Structure of RiVax: a recombinant ricin vaccine

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RiVax is a recombinant protein that is currently under clinical development as part of a human vaccine to protect against ricin poisoning. RiVax includes ricin A‐chain (RTA) residues 1–267 with two intentional amino‐acid substitutions, V76M and Y80A, aimed at reducing toxicity. Here, the crystal structure of RiVax was solved to 2.1 Å resolution and it was shown that it is superposable with that of the ricin toxin A‐chain from Ricinus communis with a root‐mean‐square deviation of 0.6 Å over 258 Cα atoms. The RiVax structure is also compared with the recently determined structure of another potential ricin‐vaccine immunogen, RTA 1–33/44–198 R48C/T77C. Finally, the locations and solvent‐exposure of two toxin‐neutralizing B‐cell epitopes were examined and it was found that these epitopes are within or near regions predicted to be involved in catalysis. The results demonstrate the composition of the RiVax clinical material and will guide ongoing protein‐engineering strategies to develop improved immunogens.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2011

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