IFNγ expression by an attenuated strain of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium improves vaccine efficacy in susceptible TLR4-defective C3H/HeJ mice
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- Al-Ojali, S.M., Tara Moore, C.B., Fernandez-Cabezudo, M.J. et al. Med Microbiol Immunol (2013) 202: 49. doi:10.1007/s00430-012-0248-z
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C3H/HeJ mice carry a mutated allele of TLR4 gene (TLR4d) and thus are hyporesponsive to the lethal effects of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Characteristically, however, the mice are also hypersusceptible to infections, particularly by Gram-negative bacteria such as Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. typhimurium) and are known to be difficult to vaccinate against virulent exposure. This is observed despite the expression of wild-type allele of Nramp1 gene, another important determinant of Salmonella susceptibility. In contrast, C3H/HeN mice (TLR4nNramp1n) express a functional TLR4 protein and are resistant to infection, even by virulent strains of S. typhimurium. In the present study, we describe the immune system-enhancing properties of an attenuated strain of S. typhimurium engineered to express murine IFN-γ. This strain (designated GIDIFN) was able to modulate immune responses following systemic inoculation by upregulating the production of inflammatory mediators (IL-6 and IL-12) and anti-bacterial effector molecules (nitric oxide; NO). Consequently, this led to a more effective control of bacterial proliferation in systemic target organs in both C3H/HeJ and C3H/HeN mice. Although evidence for the enhancement in immune responses could be observed as early as few hours post-inoculation, sustained improvements required 2–3 days to manifest. Vaccination of C3H/HeJ mice with GIDIFN strain, even at low doses, conferred a significantly higher degree of protection against challenge with virulent Salmonella in susceptible C3H/HeJ mice. Our data demonstrate that IFNγ-expressing Salmonella are immunogenic and confer excellent protection against virulent challenge in susceptible C3H/HeJ mice; in addition they may be used as an effective mucosal delivery vectors against virulent infection and for boosting immune responses in immunodeficient hosts.