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1. (WO2007005627) TUBERCULOSIS ANTIGEN DETECTION ASSAYS AND VACCINES
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TUBERCULOSIS ANTIGEN DETECTION ASSAYS AND VACCINES

RELATED APPLICATION
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/696,439, filed July 1, 2005, entitled "Tuberculosis Antigen Detection Assays and Vaccines", and claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/717,062, filed September 14, 2005, entitled "Tuberculosis Antigen Detection Assays and Vaccines". The entire teachings of the above applications are incorporated herein by reference.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
The invention was supported, in whole or in part, by a grant, No. TDA30469A from The World Health Organization, and No. NIH AI43529 from the National Institutes of Health. The Government has certain rights in the invention.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
More than one-third of the world population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes the Tuberculosis (TB) disease. Each year, 8 million people become infected with TB, and 2 million people die from the disease. TB significantly affects developing countries and is also becoming an increasing problem in developed areas of the world.
Persons infected with TB can be asymptomatic for a considerable period of time, and can be in a latent stage of the disease. In its active state, the disease is often manifested with an acute inflammation of the lungs, resulting in fever and a nonproductive cough. If untreated, serious complications and death typically result. Present diagnostic assays are often inaccurate, and are unable to distinguish between persons in the latent stage of the disease and those in the active stage. Currently, vaccination with live bacteria is one method for immunizing persons against the disease. However, TB vaccination with certain live bacteria has often been the source of
controversy in some countries, including the United States, and consequently has not been put into widespread use in the U.S. Additionally, current diagnostic tests are many times unable to distinguish between persons who have been immunized, and persons infected with TB.

Effective vaccination and accurate early diagnosis of the disease are important to control the disease. Consequently, a need exists for effective diagnostic assays that detect active infection by the TB bacteria. A further need exits for a vaccine that does not use a live bacteria and provides a protective immunogenic response to the disease.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to isolated polypeptide molecules that have an immunogenic portion of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen, or a variant of the antigen that differs only in conservative substitutions and/or modifications. The antigen has an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, or combination thereof; or an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid molecule having a sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof; the coding region of SEQ ID NO:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof; a complement of SEQ ID NO:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof; or a sequence that hybridizes (e.g., under high stringency conditions) to SEQ ID NO:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof. In one embodiment, the isolated polypeptide molecule stimulates an immunogenic specific Tuberculosis (TB) response in a host or an animal (e.g., human, mouse, pig, goat, monkey). In another embodiment, the present invention includes an isolated polypeptide molecule of an immunogenic portion of a M tuberculosis antigen, wherein the antigen comprises an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid molecule having greater than or equal to about 70% identity (e.g., about 80% identity, 90% identity, about 95% identity) with any one of the sequences recited above. The present invention, in one embodiment, includes an isolated polypeptide molecule, wherein the an amino acid sequence has greater than or equal to about 70% similarity (e.g., about 80% similarity, about 90% similarity, about 95% similarity) to the sequences recited herein.
The present invention further embodies isolated nucleic acid molecules that encode polypeptide molecules that have an immunogenic portion of a M tuberculosis antigen, or a variant of the antigen that differs only in conservative substitutions and/or modifications. The antigen is encoded by a nucleic acid molecule having a sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof; the coding region of SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof; a complement of SEQ ID NO:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof; that hybridizes (e.g., under high stringency conditions) to SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof; or that encodes SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, or combination thereof. The isolated nucleic acid molecule encodes a polypeptide molecule that stimulates an immunogenic specific TB response. The present invention also includes isolated nucleic acid molecules that encode a polypeptide molecule that has an immunogenic portion of a M tuberculosis antigen, wherein the antigen is encoded by a nucleic acid molecule having greater than or equal to about 70 % identity (e.g., about 80% identity, 90% identity, about 95% identity) of the recited sequences. The present invention, in one embodiment, includes isolated nucleic acid molecules that encode polypeptide molecules whose sequence has greater than or equal to about 70% similarity (e.g., about 80% similarity, about 90% similarity, about 95% similarity) to the sequences recited herein.
Yet another embodiment of the invention includes vectors, plasmids and host cells that contain the nucleic acid molecules or encode the polypeptide molecules described herein. The host cell can be any cell including, e.g., E. coli, yeast and mammalian cells. The present invention additionally includes probes that hybridize under stringency conditions (e.g., high or moderate) to a nucleic acid molecules described herein.
The present invention includes antibodies that bind to one or more of the polypeptide molecules described herein. The antibody can be a monoclonal antibody or a polyclonal antibody. The invention also pertains to fusion proteins that comprise one or more the polypeptide molecules described herein (e.g., two polypeptide molecules). In addition to including the polypeptide molecules of the present invention, the fusion protein can also include other M. tuberculosis antigens, including those presented on a MHC Class-2 molecule (e.g., a CD4+ T-cell pathway TB antigen).
The present invention includes methods for stimulating a specific immunogenic TB response in an individual, preventing or reducing the severity of the TB disease, by administering an amount of one or more of the polypeptide molecules or nucleic acid molecules described herein (e.g., in a carrier). In another aspect, the present invention includes compositions (e.g., vaccine compositions or pharmaceutical compositions) having the polypeptide molecules or nucleic acid molecules described herein, in a physiologically acceptable carrier. The composition can also include or can be co-administered with an immune response enhancer (e.g., an adjuvant, another TB antigen, immunostimulatory cytokine or chemokine). Examples of adjuvants include 3D-MPL and QS21. The composition can be formulated in an oil in water emulsion.
The present invention further embodies methods for monitoring treatment of the TB disease in an individual. The methods include detecting the level of one or more M. tuberculosis antigenic polypeptides described herein in a sample from the individual; and comparing the level with a standard. A level of TB antigenic peptides that is higher than the standard indicates ineffective treatment, and a level that is less than or equal to the standard indicates effective treatment. The method of monitoring treatment can also include detecting levels of one or more of the TB antigenic peptides described herein in a sample at one or more time points (e.g., a first or baseline time point, and second time point after commencement of treatment), and comparing the levels at the time points. Increases in the levels of the peptides indicates ineffective treatment, and decrease or no change in the levels indicates effective treatment.
The invention includes method of diagnosing TB disease in an individual by detecting the presence, absence, or levels of one or more of the polypeptide molecules described herein. The diagnostic assays of the present invention also allow one to distinguish between an individual having the active TB disease and immunity to TB. Such a method includes detecting the presence, absence or level of one or more of the polypeptide molecules described herein, and measuring the stimulation of a TB specific immune response in the individual. The absence of the polypeptide molecules in a sample from the individual, and the presence of a TB specific immune response in the individual indicates that the individual has acquired some immunity to the TB disease and not the disease itself. Measuring the stimulation of a TB specific immune response includes measuring cell proliferation, interleukin-12 production, interferon-γ levels, or a combination thereof, in a sample from the individual.
The present invention includes, in an additional embodiment, methods for detecting M. tuberculosis infection in a biological sample, by assessing the presence of one or more of the polypeptide molecules described herein in the sample. The presence of one or more of the molecules indicate the presence of M tuberculosis infection; and the absence of one or more of the molecules indicate the absence of M. tuberculosis infection. In particular, methods include contacting the sample with an antibody (e.g., a detectably labeled antibody) that binds with the polypeptide molecule, sufficiently to allow formation of a complex between the sample and the antibody, to thereby form an antigen-antibody complex; and detecting the antigen-antibody complex. The presence of the complex indicates the presence of M. tuberculosis infection, and the absence of a complex indicates the absence of M. tuberculosis infection. In one aspect, the method further includes contacting the sample with a second antibody specific to the antigen or the antigen-antibody complex. The polypeptide or the antibody can be bound to a solid support, and the biological sample can be urine, blood, sputum, cerebrospinal fluid, or tissue sample.
Methods for detecting M. tuberculosis infection in a biological sample also include contacting the sample with at least two oligonucleotide primers in a polymerase chain reaction, wherein at least one of the oligonucleotide primers (e.g., at least about 10 contiguous bases ) is specific for one or more of the isolated nucleic acid molecules described herein, sufficiently to allow amplification of the primers; and detecting in the sample the amplified nucleic acid sequence. The presence any one of the amplified nucleic acid sequences indicates M. tuberculosis infection, and the absence of any one of the amplified nucleic acid sequences indicates an absence of M. tuberculosis infection. Another method for detecting M. tuberculosis infection in a biological sample includes contacting the sample with one or more oligonucleotide probes (e.g., at least about 15 contiguous bases) specific for the nucleic acid molecule described herein under high stringency conditions, sufficiently to allow hybridization between the sample and the probe; and detecting the nucleic acid molecule that hybridizes to the oligonucleotide probe in the sample. The presence of hybridization of the probe indicates M. tuberculosis infection, and the absence of hybridization indicates an absence of M. tuberculosis infection.
Furthermore, the present invention includes kits for diagnosing the presence or absence of M. tuberculosis infection in a person. The kit comprises one or more reagents for detecting one or more of polypeptide molecules or nucleic acid molecules described herein. The reagents can include those that are used for carrying out an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, a rapid immunochromatographic assay, a flow cytometric analysis, or a radioimmunoassay. Such kits can comprise one or more nucleic acid molecules having a sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination thereof; the complements of said sequences, and nucleic acid sequences that hybridize to a sequence recited in SEQ ID NO:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combination; and a detection reagent. Kits can include other items such as solid supports, and detection agents (e.g., a reporter group like radioisotopes, fluorescent groups, luminescent groups, enzymes, biotin and dye particles; conjugated to a binding agent such as antiimmunoglobulins, Protein G5 Protein A and lectins).
Advantages of the present invention include new methods for preventing or reducing the severity of the TB disease by providing an effective vaccine composition. The assays of the present invention allow simple and easy to administer urine tests to quickly and efficiently distinguish between patients having active TB and those who do not. New vaccine compositions and more effective diagnostic assays will assist in reducing the present worldwide TB problem.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Figs. IA- IG are schematics showing the nucleic acid sequences (in Bold) (SEQ ID NO: 1, 3,

