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A mutant pertussis toxin molecule that lacks ADP-ribosyltransferase activity, PT-9K/129G, is an effective mucosal adjuvant for intranasally delivered proteins.

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  • Research Article


We examined the capacity of a genetically detoxified derivative of pertussis toxin (PTX), PT-9K/129G, to act as a mucosal adjuvant for an intranasally (i.n.) administered tetanus vaccine. Groups of mice were immunized i.n. with the nontoxic C-terminal 50-kDa portion of tetanus toxin (fragment C [Frg C]) either alone or mixed with PT-9K/129G, PTX, or cholera toxin (CT) or were immunized subcutaneously (s.c.) with an equivalent amount of Frg C adsorbed to alhydrogel. In response to a single immunization, mice receiving Frg C plus PT-9K/129G or CT i.n. and parenterally immunized mice developed high-titer (> 20,000) anti-Frg C antibodies, whereas mice immunized i.n. with Frg C plus PTX or with Frg C alone seroconverted only after being boosted. The serum anti-Frg C response was dominated by immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) in mice immunized with Frg C plus PT-9K/129G, with Frg C plus PTX, or s.c. In contrast, IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b contributed almost equally to the Frg C response when CT was the adjuvant. Anti-Frg C IgE was detected only in the sera of mice immunized i.n. with Frg C plus PTX and immunized s.c. with Frg C plus alhydrogel. High levels of IgA antibodies were present in nasal lavage fluid from mice immunized i.n. with Frg C plus PT-9K/129G, PTX, or CT but not in that from mice given Frg C alone i.n. or parenterally. The mucosal adjuvanticity of PT-9K/129G was manifested in inbred as well as outbred mice. A single i.n. dose of Frg C plus either PT-9K/129G or PTX (with high specific activity) was sufficient to protect all immunized mice from tetanus toxin challenge, in contrast to the case for mice that received Frg C alone i.n. We conclude that the pertussis toxin analog PT-9K/129G, which is devoid of ADP-ribosyltransferase activity, is a potent mucosal adjuvant for vaccines delivered via the respiratory tract.

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