The proposal is aimed at continuing Dr. Briles' research efforts in the study of pneumococcal surface antigens. The application focuses on the first cell-associated protein described, PspA, as well as a second newly discovered protein, PspC. These two proteins may serve as vaccines themselves or as protein carriers for capsular polysaccharide-protein conjugates. PspA is present on all pneumococcal strains and can elicit protective immunity against sepsis and nasopharyngeal carriage in mice. PspC is related to PspA, but larger in size, and shows virtual identity with PspA in its C-terminal half.
<P>The proposed studies will determine whether PspC is a virulence factor and whether it can elicit protection. The relative roles of PspA and PspC in virulence and carriage in nonimmune animals will be examined. In addition, the relative roles of immunity against PspA and PspC in carriage, sepsis, and spread of pneumococci from the nasopharynx will be explored. The ability of human antibody to these molecules to protect mice from infection will be evaluated. Cross-reactive regions between the PspA and PspC proteins will be identified as well as the regions of each molecule most useful as a vaccine. Immunity to PspA and PspC will be evaluated to determine whether it involves opsonization, blocks virulence functions, or acts by other mechanisms. The data obtained will assist with the development of correlates of protective immunity for PspA and PspC that can be applied to vaccine development.