5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, and 31) and corresponding M. tuberculosis polypeptide sequences (in Bold) (SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32) eluted from MHC class 1 molecules from the macrophages of mice infected with the M. tuberculosis bacteria. Also depicted are the putative nucleic acid and polypeptide sequences from M.
tuberculosis having 100% homology to the isolated sequences.
Fig.lH is a table showing M. tuberculosis peptide sequences, SEQ ID Nos: 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, and 26, eluted from MHC class 1 molecules from the macrophages of mice infected with the M. tuberculosis bacteria. The figure also shows The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) annotation, the Swiss-Prot designation, and the protein name.
Fig. 2 is a schematic showing a peptide, SEQ ID NO: 30, in bold, found in the urine of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis, and its corresponding nucleic acid sequence, SEQ ID NO: 29. The figure also shows a DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO: 31) and its corresponding protein sequence (SEQ ID NO: 32) which is a putative molybdopterin biosynthesis protein that is found in M.
tuberculosis and has 100% homology to SEQ ID NO: 30.

Fig. 3 is a schematic showing the protocol used to purify and sequence MHC Class 1 associated peptides isolated from M. tuberculosis-mΪQctQά macrophages.
Fig. 4 is a drawing showing an example of a immunochromatographic assay for the detection of TB antigens of the present invention in a sample.
Fig.5 is a table showing M. tuberculosis peptide sequences, SEQ ID Nos: 34, 38, 42, and 46, found in the urine of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis and the M. tuberculosis donor protein.
Figs. 6A-B are schematics showing the nucleic acid sequence (in Bold and Underline) (SEQ ID NO: 33) and corresponding M. tuberculosis polypeptide sequence (in Bold and Underline) (SEQ ID NO: 34) found in the urine of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. Also depicted are
Homoserine O-acetyltransferase nucleic acid and polypeptide sequences from M. tuberculosis having 100% homology to the isolated sequences (SEQ ID NOs: 35 and 36, respectively), along with a table providing Genomic Research (TIGR) Locus name, primary locus name, the Swiss-Prot designation, putative identification, Gene Symbol, TIGR cellular roles, coordinates, DNA molecule name, gene length, protein length, molecular weight, pi, percent GC, enzyme Commission #, Kingdom, and Family.
Figs. 7A-C are schematics showing the nucleic acid sequence (in Bold and Underline) (SEQ ID NO: 37) and corresponding M. tuberculosis polypeptide sequence (in Bold and Underline) (SEQ ID NO: 38) found in the urine of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. Also depicted are
Chromosome partition protein smc nucleic acid and polypeptide sequences from M. tuberculosis having 100% homology to the isolated sequences (SEQ ID NOs: 39 and 40, respectively), along with a table providing the TIGR Locus name, primary locus name, the Swiss-Prot designation, putative identification, Gene Symbol, TIGR cellular roles, coordinates, DNA molecule name, gene length, protein length, molecular weight, pi, percent GC, enzyme Commission #, Kingdom, and Family.
Figs. 8A-B are schematics showing the nucleic acid sequence (in Bold and Underline) (SEQ

ID NO: 41) and corresponding M. tuberculosis polypeptide sequence (in Bold and Underline) (SEQ ID NO: 42) found in the urine of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. Also depicted are Ornithine carbamoyltransferase nucleic acid and polypeptide sequences from M. tuberculosis having 100% homology to the isolated sequences (SEQ ID NOs: 43 and 44, respectively), along with a table providing the TIGR Locus name, primary locus name, the Swiss-Prot designation, putative identification, Gene Symbol, TIGR cellular roles, coordinates, DNA molecule name, gene length, protein length, molecular weight, pi, percent GC, enzyme Commission #, Kingdom, and Family.
Figs. 9A-B are schematics showing the nucleic acid sequence (in Bold and Underline) (SEQ ID NO: 45) and corresponding M. tuberculosis polypeptide sequence (in Bold and Underline) (SEQ ID NO: 46) found in the urine of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. Also depicted are phosphoadenosine phosphosulfate reductase nucleic acid and polypeptide sequences from M.
tuberculosis having 100% homology to the isolated sequences (SEQ ID NOs: 47 and 48, respectively), along with a table providing the TIGR Locus name, primary locus name, the Swiss-Prot designation, putative identification, Gene Symbol, TIGR cellular roles, coordinates, DNA molecule name, gene length, protein length, molecular weight, pi, percent GC, enzyme Commission #, Kingdom, and Family.
Fig. 10 is a representation of Western Blot showing over-expression and purification of recombinants MTl 694, MT2462 and MT2990 from E. coli lysates from non-induced cultures (lanes 1); E. coli lysates from isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) induced cultures (lanes 2); and purified recombinant proteins (lanes 3), and the molecular weight markers (MWM).
Fig. 11 is a representation of Western Blot showing identification of native MTB 1694 and MT2462 in crude whole M. tuberculosis cell lysate (Lane 1); culture filtrate (CF) proteins (Lane 2); purified recombinant antigen (Lane 3); and molecular weight markers (MWM), wherein antigens were electrophoresed and transferred to nitrocellulose membrane followed by probing with either rabbit anti-MTB 1694 or anti-MT2462 antisera.
Fig. 12A is a bar graph showing the recognition of MT 1694 and MT2452 by proliferative responses expressed as counts per minute (CPM) from healthy PPD (an intradermal skin test response to tuberculosis proteins using a Purified Protein Derivative ) negative (donor 1) and PPD positive (donors 2-5) individuals following stimulation with recombinant antigens (5ug/ml).
Fig. 12B is a bar graph showing the recognition of MT 1694 and MT2452 by IFN-γ production of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy PPD negative (donor 1) and PPD positive (donors 2-5) individuals following stimulation with recombinant antigens (5ug/ml).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION A description of preferred embodiments of the invention follows.
The present invention relates to vaccine compositions and diagnostic assays for the
Tuberculosis (TB) disease. The present invention is based, in part, on the discovery of certain TB antigenic peptides presented on the MHC class 1 macrophage, when a host is infected with the bacteria that causes TB, namely the M. tuberculosis bacteria. MHC class- 1 macrophages are cells that play a role in the CD8+ T-CeIl pathway of the immune response. A second discovery that forms the basis of the present invention is the identification of a TB peptide present in the urine of people infected with active TB. The identity of the specific antigenic TB peptides presented on MHC class 1 cell, and the identity of the TB peptide found in urine of infected patients, provide the polypeptide sequences needed to create effective vaccines and/or diagnostic tests.
TB vaccine compositions of the present invention can include polypeptide sequences or nucleic acid sequences, and, optionally, additional immune enhancing molecules. Hence, the present invention, in part, relates to the specific antigenic TB polypeptide sequences discovered, which are shown in Figs.l, 2, and 5-9 namely, SEQ ID NOs 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48 and combinations thereof. SEQ ID NOs: 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, and 26 were isolated by infecting mice with significant amounts of M tuberculosis bacteria. About two weeks after the mice were infected, the spleen was removed, and MHC class 1 molecules, molecules that present antigens to CD8+ T cells, were separated, in accordance with the methods detailed in Example 1. A number of peptides that were found on MHC class 1 molecules were identified as being of M. tuberculosis origin. SEQ ID NOs: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, and 27, the nucleic acid sequences that encode these identified polypeptides, are also shown in Fig. IA-H.
SEQ ID NO: 30, MVIIELMRR, is a peptide found the in urine of persons with pulmonary TB, and this sequence has 100% homology with a M. tuberculosis biosynthesis protein, SEQ ID NO: 32, shown in Fig. 2. The nucleic acid sequence, SEQ ID NO: 31, that encodes this protein is also shown. Additionally, Figs. 5-9 show SEQ ID NOs: 34, 38, 42, and 46 that were also found in the urine of persons with pulmonary TB, and have 100% homology with SEQ ID NOs: 36, 40, 44, and 48, respectively. The methods used to identify these TB protein in the urine of patients infected with active TB are described in Example 2.

