Second-generation Flagellin-rPAc Fusion Protein, KFD2-rPAc, Shows High Protective Efficacy against Dental Caries with Low Potential Side Effects
<p id="Par1">Dental caries is one of the most common global chronic diseases affecting all ages of the population; thus a vaccine against caries is urgently needed. Our previous studies demonstrated that a fusion protein, KF-rPAc, in which rPAc of S. mutans is directly fused to the C-terminal of E. coli-derived flagellin (KF), could confer high prophylactic and therapeutic efficiency against caries. However, possible side effects, including the high antigenicity of flagellin and possible inflammatory injury induced by flagellin, may restrict its clinical usage. Here, we produced a second-generation flagellin-rPAc fusion protein, KFD2-rPAc, by replacing the main antigenicity region domains D2 and D3 of KF with rPAc. Compared with KF-rPAc, KFD2-rPAc has lower TLR5 agonist efficacy and induces fewer systemic inflammatory responses in mice. After intranasal immunization, KFD2-rPAc induces significantly lower flagellin-specific antibody responses but a comparable level of rPAc-specific antibody responses in mice. More importantly, in rat challenge models, KFD2-rPAc induces a robust rPAc-specific IgA response, and confers efficient prophylactic and therapeutic efficiency against caries as does KF-rPAc, while the flagellin-specific antibody responses are highly reduced. In conclusion, low side effects and high protective efficiency against caries makes the second-generation flagellin-rPAc fusion protein, KFD2-rPAc, a promising vaccine candidate against caries.