2, kaolin, and carbon), polynucleotides (for example, poly IC and poly AU acids), and certain natural substances (for example, wax D from Mycobactetium tuberculosis, as well as substances found in Colynebacterium parvum, Bordetella pertussis, and members of the genus Brucella).

In another embodiment, a method of inducing an immune response to pathogenic Leptospira in an animal (including a human) is provided. Many different techniques exist for the timing of the immunizations when a multiple immunization regimen is utilized. It is possible to use the antigenic preparation of the invention more than once to increase the levels and diversity of expression of the immune response of the immunized animal. Typically, if multiple immunizations are given, they will be spaced two to four weeks apart. Subjects in which an immune response to Leptospira is desirable include swine, cattle and humans.

Generally, the dosage of any of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention administered to an animal (including a human) will vary depending on such factors as age, condition, sex and extent of disease, if any, and other variables which can be adjusted by one of ordinary skill in the art.

The antigenic preparations of the invention can be administered as either single or multiple dosages and can vary from about 10 ug to about 1,000 ug for any of the four Leptospira membrane protein antigen per dose, more preferably from about 50 ug to about 700 ug antigen per dose, most preferably from about 50 ug to about 300 ug antigen per dose. When used for immunotherapy, the monoclonal antibodies of the invention maybe unlabeled or labeled with a therapeutic agent. These agents can be coupled either directly or indirectly to the monoclonal antibodies of the invention. One example of indirect coupling is by use of a spacer moiety. These spacer moieties, in turn, can be either insoluble or soluble (Diener, et al., Science, 231:148 (1986)) and can be selected to enable drug release from the monoclonal antibody molecule at the target site. Examples of therapeutic agents which can be coupled to the monoclonal antibodies of the invention for immunotherapy are drugs, radioisotopes, lectins, and toxins. The labeled or unlabeled monoclonal antibodies of the invention can also be used in combination with therapeutic agents such as those described above.

Especially preferred are therapeutic combinations comprising the monoclonal antibody of the invention and immunomodulators and other biological response modifiers. When the monoclonal antibody of the invention is used in combination with various therapeutic agents, such as those described herein, the administration of the monoclonal antibody and the therapeutic agent usually occurs substantially contemporaneously. The term "substantially contemporaneously" means that the monoclonal antibody and the therapeutic agent are administered reasonably close together with respect to time. Usually, it is preferred to administer the therapeutic agent before the monoclonal antibody. For example, the therapeutic agent can be administered 1 to 6 days before the monoclonal antibody. The administration of the therapeutic agent can be daily, or at any other interval, depending upon such factors, for example, as the nature of the disorder, the condition of the patient and half-life of the agent.

The dosage ranges for the administration of monoclonal antibodies of the invention are those large enough to produce the desired effect in which the onset symptoms of the leptospiral disease are ameliorated. The dosage should not be so large as to cause adverse side effects, such as unwanted cross-reactions, anaphylactic reactions, and the like. Generally, the dosage will vary with the age, condition, sex and extent of the disease in the subject and can be determined by one of skill in the art. The dosage can be adjusted by the individual physician in the event of any complication. Dosage can vary from about 0.1 mg/kg to about 2000 mg/kg, preferably about 0.1 mg/kg to about 500 mg/kg, in one or more dose administrations daily, for one or several days. Generally, when the monoclonal antibodies of the invention are administered conjugated with therapeutic agents, lower dosages, comparable to those used for in vivo diagnostic imaging, can be used.

The monoclonal antibodies of the invention can be administered parenterally by injection or by gradual perfusion over time. The monoclonal antibodies of the invention can be administered intravenously, intraperitoneally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously, intracavity, or transdermally, alone or in combination with effector cells.

