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  1. Abstract

    Here we describe a facile and robust genetic selection for isolating full-length IgG antibodies from combinatorial libraries expressed in the cytoplasm of redox-engineeredEscherichia colicells. The method is based on the transport of a bifunctional substrate comprised of an antigen fused to chloramphenicol acetyltransferase, which allows positive selection of bacterial cells co-expressing cytoplasmic IgGs called cyclonals that specifically capture the chimeric antigen and sequester the antibiotic resistance marker in the cytoplasm. The utility of this approach is first demonstrated by isolating affinity-matured cyclonal variants that specifically bind their cognate antigen, the leucine zipper domain of a yeast transcriptional activator, with subnanomolar affinities, which represent a ~20-fold improvement over the parental IgG. We then use the genetic assay to discover antigen-specific cyclonals from a naïve human antibody repertoire, leading to the identification of lead IgG candidates with affinity and specificity for an influenza hemagglutinin-derived peptide antigen.

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  2. Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is the primary etiologic agent of traveler’s diarrhea and a major cause of diarrheal disease and death worldwide, especially in infants and young children. Despite significant efforts over the past several decades, an affordable vaccine that appreciably decreases mortality and morbidity associated with ETEC infection among children under the age of 5 years remains an unmet aspirational goal. Here, we describe robust, cost-effective biosynthetic routes that leverage glycoengineered strains of non-pathogenic E. coli or their cell-free extracts for producing conjugate vaccine candidates against two of the most prevalent O serogroups of ETEC, O148 and O78. Specifically, we demonstrate site-specific installation of O-antigen polysaccharides (O-PS) corresponding to these serogroups onto licensed carrier proteins using the oligosaccharyltransferase PglB from Campylobacter jejuni. The resulting conjugates stimulate strong O-PS-specific humoral responses in mice and elicit IgG antibodies that possess bactericidal activity against the cognate pathogens. We also show that one of the prototype conjugates decorated with serogroup O148 O-PS reduces ETEC colonization in mice, providing evidence of vaccine-induced mucosal protection. We anticipate that our bacterial cell-based and cell-free platforms will enable creation of multivalent formulations with the potential for broad ETEC serogroup protection and increased access through low-cost biomanufacturing. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 2, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Engineered outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) derived from Gram-negative bacteria are a promising technology for the creation of non-infectious, nanoparticle vaccines against diverse pathogens. However, antigen display on OMVs can be difficult to control and highly variable due to bottlenecks in protein expression and localization to the outer membrane of the host cell, especially for bulky and/or complex antigens. Here, we describe a universal approach for avidin-based vaccine antigen crosslinking (AvidVax) whereby biotinylated antigens are linked to the exterior of OMVs whose surfaces are remodeled with multiple copies of a synthetic antigen-binding protein (SNAP) comprised of an outer membrane scaffold protein fused to a biotin-binding protein. We show that SNAP-OMVs can be readily decorated with a molecularly diverse array of biotinylated subunit antigens, including globular and membrane proteins, glycans and glycoconjugates, haptens, lipids, and short peptides. When the resulting OMV formulations are injected in mice, strong antigen-specific antibody responses are observed that depend on the physical coupling between the antigen and SNAP-OMV delivery vehicle. Overall, these results demonstrate AvidVax as a modular platform that enables rapid and simplified assembly of antigen-studded OMVs for application as vaccines against pathogenic threats.

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  4. Abstract

    The ability to reconstitute natural glycosylation pathways or prototype entirely new ones from scratch is hampered by the limited availability of functional glycoenzymes, many of which are membrane proteins that fail to express in heterologous hosts. Here, we describe a strategy for topologically converting membrane-bound glycosyltransferases (GTs) into water soluble biocatalysts, which are expressed at high levels in the cytoplasm of living cells with retention of biological activity. We demonstrate the universality of the approach through facile production of 98 difficult-to-express GTs, predominantly of human origin, across several commonly used expression platforms. Using a subset of these water-soluble enzymes, we perform structural remodeling of both free and protein-linked glycans including those found on the monoclonal antibody therapeutic trastuzumab. Overall, our strategy for rationally redesigning GTs provides an effective and versatile biosynthetic route to large quantities of diverse, enzymatically active GTs, which should find use in structure-function studies as well as in biochemical and biomedical applications involving complex glycomolecules.

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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Cell-free gene expression (CFE) systems from crude cellular extracts have attracted much attention for biomanufacturing and synthetic biology. However, activating membrane-dependent functionality of cell-derived vesicles in bacterial CFE systems has been limited. Here, we address this limitation by characterizing native membrane vesicles in Escherichia coli- based CFE extracts and describing methods to enrich vesicles with heterologous, membrane-bound machinery. As a model, we focus on bacterial glycoengineering. We first use multiple, orthogonal techniques to characterize vesicles and show how extract processing methods can be used to increase concentrations of membrane vesicles in CFE systems. Then, we show that extracts enriched in vesicle number also display enhanced concentrations of heterologous membrane protein cargo. Finally, we apply our methods to enrich membrane-bound oligosaccharyltransferases and lipid-linked oligosaccharides for improving cell-free N- linked and O -linked glycoprotein synthesis. We anticipate that these methods will facilitate on-demand glycoprotein production and enable new CFE systems with membrane-associated activities. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Conjugate vaccines are among the most effective methods for preventing bacterial infections. However, existing manufacturing approaches limit access to conjugate vaccines due to centralized production and cold chain distribution requirements. To address these limitations, we developed a modular technology for in vitro conjugate vaccine expression (iVAX) in portable, freeze-dried lysates from detoxified, nonpathogenic Escherichia coli. Upon rehydration, iVAX reactions synthesize clinically relevant doses of conjugate vaccines against diverse bacterial pathogens in 1 hour. We show that iVAX-synthesized vaccines against Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis (type A) strain Schu S4 protected mice from lethal intranasal F. tularensis challenge. The iVAX platform promises to accelerate development of new conjugate vaccines with increased access through refrigeration-independent distribution and portable production. 
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