ACS Chem Biol. 2015 Dec 16. [Epub ahead of print]
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. More than ninety S. pneumoniae serotypes are distinguished based on the structure of their primary targets to the human immune system, the capsular polysaccharides (CPSs). The CPS of the prevalent serotype 4 (ST4) is composed of tetrasaccharide repeating units and is included in existing pneumococcal vaccines. Still, the structural antigenic determinants that are essential for protective immunity, including the role of the rare and labile cyclic trans-(2,3) pyruvate ketal modification, remain largely unknown. Molecular insights will support the design of synthetic subunit oligosaccharide vaccines. Here, we identified the key antigenic determinants of ST4 CPS with the help of pyruvated and non-pyruvated synthetic repeating unit glycans. Glycan arrays revealed oligosaccharide antigens recognized by antibodies in the human reference serum. Selected depyruvated ST4 oligosaccharides were used to formulate neoglycoconjugates and immunologically evaluated in mice. These oligosaccharides were highly immunogenic, but the resulting anti-glycan antibodies showed only limited binding to the natural CPS present on the bacterial surface. Glycan array and surface plasmon resonance analysis of murine polyclonal serum antibodies as well as monoclonal antibodies revealed that terminal sugars are important in directing the immune responses. The pyruvate modification on the oligosaccharide is needed for cross-reactivity with the native CPS. These findings are an important step toward the design of oligosaccharide-based vaccines against S. pneumoniae ST4.
PMID: 26674834 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]