Interactions of Teladorsagia circumcincta with the ovine immune system : mimicry and vaccine development
Ellis, Samantha Emma Elizabeth
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Teladorsagia circumcincta, an economically-important abomasal nematode of small ruminants in temperate regions worldwide, is currently controlled with a combination of anthelmintics and pasture management. Anthelmintic resistance has emerged and vaccination is a potential alternative control strategy, as protective immunity in sheep can be acquired after repeated exposure to the parasite. Abomasal mucosal IgA responses in immune sheep have been correlated with delayed worm development and reduced faecal egg counts. However, recombinant vaccine development against parasitic nematodes has had limited success, and one of the reasons may be unsuitable expression systems for antigen production leading to incomplete or inadequate post-translational modifications such as glycosylation and tertiary protein folding, resulting in incorrect epitope structures for antibody binding. In this thesis, to address this issue, “native” infective larval (L3) antigen targets of protective immune responses and synthetic peptide sequences which mimic structural epitopes on these antigens were identified. Abomasal mucosal IgA was used as a probe to identify native immunogenic antigens from T. circumcincta L3. IgA was purified from abomasal mucus of animals rendered immune by repeated experimental infection and a custom antibody-affinity column was created and used to purify antigens from an L3 somatic PBS-soluble extract. Affinity purified L3-antigen-specific IgA levels in sheep with varying levels of immunity to T. circumcincta were positively correlated (rs = 0.853, P < 0.001) with both the total IgA concentration in efferent gastric lymph after parasite challenge, and with the percentage of inhibited fourth-stage (L4) larvae present in the gastric glands of the immune hosts (rs = 0.534, P = 0.007). In contrast, a negative correlation between the levels of affinity-purified L3 antigen-specific IgA and total T. circumcincta burden was observed (rs = -0.565, P = 0.004). Proteomic analysis of the IgA-affinity purified L3 extract identified a number of proteins which represent potential vaccine candidate molecules in other helminth species, including paramyosin, superoxide dismutase, galectin, activation-associated secreted proteins and fatty-acid retinol-binding proteins. As a first step towards the development of a novel vaccine based on IgA-binding peptide mimics of native structural epitopes, phage display libraries were used to screen antibodies, from sheep rendered immune to T. circumcincta by experimental infection. These antibodies were affinity-purified before use and specifically bound T. circumcincta L3 glycans or, alternatively, surface antigens on exsheathed T. circumcincta L3. Five peptide sequences which mimic L3 antigenic epitopes were identified and positive correlations existed between peptide-specific IgA levels and both the total IgA concentration in efferent gastric lymph after parasite challenge and the percentage of inhibited L4 present (rs > 0.621, P < 0.001 to P < 0.05). In contrast, negative correlations between the levels of peptide-specific IgA and the total nematode burden were observed (rs > -0.528, P < 0.01 to P < 0.05). In conclusion, the selected phage clones may therefore represent vaccine candidates if they could be presented to the ovine immune system in an appropriate fashion.