Characterization of the Burkholderia mallei tonB mutant and its potential as a backbone strain for vaccine development

Tiffany M. Mott, Sudhamathi Vijayakumar, Elena Sbrana, Janice J. Endsley, Alfredo G. Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In this study, a Burkholderia mallei tonB mutant (TMM001) deficient in iron acquisition was constructed, characterized, and evaluated for its protective properties in acute inhalational infection models of murine glanders and melioidosis. Methodology/Principal Findings Compared to the wild-type, TMM001 exhibits slower growth kinetics, siderophore hypersecretion and the inability to utilize heme-containing proteins as iron sources. A series of animal challenge studies showed an inverse correlation between the percentage of survival in BALB/c mice and iron-dependent TMM001 growth. Upon evaluation of TMM001 as a potential protective strain against infection, we found 100% survival following B. mallei CSM001 challenge of mice previously receiving 1.5 x 104 CFU of TMM001. At 21 days post-immunization, TMM001-treated animals showed significantly higher levels of B. malleispecific IgG1, IgG2a and IgM when compared to PBS-treated controls. At 48 h post-challenge, PBS-treated controls exhibited higher levels of serum inflammatory cytokines and more severe pathological damage to target organs compared to animals receiving TMM001. In a cross-protection study of acute inhalational melioidosis with B. pseudomallei, TMM001-treated mice were significantly protected. While wild type was cleared in all B. mallei challenge studies, mice failed to clear TMM001. Conclusions/Significance Although further work is needed to prevent chronic infection by TMM001 while maintaining immunogenicity, our attenuated strain demonstrates great potential as a backbone strain for future vaccine development against both glanders and melioidosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0003863
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 26 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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