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Protective immunity induced by a DNA vaccine-encoding Toxoplasma gondii microneme protein 11 against acute toxoplasmosis in BALB/c mice


Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most prevalent intracellular parasites and is threatening the health of both humans and animals, therefore causing incalculable economic losses worldwide. Vaccination is thought to be an efficient way of controlling toxoplasmosis. T. gondii microneme protein 11 (MIC11) is a soluble microneme protein which is presumably considered facilitating the early stage of cell invasion. To evaluate the protective efficacy of T. gondii MIC11, in the present study, a new DNA vaccine-encoding the α-chain of T. gondii MIC11 was constructed using the pcDNA3.1 vector. Expression of MIC11 from this vector was confirmed by indirect immunofluorescence assay following transfection into baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells. Intramuscular immunization of BALB/c mice with pcDNA/MIC11 was carried out to evaluate the immune responses by serum antibodies titers, lymphoproliferation assay, and cytokines assay. The protective efficacy was evaluated by survival rate in mice after challenging with highly virulent strain of T. gondii. The results demonstrated that this vaccination elicited significant humoral responses and T. gondii lysate antigen (TLA)-stimulated lymphoproliferation (p < 0.05). Compared to controls, the pcDNA/MIC11 immunized mice had high production of IFN-γ, IL-12, and IL-2 (p < 0.05), but not IL-4 (p > 0.05), indicating that a predominant Th1 type response was developed. The vaccination also increased the survival rate of immunized mice when they were challenged with a lethal dose of tachyzoites of T. gondii RH strain. These data suggest that T. gondii MIC11 is a reasonable vaccine candidate deserving further studies, and pcDNA/MIC11 is a potential strategy for the control of toxoplasmosis.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, Grant No. 30800818 and 31101808) and by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 2012ZYTS051). We thank our colleagues in State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology for their support in making these experiments successful. We also acknowledge Dr. Bang Shen (Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA) for his critical reading and comments on this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yanqin Zhou or Junlong Zhao.

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Tao, Q., Fang, R., Zhang, W. et al. Protective immunity induced by a DNA vaccine-encoding Toxoplasma gondii microneme protein 11 against acute toxoplasmosis in BALB/c mice. Parasitol Res 112, 2871–2877 (2013).

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  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Immunize Mouse
  • Baby Hamster Kidney Cell
  • Lymphocyte Proliferation Assay
  • MIC11 Gene