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Publication - Dr Darryl Hill

    Bioinformatic analysis of meningococcal Msf and Opc to inform vaccine antigen design


    Andreae, C, Sessions, R, Virji, M & Hill, D, 2018, ‘Bioinformatic analysis of meningococcal Msf and Opc to inform vaccine antigen design’. PLoS ONE, vol 13.


    Neisseria meningitidis is an antigenically and genetically variable Gram-negative bacterium and a causative agent of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia. Meningococci encode many outer membrane proteins, including Opa, Opc, Msf, fHbp and NadA, identified as being involved in colonisation of the host and evasion of the immune response. Although vaccines are available for the prevention of some types of meningococcal disease, none currently offer universal protection. We have used sequences within the Neisseria PubMLST database to determine the variability of msf and opc in 6,500 isolates. In-silico analysis revealed that although opc is highly conserved, it is not present in all isolates, with most isolates in clonal complex ST-11 lacking a functional opc. In comparison, msf is found in all meningococcal isolates, and displays diversity in the N-terminal domain. We identified 20 distinct Msf sequence variants (Msf SV), associated with differences in number of residues within the putative Vn binding motifs. Moreover, we showed distinct correlations with certain Msf SVs and isolates associated with either hyperinvasive lineages or those clonal complexes associated with a carriage state. We have demonstrated differences in Vn binding between three Msf SVs and generated a cross reactive Msf polyclonal antibody. Our study has highlighted the importance of using large datasets to inform vaccine development and provide further information on the antigenic diversity exhibited by N. meningitidis.

    Full details in the University publications repository