A “suicide” BCG strain provides enhanced immunogenicity and robust protection against Mycobacterium tuberculosis in macaques

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Intravenous (IV) BCG delivery provides robust protection against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) in macaques but poses safety challenges. Here, we constructed two BCG strains (BCG-TetON-DL and BCG-TetOFF-DL) in which tetracyclines regulate two phage lysin operons. Once the lysins are expressed, these strains are cleared in immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice, yet induced similar immune responses and provided similar protection against Mtb challenge as wild type BCG. Lysin induction resulted in release of intracellular BCG antigens and enhanced cytokine production by macrophages. In macaques, cessation of doxycycline administration resulted in rapid elimination of BCG-TetOFF-DL. However, IV BCG-TetOFF-DL induced increased pulmonary CD4 T cell responses compared to WT BCG and provided robust protection against Mtb challenge, with sterilizing immunity in 6 of 8 macaques, compared to 2 of 8 macaques immunized with WT BCG. Thus, a “suicide” BCG strain provides an additional measure of safety when delivered intravenously and robust protection against Mtb infection.

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  1. William Jacobs

    Review 4: "A "suicide" BCG Strain provides Enhanced Immunogenicity and Robust Protection against Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in Macaques"

    Reviewers suggested modifying the title to highlight safety and comparable protection, verifying statistical calculations, providing supplementary data, and conducting further experiments to support conclusions.