Because of its location on the sperm surface and its multiple functions during fertilization, the PH-20 protein is a potential target for contraceptive vaccines. Cynomolgus macaques were immunized using four different adjuvants together with synthesized peptides or recombinant proteins representing selected regions of macaque PH-20. The synthesized peptide (amino acids 387-412, designated Peptide 4) was used as a linear molecule in a 1:1 ratio with a peptide sequence of tetanus toxoid, as well as a multiple antigenic peptide (MAP) matrix held together by scaffolding lysine residues. In the MAP construct, the ratio of Peptide 4 to tetanus peptide was 4:1. To circumvent the poor production of recombinant PH-20 in bacterial cells, two truncated forms of the molecule were expressed in Escherichia coli, G18 (encoding amino acids 143-510) and E10 (encoding amino acids 291-510). The adjuvants were Montanide ISA 51, Titermax Gold, Syntex adjuvant formulation (SAF), and QS-21. All of the antigen/adjuvant combinations produced significant immune responses as measured by ELISA. The circulating antibodies from immunized animals recognized macaque sperm surface PH-20 on Western blots and were shown by indirect immunofluorescence to bind to the surface of macaque sperm. Montanide and Titermax were associated with higher titers of anti-PH-20 antibodies than QS-21 and SAF adjuvants. Immunization with Titermax, however, resulted in sterile abscesses in 4 of 8 animals injected. We conclude that antigens derived from synthesized peptides and recombinant proteins representing selected regions of the PH-20 molecule can be used as vaccine components in combination with the adjuvant Montanide to elicit a significant sperm-directed antibody response in immunized macaques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Reproductive Medicine