Francisella tularensis is the bacterial pathogen that causes tularemia in humans and a number of animals. To date, there is no approved vaccine for this widespread and life-threatening disease. The goal of this study was to identify F. tularensis mutants that can be used in the development of a live attenuated vaccine. We screened F. novicida transposon mutants to identify mutants that exhibited reduced growth in mouse macrophages, as these cells are the preferred host cells of Francisella and an essential component of the innate immune system. This approach yielded 16 F. novicida mutants that were 100-fold more attenuated for virulence in a mouse model than the wild-type parental strain. These mutants were then tested to determine their abilities to protect mice against challenge with high doses of wild-type bacteria. Five of the 16 attenuated mutants (with mutations corresponding to dsbB, FTT0742, pdpB, fumA, and carB in the F. tularensis SCHU S4 strain) provided mice with protection against challenge with high doses (>8 × 105 CFU) of wild-type F. novicida. We believe that these findings will be of use in the design of a vaccine against tularemia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases