Synthetic Conjugate Peptide Fba-Met6 (MP12) Induces Complement-Mediated Resistance Against Disseminated Candida Albicans

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The fungal genus Candida includes common commensals of the human mucosal membranes, and the most prevalently isolated species, C. albicans, poses a threat of candidemia and disseminated infection associated with an unacceptably high mortality rate and an immense $4 billion burden (US) yearly. Nevertheless, the demand for a vaccine remains wholly unfulfilled and increasingly pressing. We developed a double-peptide construct that is feasible for use in humans with the intention of preventing morbid infection by targeting epitopes derived from fructose bisphosphate aldolase (Fba) and methionine synthase (Met6) which are expressed on the C. albicans cell surface. To test the applicability of the design, we vaccinated mice via the intramuscular (IM) route with the conjugate denoted Fba-Met6 MP12 and showed that the vaccine enhanced survival against a lethal challenge. Because overall endpoint IgG1 and IgG2a antibody titers were robust and these mouse subclasses are associated with protective functionality, we investigated the potential of Fba and Met6 specific antibodies to facilitate the well-defined anti-Candida response by complement, which opsonizes fungi for degradation by primary effectors. Notably, reductions in the fungal burdens and enhanced survival were both abrogated in MP12-vaccinated mice that were pre-challenge dosed with cobra venom factor (CVF), a complement depleting factor. Altogether, we demonstrated that complement is relevant to MP12-based protection against disseminated C. albicans, delineating that a novel, multivalent targeted vaccine against proteins on the surface of C. albicans can enhance the natural response to infection.

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