Mapping the neutralizing epitopes of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli K88 (F4) fimbrial adhesin and major subunit FaeG

Ti Lu, Rodney A. Moxley, Weiping Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strains that produce immunologically heterogeneous fimbriae and enterotoxins are the primary cause of neonatal diarrhea and postweaning diarrhea in young pigs. A multivalent vaccine inducing protective immunity against ideally all ETEC fimbriae and enterotoxins could be effective against diarrhea in young pigs. However, developing a vaccine to broadly protect against various ETEC virulence determinants has proven challenging. Recently developed structure- and epitope-based multiepitope fusion antigen (MEFA) technology that presents neutralizing epitopes of various virulence determinants at a backbone immunogen and that mimics epitope native immunogenicity suggests the feasibility of developing multivalent vaccines. With neutralizing epitopes from ETEC fimbria F18 and enterotoxins being identified, it becomes urgent to identify protective epitopes of K88 (F4) fimbriae, which play a major role in pig neonatal and postweaning diarrhea. In this study, we identified B-cell immunodominant epitopes in silico from the K88ac fimbrial major subunit (also adhesin) FaeG and embedded each epitope in a heterogeneous carrier for epitope fusions. We then immunized mice with each epitope fusion protein and examined epitope antigenicity and also neutralizing activities of epitope-induced antibodies. Data showed that while all nine FaeG epitope fusions induced antibodies to K88ac fimbria, anti-K88 IgG antibodies derived from epitopes MTGDFNGSVD (ep1), LNDLTNGGTK (ep2), GRTKEAFATP (ep3), ELRKPDGGTN (ep4), PMKNAGGTKVGAVKVN (ep5), and RENMEYTDGT (ep8) significantly inhibited adherence of K88ac fimbrial bacteria to porcine intestinal cell line IPEC-J2, indicating that these peptides were the neutralizing epitopes of K88ac fimbrial major subunit FaeG and suggesting the future application of FaeG epitopes in ETEC vaccine development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00329-19
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli
  • FaeG
  • K88 (F4)
  • Neutralizing epitope
  • Postweaning diarrhea
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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