Background: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), infects ~8 million annually culminating in ~2 million deaths. Moreover, about one third of the population is latently infected, 10% of which develop disease during lifetime. Current approved prophylactic TB vaccines (BCG and derivatives thereof) are of variable efficiency in adult protection against pulmonary TB (0%–80%), and directed essentially against early phase infection.
Methods: A genome-scale dataset was constructed by analyzing published data of: (1) global gene expression studies under conditions which simulate intra-macrophage stress, dormancy, persistence and/or reactivation; (2) cellular and humoral immunity, and vaccine potential. This information was compiled along with revised annotation/bioinformatic characterization of selected gene products and in silico mapping of T-cell epitopes. Protocols for scoring, ranking and prioritization of the antigens were developed and applied.
Results: Cross-matching of literature and in silico-derived data, in conjunction with the prioritization scheme and biological rationale, allowed for selection of 189 putative vaccine candidates from the entire genome. Within the 189 set, the relative distribution of antigens in 3 functional categories differs significantly from their distribution in the whole genome, with reduction in the Conserved hypothetical category (due to improved annotation) and enrichment in Lipid and in Virulence categories. Other prominent representatives in the 189 set are the PE/PPE proteins; iron sequestration, nitroreductases and proteases, all within the Intermediary metabolism and respiration category; ESX secretion systems, resuscitation promoting factors and lipoproteins, all within the Cell wall category. Application of a ranking scheme based on qualitative and quantitative scores, resulted in a list of 45 best-scoring antigens, of which: 74% belong to the dormancy/reactivation/resuscitation classes; 30% belong to the Cell wall category; 13% are classical vaccine candidates; 9% are categorized Conserved hypotheticals, all potentially very potent T-cell antigens.
Conclusion: The comprehensive literature and in silico-based analyses allowed for the selection of a repertoire of 189 vaccine candidates, out of the whole-genome 3989 ORF products. This repertoire, which was ranked to generate a list of 45 top-hits antigens, is a platform for selection of genes covering all stages of M. tuberculosis infection, to be incorporated in rBCG or subunit-based vaccines.
Zvi, A.; Ariel, N.; Fulkerson, J.; Sadoff, J.C.; Shafferman, A. Whole genome identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis vaccine candidates by comprehensive data mining and bioinformatic analyses. BMC Medical Genomics (2008) 1 (1) 18. [DOI: 10.1186/1755-8794-1-18]