Accordingly, the present invention relates to these sequences, SEQ ID NO: 1-48, that have been identified as being useful in eliciting a protective immune response against TB, and for diagnostic assays for identifying persons with active TB.

Polypeptides and Their Function
The present invention relates to isolated polypeptide molecules that have been isolated including antigenic portions of TB sequences presented by MHC class 1 molecule in an infected host, and TB sequences isolated from urine of infected patients. The present invention includes polypeptide molecules that contain the sequence of any one of the antigenic TB amino acid sequences (SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, or combinations thereof). See FIGS. 1, 2 and 5-9. The present invention also pertains to polypeptide molecules that are encoded by nucleic acid sequences, SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combinations thereof).
As used herein, the term "polypeptide" encompasses amino acid chains of any length, including full length proteins (i.e., antigens), wherein the amino acid residues are linked by covalent peptide bonds. Thus, a polypeptide comprising an immunogenic portion of a M. tuberculosis antigen can consist entirely of the immunogenic portion, or can contain additional sequences. The additional sequences can be derived from the native M. tuberculosis antigen or can be heterologous, and such sequences can (but need not) be immunogenic, hi general, the polypeptides disclosed herein are prepared in substantially pure form. Preferably, the polypeptides are at least about 80% pure, more preferably at least about 90% pure and most preferably at least about 99% pure.
Antigenic TB polypeptides of the present invention referred to herein as "isolated" are polypeptides that separated away from other proteins and cellular material of their source of origin. Isolated antigenic TB polypeptides, peptides derived by infection with the M. tuberculosis bacteria, include essentially pure protein, proteins produced by chemical synthesis, by combinations of biological and chemical synthesis and by recombinant methods. The proteins of the present invention have been isolated and characterized as to its physical characteristics using the procedures described in the Exemplification, and can be done using laboratory techniques for protein purification. Such techniques include, for example, salting out, immunoprecipation, column chromatography, high pressure liquid chromatography or electrophoresis.

The compositions and methods of the present invention also encompass variants of the above polypeptides and DNA molecules. A polypeptide "variant," as used herein, is a polypeptide that differs from the recited polypeptide only in conservative substitutions and/or modifications, such that the therapeutic, antigenic and/or immunogenic properties of the polypeptide are retained. A variant of a specific M. tuberculosis antigen will therefore stimulate cell proliferation and/or IFN-γ in ThI cells raised against that specific antigen. Polypeptide variants preferably exhibit at least about 70%, more preferably at least about 90% and most preferably at least about 95% homology to the identified polypeptides. For polypeptides with immunoreactive properties, variants can, alternatively, be identified by modifying the amino acid sequence of one of the above polypeptides, and evaluating the immunoreactivity of the modified polypeptide. Such modified sequences can be prepared and tested using, for example, the representative procedures described herein.
As used herein, a "conservative substitution" is one in which an amino acid is substituted for another amino acid that has similar properties, such that one skilled in the art of peptide chemistry would expect the secondary structure and hydropathic nature of the polypeptide to be substantially unchanged. In general, the following groups of amino acids represent conservative changes: (1) ala, pro, gly, glu, asp, gin, asn, ser, thr; (2) cys, ser, tyr, thr; (3) val, ile, leu, met, ala, phe; (4) lys, arg, his; and (5) phe, tyr, tip, his.
Variants can also, or alternatively, contain other modifications, including the deletion or addition of amino acids that have minimal influence on the antigenic properties, secondary structure and hydropathic nature of the polypeptide. For example, a polypeptide can be conjugated to a signal (or leader) sequence at the N-terminal end of the protein which co-translationally or
post-translationally directs transfer of the protein. The polypeptide can also be conjugated to a linker or other sequence for ease of synthesis, purification or identification of the polypeptide (e.g., poly-His), or to enhance binding of the polypeptide to a solid support. For example, a polypeptide can be conjugated to an immunoglobulin Fc region.
The present invention also encompasses TB proteins and polypeptides, variants thereof, or those having amino acid sequences analogous to the amino acid sequences of antigenic TB polypeptides described herein. Such polypeptides are defined herein as antigenic TB analogs (e.g., homologues), or mutants or derivatives. "Analogous" or "homologous" amino acid sequences refer to amino acid sequences with sufficient identity of any one of the TB amino acid sequences so as to possess the biological activity (e.g., the ability to elicit a protective immune response to TB bacteria) of any one of the native TB polypeptides. For example, an analog polypeptide can be produced with "silent" changes in the amino acid sequence wherein one, or more, amino acid residues differ from the amino acid residues of any one of the TB protein, yet still possesses the function or biological activity of the TB. Examples of such differences include additions, deletions or substitutions of residues of the amino acid sequence of TB. Also encompassed by the present invention are analogous polypeptides that exhibit greater, or lesser, biological activity of any one of the TB proteins of the present invention. Such polypeptides can be made by mutating (e.g., substituting, deleting or adding) one or more amino acid or nucleic acid residues to any of the isolated TB molecules described herein. Such mutations can be performed using methods described herein and those known in the art. In particular, the present invention relates to homologous polypeptide molecules having at least about 70% (e.g., 75%, 80%, 85%, 90% or 95%) identity or similarity with SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, or combination thereof. Percent "identity" refers to the amount of identical nucleotides or amino acids between two nucleotides or amino acid sequences, respectfully. As used herein, "percent similarity" refers to the amount of similar or conservative amino acids between two amino acid sequences.
The polypeptides of the present invention, including a full length sequence, partial sequences, functional fragments and homologues, that allow for or assist in stimulating an immunogenic specific or protective immune response to TB. "Immunogenic," as used herein, refers to the ability to elicit an immune response (e.g., cellular) in a patient, such as a human, and/or in a biological sample. In particular, antigens that are immunogenic (and immunogenic portions thereof) stimulate cell proliferation, interleukin-12 production and/or interferon-γ production in biological samples comprising one or more cells (e.g., T cells, NK cells, B cells and macrophage). Such cells are derived from an M. tubercidosis-m' mxaae individual. Immunogenic portions of the antigens described herein can be prepared and identified using the techniques described herein. Other techniques, such as those summarized in Paul, Fundamental Immunology, 3d ed., Raven Press, 1993, pp. 243-247 and references cited therein, can be used. Such techniques include screening polypeptide portions of the native antigen for immunogenic properties. An immunogenic portion of a polypeptide is a portion that, within such assays, generates an immune response (e.g.,
proliferation, interferon-γ production and/or interleukin-12 production) that is substantially similar to that generated by the full-length antigen. In other words, an immunogenic portion of an antigen can generate at least about 20%, and preferably about 100%, of the proliferation induced by the full length antigen in the model proliferation assay described herein. An immunogenic portion can also, or alternatively, stimulate the production of at least about 20%, and preferably about 100%, of the interferon-γ and/or interleukin-12 induced by the full length antigen in the model assay described herein. As used herein, "TB" or "TB disease" refers to the disease cause by the infection of M tuberculosis.
Homologous polypeptides can be determined using methods known to those of skill in the art. Initial homology searches can be performed at NCBI against the GenBank, EMBL and
SwissProt databases using, for example, the BLAST network service. Altschuler, S. F., et al., J. MoI. Biol., 215:403 (1990), Altschuler, S. F., Nucleic Acids Res., 25:3389-3402 (1998). Computer analysis of nucleotide sequences can be performed using the MOTIFS and the FindPatterns subroutines of the Genetics Computing Group (GCG, version 8.0) software. Protein and/or nucleotide comparisons were performed according to Higgins and Sharp (Higgins, D. G. and Sharp, P. M., Gene, 73:237-244 (1988) e.g., using default parameters).
Additionally, the individual isolated polypeptides of the present invention are biologically active or functional and play various roles in bacteria as well. For example, isolated polypeptide, such as SEQ ID NO: 6 is a glutamine-transport transmembrane protein ABC transporter. Likewise, SEQ ID NO: 22 is a cationic amino acid transport integral member protein, and SEQ ID NO: 26 is a Cationic transporting P-type ATPase. SEQ ID NO: 32, is a molybdopterin biosynthesis protein. The present invention includes fragments of these isolated amino acid sequences, yet possess the function or biological activity of the sequence. For example, polypeptide fragments comprising deletion mutants of the antigenic TB proteins can be designed and expressed by well-known laboratory methods. Fragments, homologues, or analogous polypeptides can be evaluated for biological activity, as described herein.
The present invention also encompasses biologically active derivatives or analogs of the above described antigenic TB polypeptides, referred to herein as peptide mimetics. Mimetics can be designed and produced by techniques known to those of skill in the art. (see e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos.

4,612,132; 5,643,873 and 5,654,276). These mimetics can be based, for example, on a specific TB amino acid sequence and maintain the relative position in space of the corresponding amino acid sequence. These peptide mimetics possess biological activity similar to the biological activity of the corresponding peptide compound, but possess a "biological advantage" over the corresponding antigenic TB amino acid sequence with respect to one, or more, of the following properties:
solubility, stability and susceptibility to hydrolysis and proteolysis.
Methods for preparing peptide mimetics include modifying the N-terminal amino group, the C-terminal carboxyl group, and/or changing one or more of the amino linkages in the peptide to a non-amino linkage. Two or more such modifications can be coupled in one peptide mimetic molecule. Modifications of peptides to produce peptide mimetics are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,643,873 and 5,654,276. Other forms of the antigenic TB polypeptides, encompassed by the present invention, include those which are "functionally equivalent." This term, as used herein, refers to any nucleic acid sequence and its encoded amino acid, which mimics the biological activity of the TB polypeptides and/or functional domains thereof.

TB Nucleic Acid Sequences, Plasmids, Vectors and Host Cells
The present invention, in one embodiment, includes an isolated nucleic acid molecule having a sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combinations thereof. See FIGS. 1, 2 and 5-9. The present invention includes sequences as recited in Figs. 1, 2, and 5-9, as well as the coding regions thereof.
As used herein, the terms "DNA molecule" or "nucleic acid molecule" include both sense and anti-sense strands, cDNA, genomic DNA, recombinant DNA, RNA, and wholly or partially synthesized nucleic acid molecules. A nucleotide "variant" is a sequence that differs from the recited nucleotide sequence in having one or more nucleotide deletions, substitutions or additions. Such modifications can be readily introduced using standard mutagenesis techniques, such as oligonucleotide-directed site-specific mutagenesis as taught, for example, by Adelman et al. (DNA 2:183, 1983). Nucleotide variants can be naturally occurring allelic variants, or non-naturally occurring variants. Variant nucleotide sequences preferably exhibit at least about 70%, more preferably at least about 80% and most preferably at least about 90% homology to the recited sequence. Such variant nucleotide sequences will generally hybridize to the recited nucleotide sequence under stringent conditions. In one embodiment, "stringent conditions" refers to
prewashing in a solution of 6 x SSC, 0.2% SDS; hybridizing at 65 ° Celsius, 6xSSC, 0.2% SDS overnight; followed by two washes of 30 minutes each in IxSSC, 0.1% SDS at 65 ° C. and two washes of 30 minutes each in 0.2XSSC, 0.1% SDS at 65 ° C.
The present invention also encompasses isolated nucleic acid sequences that encode TB polypeptides, and in particular, those which encode a polypeptide molecule having an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, or combinations thereof. These TB nucleic acid sequences encode polypeptides that stimulate a protective immunogenic response to the M. tuberculosis bacteria and/or are involved the functions further described herein.
As used herein, an "isolated" gene or nucleotide sequence which is not flanked by nucleotide sequences which normally (e.g., in nature) flank the gene or nucleotide sequence (e.g., as in genomic sequences) and/or has been completely or partially purified from other transcribed sequences (e.g., as in a cDNA or RNA library). Thus, an isolated gene or nucleotide sequence can include a gene or nucleotide sequence which is synthesized chemically or by recombinant means. Nucleic acid constructs contained in a vector are included in the definition of "isolated" as used herein. Also, isolated nucleotide sequences include recombinant nucleic acid molecules and heterologous host cells, as well as partially or substantially or purified nucleic acid molecules in solution. In vivo and in vitro RNA transcripts of the present invention are also encompassed by "isolated" nucleotide sequences. Such isolated nucleotide sequences are useful for the manufacture of the encoded antigenic TB polypeptide, as probes for isolating homologues sequences (e.g., from other mammalian species or other organisms), for gene mapping (e.g., by in situ hybridization), or for detecting the presence (e.g., by Southern blot analysis) or expression (e.g., by Northern blot analysis) of related genes in cells or tissue.
The antigenic TB nucleic acid sequences of the present invention include homologues nucleic acid sequences. "Analogous" or "homologous" nucleic acid sequences refer to nucleic acid sequences with sufficient identity of any one of the TB nucleic acid sequences, such that once encoded into polypeptides, they possess the biological activity of any one of the antigenic TB polypeptides described herein. For example, an analogous nucleic acid molecule can be produced with "silent" changes in the sequence wherein one, or more, nucleotides differ from the nucleotides of any one of the TB polypeptides described herein, yet, once encoded into a polypeptide, still possesses its function or biological activity. Examples of such differences include additions, deletions or substitutions. Also encompassed by the present invention are nucleic acid sequences that encode analogous polypeptides that exhibit greater, or lesser, biological activity of the TB proteins of the present invention. In particular, the present invention is directed to nucleic acid molecules having at least about 70% (e.g., 75%, 80%, 85%, 90% or 95%) identity with SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combinations thereof.
The nucleic acid molecules of the present invention, including the full length sequences, the partial sequences, functional fragments and homologues, once encoded into polypeptides, elicit an specific immunogenic TB response, or has the function of the polypeptide, as further described herein. The homologous nucleic acid sequences can be determined using methods known to those of skill in the art, and by methods described herein including those described for determining homologous polypeptide sequences. Immunogenic antigens can then be sequenced using techniques such as Edman chemistry. See Edman and Berg, Eur. J. Biochem. 80:116-132, 1967.
Also encompassed by the present invention are nucleic acid sequences, DNA or RNA, which are substantially complementary to the DNA sequences encoding the antigenic TB
polypeptides of the present invention, and which specifically hybridize with their DNA sequences under conditions of stringency known to those of skill in the art. As defined herein, substantially complementary means that the nucleic acid need not reflect the exact sequence of the TB sequences, but must be sufficiently similar in sequence to permit hybridization with TB nucleic acid sequence under high stringency conditions. For example, non-complementary bases can be interspersed in a nucleotide sequence, or the sequences can be longer or shorter than the TB nucleic acid sequence, provided that the sequence has a sufficient number of bases complementary to the TB sequence to allow hybridization therewith. Conditions for stringency are described in e.g., Ausubel, F. M., et al., Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, (Current Protocol, 1994), and Brown, et al., Nature, 366:575 (1993); and further defined in conjunction with certain assays.
Also encompassed by the present invention are nucleic acid sequences, genomic DNA, cDNA, RNA or a combination thereof, which are substantially complementary to the DNA sequences of the present invention and which specifically hybridize with the antigenic TB nucleic acid sequences under conditions of sufficient stringency (e.g., high stringency) to identify DNA sequences with substantial nucleic acid identity.
The present invention also includes portions and other variants of M. tuberculosis antigens that are generated by synthetic or recombinant means. Synthetic polypeptides having fewer than about 100 amino acids, and generally fewer than about 50 amino acids, can be generated using techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, such polypeptides can be synthesized using any of the commercially available solid-phase techniques, such as the Merrifield solid-phase synthesis method, where amino acids are sequentially added to a growing amino acid chain. See Merrifield, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 85:2149-2146, 1963. Equipment for automated synthesis of polypeptides is commercially available from suppliers such as Applied BioSystems, Inc., Foster City, Calif., and can be operated according to the manufacturer's instructions. Variants of a native antigen can generally be prepared using standard mutagenesis techniques, such as
oligonucleotide-directed site-specific mutagenesis. Sections of the DNA sequence can also be removed using standard techniques to permit preparation of truncated polypeptides.
In another embodiment, the present invention includes nucleic acid molecules (e.g., probes or primers) that hybridize to the TB sequences, SEQ ID NO:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combinations thereof under high or moderate stringency conditions. In one aspect, the present invention includes molecules that are or hybridize to at least about 20 contiguous nucleotides or longer in length (e.g., 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, 2100,

2200, 2300, 2400, 2500, 2600, 2700, 2800, 2900, 3000, 3100, 3200, 3300, 3400, 3500, 3600, 3700, 3800, 3900, or 4000). Such molecules hybridize to one of the TB nucleic acid sequences under high stringency conditions. The present invention includes such molecules and those that encode a polypeptide that has the functions or biological activity described herein.
Typically the nucleic acid probe comprises a nucleic acid sequence (e.g. SEQ ID NO: 1, 3,

5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combinations thereof) and is of sufficient length and complementarity to specifically hybridize to a nucleic acid sequence that encodes a TB antigenic polypeptide. For example, a nucleic acid probe can be at least about 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% or 90% the length of the TB nucleic acid sequence. The requirements of sufficient length and complementarity can be easily determined by one of skill in the art. Suitable hybridization conditions (e.g., high stringency conditions) are also described herein. Additionally, the present invention encompasses fragments of the polypeptides of the present invention or nucleic acid sequences that encodes a polypeptide wherein the polypeptide has the biologically activity of the TB polypeptides recited herein.
Such fragments are useful as probes for assays described herein, and as experimental tools, or in the case of nucleic acid fragments, as primers. A preferred embodiment includes primers and probes which selectively hybridize to the nucleic acid constructs encoding any one of the recited TB polypeptides. For example, nucleic acid fragments which encode any one of the domains described herein are also implicated by the present invention.
Stringency conditions for hybridization refers to conditions of temperature and buffer composition which permit hybridization of a first nucleic acid sequence to a second nucleic acid sequence, wherein the conditions determine the degree of identity between those sequences which hybridize to each other. Therefore, "high stringency conditions" are those conditions wherein only nucleic acid sequences which are very similar to each other will hybridize. The sequences can be less similar to each other if they hybridize under moderate stringency conditions. Still less similarity is needed for two sequences to hybridize under low stringency conditions. By varying the hybridization conditions from a stringency level at which no hybridization occurs, to a level at which hybridization is first observed, conditions can be determined at which a given sequence will hybridize to those sequences that are most similar to it. The precise conditions determining the stringency of a particular hybridization include not only the ionic strength, temperature, and the concentration of destabilizing agents such as formamide, but also factors such as the length of the nucleic acid sequences, their base composition, the percent of mismatched base pairs between the two sequences, and the frequency of occurrence of subsets of the sequences (e.g., small stretches of repeats) within other non-identical sequences. Washing is the step in which conditions are set so as to determine a minimum level of similarity between the sequences hybridizing with each other. Generally, from the lowest temperature at which only homologous hybridization occurs, a 1% mismatch between two sequences results in a 1° C. decrease in the melting temperature (Tm) for any chosen SSC concentration. Generally, a doubling of the concentration of SSC results in an increase in the T1n of about 17° C. Using these guidelines, the washing temperature can be determined empirically, depending on the level of mismatch sought. Hybridization and wash conditions are explained in Current Protocols in Molecular Biology (Ausubel, F. M. et al., eds., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995, with supplemental updates) on pages 2.10.1 to 2.10.16, and 6.3.1 to 6.3.6.
High stringency conditions can employ hybridization at either (1) IXSSC (10XSSC=3 M NaCl5 0.3 M Na3-citrate..2H2O (88 g/liter), pH to 7.0 with 1 M HCl), 1% SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate), 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 65° C, (2) IXSSC, 50% formamide, 1% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 42° C, (3) 1% bovine serum albumin (fraction V), 1 mM Na2-EDTA, 0.5 M NaHPO4 (pH 7.2) (1 M NaHPO4=134 g Na2HPO4-JH2O, 4 ml 85% H3PO4 per liter), 7% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 65° C, (4) 50% formamide, 5XSSC, 0.02 M Tris-HCl (pH 7.6), IX Denhardt's solution (100X=IO g Ficoll 400, 10 g
polyvinylpyrrolidone, 1O g bovine serum albumin (fraction V), water to 500 ml), 10% dextran sulfate, 1% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 42° C, (5) 5XSSC, 5X Denhardt's solution, 1% SDS, 100 μg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 65° C, or (6) 5XSSC, 5X Denhardt's solution, 50% formamide, 1% SDS, 100 μg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 42° C, with high stringency washes of either (1) 0.3-O.lXSSC, 0.1% SDS at 65° C, or (2) 1 mM Na2EDTA, 40 mM NaHPO4 (pH 7.2), 1% SDS at 65° C. The above conditions are intended to be used for DNA-DNA hybrids of 50 base pairs or longer. Where the hybrid is believed to be less than 18 base pairs in length, the hybridization and wash temperatures should be 5-10° C. below that of the calculated Tm of the hybrid, where Tm in ° C.=(2X the number of A and T bases)+(4X the number of G and C bases). For hybrids believed to be about 18 to about 49 base pairs in length, the Tm in ° C.=(81.5° C.+16.6(log10M)+0.41(% G+C)-0.61 (% formamide)-500/L), where "M" is the molarity of monovalent cations (e.g., Na+), and "L" is the length of the hybrid in base pairs.
Moderate stringency conditions can employ hybridization at either (1) 4XSSC, (10XSSC=3 M NaCl, 0.3 M Na3-citrate.. 2H2O (88 g/liter), pH to 7.0 with 1 M HCl), 1% SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate), 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 65° C, (2) 4XSSC, 50% formamide, 1% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 42° C, (3) 1% bovine serum albumin (fraction V), 1 mM Na^.EDTA, 0.5 M NaHPO4 (pH 7.2) (1 M NaHPO4=134 g Na2HPO4-JH2O, 4 ml 85% H3PO4 per liter), 7% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 65° C, (4) 50% formamide, 5XSSC, 0.02 M Tris-HCl (pH 7.6), IX Denhardt's solution (100X=IO g Ficoll 400, 10 g
polyvinylpyrrolidone, 1O g bovine serum albumin (fraction V), water to 500 ml), 10% dextran sulfate, 1% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 42° C, (5) 5XSSC, 5X Denhardt's solution, 1% SDS, 100 μg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 65° C5 or (6) 5XSSC, 5X Denhardfs solution, 50% formamide, 1% SDS, 100 μg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 42° C, with moderate stringency washes of IXSSC, 0.1% SDS at 65° C. The above conditions are intended to be used for DNA-DNA hybrids of 50 base pairs or longer. Where the hybrid is believed to be less than 18 base pairs in length, the hybridization and wash temperatures should be 5-10° C. below that of the calculated Tm of the hybrid, where Tm in ° C.=(2X the number of A and T bases)+(4X the number of G and C bases). For hybrids believed to be about 18 to about 49 base pairs in length, the Tm in ° C .=(81.5° C.+16.6(log10M)+0.41(% G+C)-0.61 (% formamide)-500/L), where 11M" is the molarity of monovalent cations (e.g., Na+), and "L" is the length of the hybrid in base pairs.
Low stringency conditions can employ hybridization at either (1) 4XSSC, (10XSSC=3 M

NaCl, 0.3 M Na3-citrate...2H2O (88 g/liter), pH to 7.0 with 1 M HCl), 1% SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate), 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 50° C, (2) 6XSSC, 50% formamide, 1% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 40° C, (3) 1% bovine serum albumin (fraction V), 1 mM Na2^EDTA, 0.5 M NaHPO4 (pH 7.2) (1 M NaHPO4=134 g Na2HP(V^H2O, 4 ml 85% H3PO4 per liter), 7% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 50° C, (4) 50% formamide, 5XSSC, 0.02 M Tris-HCl (pH 7.6), IX Denhardfs solution (100X=IO g Ficoll 400, 10 g polyvinylpyrrolidone, 1O g bovine serum albumin (fraction V), water to 500 ml), 10% dextran sulfate, 1% SDS, 0.1-2 mg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 40° C, (5) 5XSSC, 5X Denhardfs solution, 1% SDS, 100 μg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 50° C, or (6) 5XSSC, 5X Denhardfs solution, 50% formamide, 1% SDS, 100 μg/ml denatured calf thymus DNA at 40° C, with low stringency washes of either 2XSSC, 0.1% SDS at 50° C, or (2) 0.5% bovine serum albumin (fraction V), 1 mM Na2EDTA, 40 mM NaHPO4 (pH 7.2), 5% SDS. The above conditions are intended to be used for DNA-DNA hybrids of 50 base pairs or longer. Where the hybrid is believed to be less than 18 base pairs in length, the hybridization and wash temperatures should be 5-10° C. below that of the calculated Tm of the hybrid, where Tm in ° C.=(2X the number of A and T bases)+(4X the number of G and C bases). For hybrids believed to be about 18 to about 49 base pairs in length, the Tm in ° C .=(81.5° C.+16.6(log10M)+0.41(% G+Q-0.61 (% formamide)-500/L), where "M" is the molarity of monovalent cations (e.g., Na.+), and "L" is the length of the hybrid in base pairs.

The TB nucleic acid sequences ot the present invention, or a fragment thereof, can also be used to isolate additional homologs. For example, a cDNA or genomic DNA library from the appropriate organism can be screened with labeled TB nucleic acid sequence to identify
homologous genes as described in e.g., Ausebel, et al, Eds., Current Protocols In Molecular Biology, John Wiley & Sons, New York (1997).
Immunogenic antigens can be produced recombinantly using a DNA sequence that encodes the antigen, which has been inserted into an expression vector and expressed in an appropriate host cell. DNA sequences encoding M. tuberculosis antigens can, for example, be identified by screening an appropriate M. tuberculosis genomic or cDNA expression library with sera obtained from patients infected with M. tuberculosis. Such screens can generally be performed using techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art, such as those described in Sambrook et al.,
Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, Cold Spring Harbor, N. Y., 1989. Degenerate oligonucleotide sequences for use in such a screen can be designed and synthesized, and the screen can be performed. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can also be employed, using the above oligonucleotides in methods well known in the art, to isolate a nucleic acid probe from a cDNA or genomic library. The library screen can then be performed using the isolated probe. The present method can optionally include a labeled TB antigenic probe.
Alternatively, genomic or cDNA libraries derived from M. tuberculosis can be screened directly using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) or T cell lines or clones derived from one or more M. tuberculosis-immune individuals. In general, PBMCs and/or T cells for use in such screens can be prepared as described below. Direct library screens can generally be performed by assaying pools of expressed recombinant proteins for the ability to induce proliferation and/or interferon-γ production in T cells derived from an M. tuberculosis-immune individual.
The invention also provides vectors, plasmids or viruses containing one or more of the TB nucleic acid molecules (e.g., having the sequence of SEQ ID NO:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combinations thereof). Suitable vectors for use in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells are known in the art and are commercially available or readily prepared by a skilled artisan. Additional vectors can also be found, for example, in Ausubel, F. M., et al., Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, (Current Protocol, 1994) and Sambrook et al., "Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual," 2nd ED. (1989).

Recombinant polypeptides containing portions and/or variants of a native antigen can be readily prepared from a DNA sequence encoding the polypeptide using a variety of techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, supernatants from suitable host/vector systems which secrete recombinant protein into culture media can be first concentrated using a commercially available filter. Following concentration, the concentrate can be applied to a suitable purification matrix such as an affinity matrix or an ion exchange resin. Finally, one or more reverse phase HPLC steps can be employed to further purify a recombinant protein.
Any of a variety of expression vectors known to those of ordinary skill in the art can be employed to express recombinant polypeptides of this invention. Expression can be achieved in any appropriate host cell that has been transformed or transfected with an expression vector containing a DNA molecule that encodes a recombinant polypeptide. Suitable host cells include prokaryotes, yeast and higher eukaryotic cells. Preferably, the host cells employed are E. coli, yeast or a mammalian cell line such as COS or CHO. The DNA sequences expressed in this manner can encode naturally occurring antigens, portions of naturally occurring antigens, or other variants thereof.
Uses of plasmids, vectors or viruses containing the cloned TB receptors or receptor fragments include one or more of the following; (1) generation of hybridization probes for detection and measuring level of TB in tissue or isolation of TB homologs; (2) generation of TB mRNA or protein in vitro or in vivo; and (3) generation of transgenic non-human animals or recombinant host cells.
In one embodiment, the present invention encompasses host cells transformed with the plasmids, vectors or viruses described above. Nucleic acid molecules can be inserted into a construct which can, optionally, replicate and/or integrate into a recombinant host cell, by known methods. The host cell can be a eukaryote or prokaryote and includes, for example, yeast (such as P ichia pastor ius or Saccharomyces cerevisiae), bacteria (such as E. coli, M. tuberculosis, or

Bacillus subtilis), animal cells or tissue, insect Sf9 cells (such as baculoviruses infected SF9 cells) or mammalian cells (somatic or embryonic cells, Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK) cells, Chinese hamster ovary cells, HeLa cells, human 293 cells and monkey COS-7 cells). Host cells suitable in the present invention also include a mammalian cell, a bacterial cell, a yeast cell, an insect cell, and a plant cell.

The nucleic acid molecule can be incorporated or inserted into the host cell by known methods. Examples of suitable methods of transfecting or transforming cells include calcium phosphate precipitation, electroporation, microinjection, infection, lipofection and direct uptake. "Transformation" or "transfection" as used herein refers to the acquisition of new or altered genetic features by incorporation of additional nucleic acids, e.g., DNA. "Expression" of the genetic information of a host cell is a term of art which refers to the directed transcription of DNA to generate RNA which is translated into a polypeptide. Methods for preparing such recombinant host cells and incorporating nucleic acids are described in more detail in Sambrook et al., "Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual," Second Edition (1989) and Ausubel, et al. "Current Protocols in Molecular Biology," (1992), for example.
The host cell is then maintained under suitable conditions for expression and recovery of the antigenic TB polypeptide of the present invention. Generally, the cells are maintained in a suitable buffer and/or growth medium or nutrient source for growth of the cells and expression of the gene product(s). The growth media are not critical to the invention, are generally known in the art and include sources of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur. Examples include Luria broth, Superbroth,
Dulbecco's Modified Eagles Media (DMEM), RPMI-1640, M199 and Grace's insect media. The growth media can contain a buffer, the selection of which is not critical to the invention. The pH of the buffered Media can be selected and is generally one tolerated by or optimal for growth for the host cell.
The host cell is maintained under a suitable temperature and atmosphere. Alternatively, the host cell is aerobic and the host cell is maintained under atmospheric conditions or other suitable conditions for growth. The temperature should also be selected so that the host cell tolerates the process and can be for example, between about 13-40 degree Celsius.

