Identification of vaccine antigens using integrated proteomic analyses of surface immunogens from serogroup B Neisseria meningitidis

Nikos Tsolakos, Charlotte Brookes, Stephen Taylor, Andrew Gorringe, Christoph M. Tang, Ian M. Feavers, Jun X. Wheeler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Meningococcal surface proteins capable of evoking a protective immune response are candidates for inclusion in protein-based vaccines against serogroup B Neisseria meningitidis (NmB). In this study, a 2-dimensional (2-D) gel-based platform integrating surface and immune-proteomics was developed to characterize NmB surface protein antigens. The surface proteome was analyzed by differential 2-D gel electrophoresis following treatment of live bacteria with proteinase K. Alongside, proteins recognized by immune sera from mice challenged with live meningococci were detected using 2-D immunoblots. In combination, seventeen proteins were identified including the well documented antigens PorA, OpcA and factor H-binding protein, previously reported potential antigens and novel potential immunogens. Results were validated for the macrophage infectivity potentiator (MIP), a recently proposed NmB vaccine candidate. MIP-specific antisera bound to meningococci in whole-cell ELISA and facilitated opsonophagocytosis and deposition of complement factors on the surface of meningococcal isolates of different serosubtypes. Cleavage by proteinase K was confirmed in western blots and shown to occur in a fraction of the MIP expressed by meningococci suggesting transient or limited surface exposure. These observations add knowledge for the development of a protein NmB vaccine. The proteomic workflow presented here may be used for the discovery of vaccine candidates against other pathogens. Biological significance: This study presents an integrated proteomic strategy to identify proteins from N. meningitidis with desirable properties (i.e. surface exposure and immunogenicity) for inclusion in subunit vaccines against bacterial meningitis. The effectiveness of the method was demonstrated by the identification of some of the major meningococcal vaccine antigens. Information was also obtained about novel potential immunogens as well as the recently described potential antigen macrophage infectivity potentiator which can be useful for its consideration as a vaccine candidate. Additionally, the proteomic strategy presented in this study provides a generic 2-D gel-based platform for the discovery of vaccine candidates against other bacterial infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-76
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Proteomics
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control . The authors would like to thank Caroline Vipond, Hema Patel and Holly Sanders for technical assistance, Yanwen Li for the gift of sera and Chris Jones for discussions and support.


  • Differential gel electrophoresis
  • Immunoproteome
  • Macrophage infectivity potentiator
  • Meningococcal vaccines
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Proteomics


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