Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Neisseria meningitidis is a human-specific pathogen and leading cause of meningitis and septicemia. Factor H binding protein (fHbp), a virulence factor which protects N. meningitidis from innate immunity by binding the human complement regulator factor H (fH) with high affinity, is also a key antigen in vaccines being developed to prevent meningococcal disease. fHbp can be divided into three variant groups (V1, V2, and V3) that elicit limited immunological cross-reactivity. The interaction of fH with fHbp could impair the immunogenicity of this antigen by hindering access to the antigenic epitopes in fHbp, providing the rationale for the development of nonfunctional fHbps as vaccine candidates. Here, we characterized the two nonfunctional V3 fHbps, fHbp(T286A) and fHbp(E313A), which each contains a single amino acid substitution that leads to a marked reduction in affinity for fH without affecting the folding of the proteins. The immunogenicity of the nonfunctional fHbps was assessed in transgenic mice expressing a single chimeric fH containing domains of human fH involved in binding to fHbp. No differences in anti-V3 fHbp antibody titers were elicited by the wild-type V3 fHbp, V3 fHbp(T286A), and V3 fHbp(E313A), demonstrating that the nonfunctional fHbps retain their immunogenicity. Furthermore, the nonfunctional V3 fHbps elicit serum bactericidal activity that is equivalent to or higher than that observed with the wild-type protein. Our findings provide the basis for the rational design of next-generation vaccines containing nonfunctional V3 fHbps.

Original publication




Journal article


Infect Immun

Publication Date





1157 - 1163


Amino Acid Substitution, Animals, Antibodies, Bacterial, Antigens, Bacterial, Bacterial Proteins, Epitopes, Meningococcal Infections, Meningococcal Vaccines, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Neisseria meningitidis, Protein Binding