• Anti-CfaE nanobodies provide broad cross-protection against major pathogenic enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli strains, with implications for vaccine design.

      Amcheslavsky, Alla; Wallace, Aaron L; Ejemel, Monir; Li, Qi; McMahon, Conor T; Stoppato, Matteo; Giuntini, Serena; Schiller, Zachary A; Pondish, Jessica R; Toomey, Jacqueline R; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-02-02)
      Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is estimated to cause approximately 380,000 deaths annually during sporadic or epidemic outbreaks worldwide. Development of vaccines against ETEC is very challenging due to the vast heterogeneity of the ETEC strains. An effective vaccines would have to be multicomponent to provide coverage of over ten ETEC strains with genetic variabilities. There is currently no vaccine licensed to prevent ETEC. Nanobodies are successful new biologics in treating mucosal infectious disease as they recognize conserved epitopes on hypervariable pathogens. Cocktails consisting of multiple nanobodies could provide even broader epitope coverage at a lower cost compared to monoclonal antibodies. Identification of conserved epitopes by nanobodies can also assist reverse engineering of an effective vaccine against ETEC. By screening nanobodies from immunized llamas and a naïve yeast display library against adhesins of colonization factors, we identified single nanobodies that show cross-protective potency against eleven major pathogenic ETEC strains in vitro. Oral administration of nanobodies led to a significant reduction of bacterial colonization in animals. Moreover, nanobody-IgA fusion showed extended inhibitory activity in mouse colonization compared to commercial hyperimmune bovine colostrum product used for prevention of ETEC-induced diarrhea. Structural analysis revealed that nanobodies recognized a highly-conserved epitope within the putative receptor binding region of ETEC adhesins. Our findings support further rational design of a pan-ETEC vaccine to elicit robust immune responses targeting this conserved epitope. © 2021, The Author(s).
    • Identification and characterization of human monoclonal antibodies for immunoprophylaxis against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection

      Giuntini, Serena; Stoppato, Matteo; Barry, Eileen M. (American Society for Microbiology, 2018-08-01)
      Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) causes diarrheal illness in infants in the developing world and travelers to countries where the disease is endemic, including military personnel. ETEC infection of the host involves colonization of the small intestinal epithelium and toxin secretion, leading to watery diarrhea. There is currently no vaccine licensed to prevent ETEC infection. CFA/I is one of the most common colonization factor antigens (CFAs). The CFA/I adhesin subunit, CfaE, is required for ETEC adhesion to host intestinal cells. Human antibodies against CfaE have the potential to block colonization of ETEC and serve as an immunoprophylactic against ETEC-related diarrhea. Mice transgenic for human immunoglobulin genes were immunized with CfaE to generate a panel of human monoclonal IgG1 antibodies (HuMAbs). The most potent IgG1 antibodies identified in the in vitro functional assays were selected and isotype switched to secretory IgA (sIgA) and tested in animal colonization assays via oral administration. Over 300 unique anti-CfaE IgG1 HuMAbs were identified. The lead IgG1 anti-CfaE HuMAbs completely inhibited hemagglutination and blocked adhesion of ETEC to Caco-2 cells. Epitope mapping studies revealed that HuMAbs recognized epitopes in the N-terminal domain of CfaE near the putative receptor binding site. Oral administration of anti-CfaE antibodies in either IgG or sIgA isotypes inhibited intestinal colonization in mice challenged with ETEC. A 2- to 4-log decrease in CFU was observed in comparison to mice challenged with irrelevant isotype controls. We identified fully human monoclonal antibodies against the CfaE adhesion domain that can be potentially employed as an immunoprophylactic to prevent ETEC-related diarrhea.