Peptide mimic of phosphorylcholine, a dominant epitope found on Streptococcus pneumoniae

Academic Article


  • Even in the age of antibiotics, Streptococcus pneumoniae causes significant morbidity, especially in the young, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. While a carbohydrate-based vaccine exists, it is poorly immunogenic in the at-risk populations. In mice, antibodies directed against phosphorylcholine (PC), an epitope present on the cell wall C polysaccharide of all pneumococcal serotypes, protect against infection. However, PC itself is a poor vaccine candidate. We report here peptide mimics of PC based on the anti-idiotypic interaction of T15 anti-PC antibodies. T15 antibodies, the dominant and protective idiotype induced in mice by PC immunization, self-associate via a 24-amino-acid region in the PC binding site (ASRNKANDYTTEYSASVKGRFIVS; peptide 1). Peptide 1 has been shown to bind in the PC binding site. We demonstrated that amino acid sequences derived from peptide 1 starting at amino acid 9, 11, or 13 inhibit PC binding. Therefore, we immunized mice with bovine serum albumin (BSA) conjugates of peptide 1 or either of two selected 12-mers. The 12-mer peptides were not immunogenic. Mice immunized with peptide 1-BSA developed an anti-PC response consisting mainly immunoglobulin G1 and expressed the T15 heavy chain. Nonetheless, neither BALB/c nor CBA/N mice were protected from lethal pneumococcal infections by immunization with peptide 1-BSA. Preliminary data suggest that peptide 1-BSA is not able to elicit the canonical T15 light chain, explaining the absence of protection. This idiotype-derived mimotope of PC is a useful tool for understanding immunologic cross-reactivity and learning to design T-cell-dependent vaccines for S. pneumoniae.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Harris SL; Park MK; Nahm MH; Diamond B
  • Start Page

  • 5778
  • End Page

  • 5784
  • Volume

  • 68
  • Issue

  • 10