Anthrax is caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which has been used as a weapon for bioterrorism. Although current vaccines are effective, they involve prolonged dose regimens and often cause adverse reactions. High rates of mortality associated with anthrax have made the development of an improved vaccine a top priority. To identify novel vaccine candidates, we applied an immunoproteomics approach. Using sera from convalescent guinea pigs or from human patients with anthrax, we identified 34 immunogenic proteins from the virulent B. anthracis H9401. To evaluate vaccine candidates, six were expressed as recombinant proteins and tested in vivo. Two proteins, rGBAA_0345 (alkyl hydroperoxide reductase subunit C) and rGBAA_3990 (malonyl CoA-acyl carrier protein transacylase), have afforded guinea pigs partial protection from a subsequent virulent-spore challenge. Moreover, combined vaccination with rGBAA_0345 and rPA (protective antigen) exhibited an enhanced ability to protect against anthrax mortality. Finally, we demonstrated that GBAA_0345 localizes to anthrax spores and bacilli. Our results indicate that rGBAA_0345 may be a potential component of a multivalent anthrax vaccine, as it enhances the efficacy of rPA vaccination. This is the first time that sera from patients with anthrax have been used to interrogate the proteome of virulent B. anthracis vegetative cells.
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