Cell mediated immune response elicited in mice after immunization with the P64k meningococcal protein: epitope mapping.
Studying outer membrane proteins as vaccine candidates, our group has previously isolated, cloned, and expressed in Escherichia coli the gene encoding for a high molecular weight protein (P64k), common to many meningococcal strains. To continue the characterisation of this meningococcal antigen, we have evaluated its immunogenicity in mice alone or combined with several commercially-available adjuvants. We used as an adjuvant aluminium hydroxide (Alhydrogel and Rehydragel), aluminium phosphate, Algammulin, crude saponin, the saponin Quil A, dimethyl-dioctadecyl ammonium bromide (DDA), Freund's adjuvant, and Montanide 888. The antibody titres against the recombinant protein and whole meningococci elicited with these adjuvants were compared. We found that Quil A produced the highest titres against the recombinant P64k. Algammulin and the quaternary ammonium compound DDA induced the highest levels of antibodies against meningococci. We analysed the recognition of a set of linear peptides by antisera prepared against the protein combined with some of the adjuvants. The responses depended on the adjuvant used and the results have been confirmed by epitope mapping using overlapping peptides synthesised on pins.