Preparations for parenteral administration include sterile aqueous or non-aqueous solutions, suspensions, and emulsions. Examples of non-aqueous solvents are propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, vegetable oils such as olive oil, and injectable organic esters such as ethyl oleate. Aqueous carriers include water, alcoholic/aqueous solutions, emulsions or suspensions, including saline and buffered media. Parenteral vehicles include sodium chloride solution, Ringer's dextrose, dextrose and sodium chloride, lactated Ringer's intravenous vehicles include fluid and nutrient replenishers, electrolyte replenishers (such as those based on Ringer's dextrose), and the like. Preservatives and other additives may also be present such as, for example, antimicrobials, anti-oxidants, chelating agents and inert gases and the like.

In a further embodiment, the invention provides a method of detecting a pathogenic Leptospira-associated disorder in an animal (including a human) comprising contacting a cell component with a reagent which binds to the cell component. The cell component can be nucleic acid, such as DNA or RNA, or it can be protein. When the component is nucleic acid, the reagent is a nucleic acid probe or PCR primer. When the cell component is protein, the reagent is an antibody probe.

The probes are detectably labeled, for example, with a radioisotope, a fluorescent compound, a bioluminescent compound, a chemiluminescent compound, a metal chelator or an enzyme. Those of ordinary skill in the art will know of other suitable labels for binding to the antibody, or will be able to ascertain such, using routine experimentation.

For purposes of the invention, an antibody or nucleic acid probe specific for any of the four Leptospira proteins of the invention may be used to detect the presence of that protein (using antibody) or polynucleotide (using nucleic acid probe) in biological fluids or tissues. Any specimen containing a detectable amount any of the four Leptospira membrane protein antigens or polynucleotides can be used. A preferred specimen of this invention is blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, or tissue of endothelial origin.

When the cell component is nucleic acid, it may be necessary to amplify the nucleic acid prior to binding with a Leptospira specific probe. Preferably, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used, however, other nucleic acid amplification procedures such as ligase chain reaction (LCR), ligated activated transcription (LAT) and nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA) may be used.

Another technique which may also result in greater sensitivity consists of coupling antibodies to low molecular weight haptens. These haptens can then be specifically detected by means of a second reaction. For example, it is common to use such haptens as biotin, which reacts with avidin, or dinitrophenyl, pyridoxal, and fluorescein, which can react with specific antihapten antibodies.

Alternatively, any of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention can be used to detect antibodies to any one of those four proteins in a specimen. The four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention are particularly suited for use in immunoassays in which it can be utilized in liquid phase or bound to a solid phase carrier. In addition, any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins used in these assays can be detectably labeled in various ways.

Examples of immunoassays which can utilize any one of the four membrane proteins of the invention are competitive and noncompetitive immunoassays in either a direct or indirect format. Examples of such immunoassays are the radioimmunoassay (RIA), the enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, the sandwich (immunometric) assay, a precipitin reaction, a gel immunodiffusion assay, an agglutination assay, a fluorescent immunoassay, a protein A immunoassay and an immunoelectrophoresis assay, and the Western blot assay. Detection of antibodies which bind to any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention can be done utilizing immunoassays which run in either the forward, reverse, or simultaneous modes, including immunohistochemical assays on physiological samples. The concentration of the Leptopira membrane protein which is used will vary depending on the type of immunoassay and nature of the detectable label which is used. However, regardless of the type of immunoassay which is used, the concentration of the Leptospira membrane protein utilized can be readily determined by one of ordinary skill in the art using routine experimentation.

Any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention can be bound to many different carriers and used to detect the presence of antibody specifically reactive with the protein.

Examples of well-known carriers include glass, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polyethylene, polycarbonate, dextran, nylon, amyloses, naturaland modified celluloses, polyacrylamides, agaroses, and magnetite. The nature of the carrier can be either soluble or insoluble for purposes of the invention.

Those skilled in the art will know of other suitable carriers for binding any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention or will be able to ascertain such, using routine experimentation.

There are many different labels and methods of labeling known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Examples of the types of labels which can be used in the present invention include enzymes, radioisotopes, colloidal metals, fluorescent compounds, chemiluminescent compounds, and bioluminescent compounds.

