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Open Access Open Badges Research article

In silico and microarray-based genomic approaches to identifying potential vaccine candidates against Leptospira interrogans

Hong-Liang Yang1, Yong-Zhang Zhu12, Jin-Hong Qin1, Ping He1, Xu-Cheng Jiang3, Guo-Ping Zhao4* and Xiao-Kui Guo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of medicine. 200025 Shanghai, PR China

2 Institute of Medical Biology, PeKing Union Medical College & Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. 650118 Kunming, PR China

3 Department of Pathology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of medicine. 200025 Shanghai, PR China

4 Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 200032 Shanghai, PR China

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:293  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-293

Published: 16 November 2006



Currently available vaccines against leptospirosis are of low efficacy, have an unacceptable side-effect profile, do not induce long-term protection, and provide no cross-protection against the different serovars of pathogenic leptospira. The current major focus in leptospirosis research is to discover conserved protective antigens that may elicit longer-term protection against a broad range of Leptospira. There is a need to screen vaccine candidate genes in the genome of Leptospira interrogans.


Bioinformatics, comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) analysis and transcriptional analysis were used to identify vaccine candidates in the genome of L. interrogans serovar Lai strain #56601. Of a total of 4727 open reading frames (ORFs), 616 genes were predicted to encode surface-exposed proteins by P-CLASSIFIER combined with signal peptide prediction, α-helix transmembrane topology prediction, integral β-barrel outer membrane protein and lipoprotein prediction, as well as by retaining the genes shared by the two sequenced L. interrogans genomes and by subtracting genes with human homologues. A DNA microarray of L. interrogans strain #56601 was constructed for CGH analysis and transcriptome analysis in vitro. Three hundred and seven differential genes were identified in ten pathogenic serovars by CGH; 1427 genes had high transcriptional levels (Cy3 signal ≥ 342 and Cy5 signal ≥ 363.5, respectively). There were 565 genes in the intersection between the set encoding surface-exposed proteins and the set of 307 differential genes. The number of genes in the intersection between this set of 565 and the set of 1427 highly transcriptionally active genes was 226. These 226 genes were thus identified as putative vaccine candidates. The proteins encoded by these genes are not only potentially surface-exposed in the bacterium, but also conserved in two sequenced L. interrogans. Moreover, these genes are conserved among ten epidemic serovars in China and have high transcriptional levels in vitro.


Of the 4727 ORFs in the genome of L. interrogans, 226 genes were identified as vaccine candidates by bioinformatics, CGH and transcriptional analysis on the basis of the theory of reverse vaccinology. The proteins encoded by these genes might be useful as vaccine candidates as well as for diagnosis of leptospirosis.