Antibodies and Methods of Assessment
Method for assessing the presence or absence of the antigenic TB polypeptides described herein, in a sample, are encompassed by the present invention. Suitable assays include
immunological methods, such as radioimmunoassay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), chemiluminescence assays, and rapid immunochromatographic assays. Any method known now or developed later can be used for measuring antigenic TB polypeptides.

Antibodies reactive with any one of the antigenic TB polypeptides, namely, SEQ ID Nos: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, or combination thereof, or portions thereof can be used. In a preferred embodiment, the antibodies specifically bind with antigenic TB polypeptides or a portion thereof. The antibodies can be polyclonal or
monoclonal, and the term antibody is intended to encompass polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies, and functional fragments thereof. The terms polyclonal and monoclonal refer to the degree of homogeneity of an antibody preparation, and are not intended to be limited to particular methods of production.
In several of the preferred embodiments, immunological techniques detect the presence, absence of levels of antigenic TB polypeptides described herein by means of an anti-TB antibody (i.e., one or more antibodies). The term "anti-TB antibody" includes monoclonal and/or polyclonal antibodies, and mixtures or cocktails thereof, and refers to antibodies specific to polypeptides having a sequence set forth in SEQ ID Nos: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, or combination thereof, or portions thereof.
Anti-TB antibodies can be raised against appropriate immunogens, such as isolated and/or recombinant antigenic TB polypeptides described herein, analogs or portion thereof (including synthetic molecules, such as synthetic peptides). In one embodiment, antibodies are raised against an isolated and/or recombinant antigenic TB polypeptides described herein or portion thereof (e.g., a peptide) or against a host cell which expresses recombinant antigenic TB polypeptides. In addition, cells expressing recombinant antigenic TB polypeptides described herein, such as transfected cells, can be used as immunogens or in a screen for antibody which binds receptor.
Any suitable technique can prepare the immunizing antigen and produce polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies. The art contains a variety of these methods (see e.g., Kohler et al., Nature, 256: 495-497 (1975) and Eur. J. Immunol. 6: 511-519 (1976); Milstein et al., Nature 266: 550-552 (1977); Koprowski et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,172,124; Harlow, E. and D. Lane, 1988, Antibodies: A

Laboratory Manual, (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Cold Spring Harbor, N. Y.); Current Protocols In Molecular Biology, Vol. 2 (Supplement 27, Summer '94), Ausubel, F. M. et al., Eds., (John Wiley & Sons: New York, N. Y.), Chapter 11, (1991)). Generally, fusing a suitable immortal or myeloma cell line, such as SP2/0, with antibody producing cells can produce a hybridoma. Animals immunized with the antigen of interest provide the antibody producing cell, preferably cells from the spleen or lymph nodes. Selective culture conditions isolate antibody producing hybridoma cells while limiting dilution techniques produce them. Researchers can use suitable assays such as ELISA to select antibody producing cells with the desired specificity.
Other suitable methods can produce or isolate antibodies of the requisite specificity.
Examples of other methods include selecting recombinant antibody from a library or relying upon immunization of transgenic animals such as mice.
The present invention includes assays to determine if a person is infected with active TB, as compared with person who does not have active TB (e.g., has latent TB, no TB infection, or has been immunized against TB infection). Latent TB occurs when a person has been infected with M. tuberculosis, but the bacteria is dormant or inactive. Active TB infection refers to a person infected with M. tuberculosis and the bacteria is acutely affecting portions of the bodying, including the lungs, and other tissues. The present invention, based on the discovery that certain TB antigens are found in the urine of patients with active TB, includes assays for determining the absence or presence of active TB infection.
According to the method, an assay can determine the presence, absence or level of antigenic

TB polypeptides in a biological sample. Such an assay includes combining the sample to be tested with an antibody having specificity for antigenic TB polypeptides described herein, under conditions suitable for formation of a complex between antibody and antigenic TB polypeptides, and detecting or measuring (directly or indirectly) the formation of a complex. The sample can be obtained directly or indirectly (e.g., provided by a healthcare provider), and can be prepared by a method suitable for the particular sample (e.g., urine, sputum, cerebral spinal fluid, whole blood, platelet rich plasma, platelet poor plasma, serum) and assay format selected. Methods of combining sample and antibody, and methods of detecting complex formation are also selected to be compatible with the assay format.
Suitable labels can be detected directly, such as radioactive, fluorescent or
chemiluminescent labels. They can also be indirectly detected using labels such as enzyme labels and other antigenic or specific binding partners like biotin. Examples of such labels include fluorescent labels such as fluorescein, rhodamine, chemiluminescent labels such as luciferase, radioisotope labels such as 32P, 1251, 131I, enzyme labels such as horseradish peroxidase, and alkaline phosphatase, galactosidase, biotin, avidin, spin labels and the like. The detection of antibodies in a complex can also be done immunologically with a second antibody, which is then detected (e.g., by means of a label). Conventional methods or other suitable methods can directly or indirectly label an antibody. Labeled primary and secondary antibodies can be obtained commercially or prepared using methods know to one of skill in the art (see Harlow, E. and D. Lane, 1988, Antibodies: A Laboratory Manual, (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Cold Spring Harbor, N. Y.).
In a preferred embodiment, the presence, absence, or level of antigenic TB polypeptides in a sample is determined using an ELISA assay, a sandwich ELISA assay, or immunochromatographic assay. For detection of antigenic TB polypeptides in a suitable sample, a sample (e.g., urine) is collected. Samples can be processed as known in the art. The assay further includes combining a suitable sample with a composition having an anti-TB polypeptide antibody as detector (e.g., biotinylated anti-TB polypeptides MAb and HRP-streptavidin, or HRP-conjugated anti-TB polypeptides Mab), and a solid support, such as a microtiter plate or dipstick, having an anti-TB polypeptide capture antibody bound (directly or indirectly) thereto. The detector antibody binds to a different antigenic TB polypeptide epitope from that recognized by the capture antibody, under conditions suitable for the formation of the complex. The assay then involves determining the formation of complex in the samples. The presence of one or more of the antigenic TB polypeptide in a sample of an individual indicates the presence of active TB infection, whereas the absence of a TB polypeptide indicates that the patient does not have active TB infection.
The solid support, such as a microtiter plate, dipstick, bead, pad, strip, or other suitable support, can be coated directly or indirectly with an anti-TB polypeptide antibody or TB specific antigen. For example, an anti-TB polypeptide antibody can coat a microtiter well, or a biotinylated anti-TB polypeptide Mab can be added to a streptavidin coated support. With respect to a immunochromatographic assay, a pad or strip can be coated with an antibody specific for the antigen, and when a sample having the one or more of antigens described herein comes into contact with the antibody, the complex can turn a color with aid of a detector, as further described herein. See Fig. 4. A variety of immobilizing or coating methods as well as a number of solid supports can be used, and can be selected according to the desired format.
In one immunochromatographic assay, a sample having the TB antigens of the present invention can be added to the pad like that shown in Fig. 4. The sample diffuses across a gold labeled antibody (mAb#l) that is specific to a portion of the antigen, and a complex between the antigen in the sample and the antibody is formed. As the complex further diffuses across the pad having a second antibody (mAb #2), the antibody binds to a different portion of the antigen. When it hits the line labeled "line 1", the labeled complex turns a color, and the control line ("line 2") will also change color. If the sample does not contain the TB antigens of the present invention, then line 1 will not turn color because the gold-labeled antibody will not bind to the sample and therefore will not come into contact with line 1.
In another embodiment, the sample (or an antigenic TB polypeptide standard) is combined with the solid support simultaneously with the detector antibody, and optionally with a one or more reagents by which detection is monitored. For example, the sample can be combined with the solid support simultaneously with (a) HRP-conjugated anti-TB polypeptide Mab, or (b) a biotinylated anti-TB polypeptide Mab and HRP-streptavidin.
A known amount of an antigenic TB polypeptide standard can be prepared and processed as described above for a suitable sample. This antigenic TB polypeptide standard assists in quantifying the amount of antigenic TB polypeptides detected by comparing the level of antigenic TB polypeptides in the sample relative to that in the standard.
A physician, technician, apparatus or a qualified person can compare the amount of detected complex with a suitable control to determine if the levels are elevated. For example, the level of antigenic TB polypeptides following treatment can be compared with a baseline level prior to treatment, or with levels in normal individuals or suitable controls. A decrease in or maintenance of the levels of one or more TB polypeptides in the urine, as compared to baseline levels, indicates that the treatment is working, whereas increases in levels indicates that is not effective.
Typical assays for antigenic TB polypeptides are sequential assays in which a plate is coated with first antibody, sample is added, the plate is washed, second tagged antibody is added, and the plate is washed and bound second antibody is quantified. In another embodiment, a format in which antibodies and the sample are added simultaneously, in a competitive ELISA format, can achieve greater sensitivity.
A variety of methods can determine the amount of antigenic TB polypeptides in complexes. For example, when HRP is used as a label, a suitable substrate such as OPD can be added to produce color intensity directly proportional to the bound anti-TB polypeptides Mab (assessed e.g., by optical density), and therefore to the antigenic TB polypeptides in the sample.