For purposes of the invention, the antibody which binds to any one of the Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention may be present in various biological fluids and tissues. Any sample containing a detectable amount of antibodies to any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins can be used. Normally, a sample is a liquid such as urine, saliva, cerebrospinal fluid, blood, serum and the like, or a solid or semi-solid such as tissue, feces and the like. The monoclonal antibodies of the invention, directed toward any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention, are also useful for the in vivo. detection of antigen. The delectably labeled monoclonal antibody is given in a dose which is diagnostically effective. The term "diagnostically effective" means that the amount of delectably labeled monoclonal antibody is administered in sufficient quantity to enable detection of any one of the four Leptospira membrane protein antigens for which the monoclonal antibodies are specific.

The concentration of detectably labeled monoclonal antibody which is administered should be sufficient such that the binding to those cells, body fluid, or tissue having any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins is detectable compared to the background. Further, it is desirable that the detectably labeled monoclonal antibody be rapidly cleared from the circulatory system in order to give the best target-to-background signal ratio.

As a rule, the dosage of detectably labeled monoclonal antibody for in vivo diagnosis will vary depending on such factors as age, sex, and extent of disease of the animal (including a human). The dosage of monoclonal antibody can vary from about 0.001 mg/m2 to about 500 mg/m2, preferably 0.1 mg/m2 to about 200 mg/m2, most preferably about 0.1 mg/m2 to about 10 mg/m2. Such dosages may vary, for example, depending on whether multiple injections are given, and other factors known to those of skill in the art.

For in vivo diagnostic imaging, the type of detection instrument available is a major factor in selecting a given radioisotope. The radioisotope chosen must have a type of decay which is detectable for a given type of instrument. Still another important factor in selecting a radioisotope for in vivo diagnosis is that the half-life of the radioisotope be long enough so that it is still detectable at the time of maximum uptake by the target, but short enough so that deleterious radiation with respect to the host is minimized. Ideally, a radioisotope used for in vivo imaging will lack a particle emission, but produce a large number of photons in the 140-250 key range, which may be readily detected by conventional gamma cameras.

For in vivo diagnosis, radioisotopes may be bound to immunoglobulin either directly or indirectly by using an intermediate functional group. Intermediate functional groups which often are used to bind radioisotopes which exist as metallic ions to immunoglobulins are the bifunctional chelating agents such as diethylenetriaminepentacetic acid (DTPA) and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and similar molecules. Typical examples of metallic ions which can be bound to the monoclonal antibodies of the invention are 111 In, 97 Ru, 67 Ga, 68 Ga, 72 As, 89 Zr and 201 TI.

The monoclonal antibodies of the invention can also be labeled with a paramagnetic isotope for purposes of in vivo diagnosis, as in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or electron spin resonance (ESR). In general, any conventional method for visualizing diagnostic imaging can be utilized. Usually gamma and positron emitting radioisotopes are used for camera imaging and paramagnetic isotopes for MRI. Elements which are particularly useful in such techniques include 157 Gd, 55 Mn, 162 Dy, 52 Cr, and 56 Fe.

The monoclonal antibodies of the invention can be used to monitor the course of amelioration of Leptospira associated disorder. Thus, by measuring the increase or decrease of any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins of the invention or antibodies to the any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins present in various body fluids or tissues, it would be possible to determine whether a particular therapeutic regiment aimed at ameliorating the disorder is effective.

The materials for use in the method of the invention are ideally suited for the preparation of a kit. Such a kit may comprise a carrier means being compartmentalized to receive in close confinement one or more container means such as vials, tubes, and the like, each of the container means comprising one of the separate elements to be used in the method. For example, one of the container means may comprise a binding reagent to any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins, such as an antibody. A second container may further comprise any one of the four Leptospira membrane proteins recognized by such antibody. The constituents may be present in liquid or lyophilized form, as desired.

Claim 1 of 2 Claims

What is claimed is:

1. An isolated protein of Leptospira interrogans sv pomona comprising the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:2.



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