Novel meningococcal 4CMenB vaccine antigens – prevalence and polymorphisms of the encoding genes in Neisseria gonorrhoeae
The first cross‐protective Neisseria meningitidis vaccine (focus on serogroup B), the protein‐based 4 component meningococcus serogroup B (4CMenB), includes the New Zealand outer membrane vesicle and three main genome‐derived neisserial antigens (GNAs). These
GNAs are fHbp (fused to GNA2091), NHBA (fused to GNA1030) and NadA. In this study, the prevalence and polymorphisms of the nucleotide and amino acid sequences of the 4CMenB antigens in a temporally and geographically diverse collection of N. gonorrhoeae isolates
(n = 111) were investigated. All the examined GNA genes, except the nadA gene, were present in all gonococcal isolates. However, 25 isolates contained premature stop codons in the fHbp gene and/or the nhba gene, resulting in truncated
proteins. Compared with the 4CMenB antigen sequences in reference strain MC58, the gonococcal strains displayed 67.0–95.4% and 60.9–94.9% identity in nucleotide sequence and amino acid sequence, respectively, in the equivalent GNA antigens. The absence of NadA, lack of universal
expression of fHbp and NHBA and the uncertainty regarding the surface exposure of fHbp as well as the function of NHBA in N. gonorrhoeae will likely limit the use of the identical 4CMenB antigens in a gonococcal vaccine. However, possible cross‐immunity
of 4CMenB with gonococci and expression and function of the equivalent gonococcal GNAs, as well as of more appropriate GNAs for a gonococcal vaccine, need to be further examined.