Characterisation of alternative expression vectors for recombinant Bacillus Calmette-Guérin as live bacterial delivery systems

BACKGROUND Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is considered a promising live bacterial delivery system. However, several proposals for rBCG vaccines have not progressed, mainly due to the limitations of the available expression systems. OBJECTIVES To obtain a set of mycobacterial vectors using a range of promoters with different strengths based on a standard backbone, previously shown to be stable. METHODS Mycobacterial expression vectors based on the pLA71 vector as backbone, were obtained inserting different promoters (PAN, PaAg, PHsp60, PBlaF* and PL5) and the green fluorescence protein (GFP) as reporter gene, to evaluate features such as their relative strengths, and the in vitro (inside macrophages) and in vivo stability. FINDINGS The relative fluorescence observed with the different vectors showed increasing strength of the promoters: PAN was the weakest in both Mycobacterium smegmatis and BCG and PBlaF* was higher than PHsp60 in BCG. The relative fluorescence observed in a macrophage cell line showed that PBlaF* and PHsp60 were comparable. It was not possible to obtain strains transformed with the extrachromosomal expression vector containing the PL5 in either species. MAIN CONCLUSION We have obtained a set of potentially stable mycobacterial vectors with a arrange of expression levels, to be used in the development of rBCG vaccines.
Keywords
recombinant BCG;  expression vectors;  promoters;  GFP

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Nascimento LV, Santos CC., Leite LCC, Nascimento IP. Characterisation of alternative expression vectors for recombinant Bacillus Calmette-Guérin as live bacterial delivery systems. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz. 2020 May;115:e190347. doi:10.1590/0074-02760190347.
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