K88 and F18 fimbrial enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) are the major causes of post-weaning diarrhea (PWD) in pigs. A vaccine that induces broad immunity to prevent K88 and F18 fimbrial ETEC bacterial attachment and colonization in pig small intestines and to neutralize enterotoxin enterotoxicity would be effective for PWD. Structure-based multiepitope-fusion-antigen (MEFA) technology using a backbone immunogen to present neutralizing epitopes of representing virulence factors capacitates development of broadly protective ETEC vaccines. Neutralizing epitopes have been identified from K88 fimbrial adhesin (FaeG) and enterotoxins but not F18 fimbrial adhesin. In this study, we in silico identified immunodominant epitopes from F18ac fimbrial subunit FedF which plays a critical role in F18 fimbrial adherence, genetically fused each epitope to a carrier, examined immunogenicity of each epitope fusion, and determined epitope-derived antibodies neutralizing activities against F18 fimbrial adherence. Data showed that seven immune-dominant epitopes were identified from FedF subunit. Fused to heterologous human ETEC adhesin subunit CfaB, epitope fusions induced anti-F18 antibodies in subcutaneously immunized mice. Moreover, antibodies derived from each fusion significantly blocked adherence of a F18-fimbrial E. coli bacteria to pig intestinal cell line IPEC-J2. While all seven epitopes exhibited neutralizing activity, results from this study identified FedF epitopes #3 (IPSSSGTLTCQAGT) and #7 (QPDATGSWYD) the most effective for antibodies against F18 fimbrial adherence, and suggested their future application in PWD vaccine development.
- ETEC (enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli)
- Neutralizing epitope
- PWD (post-weaning diarrhea)
ASJC Scopus subject areas