A highly immunogenic recombinant and truncated protein of the secreted aspartic proteases family (rSap2t) of Candida albicans as a mucosal anticandidal vaccine


  • Editor: Willem van Eden

Correspondence: Flavia De Bernardis, Department of Infectious Parasitic and Immune-Mediated Diseases, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, Rome 00161, Italy. Tel.: +39 06 4990 2809; fax: +39 06 4990 2809; e-mail: flavia.debernardis@iss.it


Sap2 (secreted aspartyl proteinase2) is a member of the Sap family of Candida albicans, a human opportunistic pathogen, which acts as a virulence factor in experimental animal models of mucosal candidiasis. The C. albicans SAP2 was subcloned into vector pDS56-RBSII-6xhis, under the control of an inducible promoter to produce a truncated 6xhis-tagged, enzymatically inactive Sap2, lacking the N-terminus 76 amino acids (rSap2t). This recombinant protein was purified to homogeneity by one-step nickel-chelate affinity chromatography and used to immunize intravaginally oophorectomized estradiol-treated rats. These animals raised local anti-rSap2t immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgA antibodies and were protected from the challenge of a highly vaginopathic strain of the fungus. Protection was possibly due to the specific antibodies as suggested by the passive transfer of immune vaginal fluid and the protective effects of passive vaccination with anti-rSap2t IgM and IgG monoclonal antibodies. Hence, this new recombinant proteinase constitutes a novel tool to investigate mechanisms of anti-Candida protection at the vaginal level and as vaccination against vaginal candidiasis, a common, frequently recurrent and sometimes antimycotic-refractory infection in women.