A technician, physician, qualified person or apparatus can compare the results to a suitable control such as a standard, or baseline levels of antigenic TB polypeptides in a sample from the same donor. For example, the assay can be performed using a known amount of antigenic TB polypeptides standard in lieu of a sample, and a standard curved established. One can relatively compare known amounts of the antigenic TB polypeptides standard to the amount of complex formed or detected.
The nucleic acid that encodes the antigenic TB polypeptides can also be assayed by hybridization, e.g., by hybridizing one of the TB sequences provided herein (e.g., SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combinations thereof) or an oligonucleotide derived from one of the sequences, to a DNA or RNA-containing tissue sample from a person. Such a hybridization sequence can have a detectable label, e.g., radioactive, fluorescent, etc., attached to allow the detection of hybridization product. Such methods include contacting the sample with one or more oligonucleotide probes (e.g., at least about 15 contiguous bases) specific for the nucleic acid molecule described herein under high stringency conditions, sufficiently to allow hybridization between the sample and the probe; and detecting the nucleic acid molecule that hybridizes to the oligonucleotide probe in the sample. The presence of hybridization of the probe indicates M. tuberculosis infection, and the absence of hybridization indicates an absence of M. tuberculosis infection. Methods for hybridization are well known, and such methods are provided in U.S. Pat. No. 5,837,490, by Jacobs et al., the entire teachings of which are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety. The design of the oligonucleotide probe should preferably follow these parameters: (a) it should be designed to an area of the sequence which has the fewest ambiguous bases ("N's"), if any, and (b) it should be designed to have a Tm of approx. 80 ° Celsius (assuming 2 ° Celsius for each A or T and 4°Cfor each G or C).
The present invention encompasses detection of TB polypeptides of the present invention in a sample using with PCR methods using primers disclosed or derived from sequences described herein. For example, the sequences described herein can be detected by PCR using SEQ ID Nos: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, or combinations thereof. PCR is the selective amplification of a target sequence by repeated rounds of nucleic acid replication utilizing sequence-specific primers and a thermostable polymerase. PCR allows recovery of entire sequences between two ends of known sequence. Specifically, contacting the sample with at least two oligonucleotide primers in a PCR5 wherein at least one of the oligonucleotide primers (e.g., at least about 10 contiguous bases ) is specific for one or more of the isolated nucleic acid molecules described herein. The two are contacted sufficiently to allow amplification of the primers. The amplified nucleic acid sequence in the sample is detected. The presence any one of the amplified nucleic acid sequences indicate M. tuberculosis infection, and the absence of any one of the amplified nucleic acid sequences indicate an absence of M. tuberculosis infection. Methods of PCR are described herein and are known in the art.
Hence, the present invention includes kits for the detection of SEQ ID Nos:2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, or combinations thereof, or the quantification of these sequences, having either antibodies specific for them or a portion thereof, or a nucleic acid sequence that can hybridize to the nucleic acid of encoding these sequences.
Additional immunological or nucleic acid assessments can be performed using methods known in the art. Assays, known in the art or those later developed can be used to assess the antigenic TB polypeptides in a sample.
In addition to measuring the presence of antigenic TB polypeptides in a sample, assays exist to determine the efficacy of a TB vaccine (e.g., the extent to which the immune response is stimulated). These types of assays can be used together to fully assess a person's TB status. For examples, an individual who has a TB-specific immunogenic response, but tests negative to the presence of one or more the antigenic TB polypeptides in a sample, is one who has a level of immunity to the disease. However, a person who has a TB-specific immunogenic response and tests positive to the presence of the antigenic TB polypeptides of the present invention is someone who likely has TB.
The efficacy of a TB vaccine can be measured by determining the immunogenic response of the person who received the vaccine. The TB antigens of the present invention (and immunogenic portions thereof) described herein have the ability to induce an immunogenic response. More specifically, the antigens have the ability to induce proliferation and/or cytokine production (i.e., interferon-γ and/or interleukin-12 production) in T cells, NK cells, B cells and/or macrophages derived from an M. tuberculosis-immune individual. See Example 3.
The selection of cell type for use in evaluating an immunogenic response to a antigen will, of course, depend on the desired response. For example, interleukin-12 production is most readily evaluated using preparations containing B-cells and/or macrophages. An M. tuberculosis-ivamune individual is one who is considered to be resistant to the development of tuberculosis by virtue of having mounted an effective T cell response to M. tuberculosis (i.e., substantially free of disease symptoms). Such individuals can be identified based on a strongly positive (i.e., greater than about 10 mm diameter induration) intradermal skin test response to tuberculosis proteins using a Purified Protein Derivative (PPD) and an absence of any signs or symptoms of tuberculosis disease. T cells, NK cells, B cells and macrophages derived from M. tuberculosis-immune, individuals can be prepared using methods known to those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, a preparation of PBMCs (i.e., peripheral blood mononuclear cells) can be employed without further separation of component cells. PBMCs can generally be prepared, for example, using density centrifugation through Ficoll (Wintlirop Laboratories, NY). T cells for use in the assays described herein can also be purified directly from PBMCs. Alternatively, an enriched T cell line reactive against
mycobacterial proteins, or T cell clones reactive to individual mycobacterial proteins, can be employed. Such T cell clones can be generated by, for example, culturing PBMCs from M.
tuberculosis-immune individuals with mycobacterial proteins for a period of 2-4 weeks. This allows expansion of only the mycobacterial protein-specific T cells, resulting in a line composed solely of such cells. These cells can then be cloned and tested with individual proteins, using methods known to those of ordinary skill in the art, to more accurately define individual T cell specificity. In general, antigens that test positive in assays for proliferation and/or cytokine production (i.e., interferon-γ and/or interleukin-12 production) performed using T cells, NK cells, B cells and/or macrophages derived from an M. tuberculosis-immune individual are considered immunogenic. Such assays can be performed, for example, using the representative procedures described below. Immunogenic portions of such antigens can be identified using similar assays, and can be present within the polypeptides described herein.
The ability of a polypeptide (e.g., an immunogenic antigen, or a portion or other variant thereof) to induce cell proliferation can be evaluated by contacting the cells (e.g., T cells and/or NK cells) with the polypeptide and measuring the proliferation of the cells. In general, the amount of polypeptide that is sufficient for evaluation of about 105 cells ranges from about 10 ng/mL to about 100 μg/mL and preferably is about 10 μg/mL. The incubation of polypeptide with cells is typically performed at 37° C. for about six days. Following incubation with polypeptide, the cells are assayed for a proliferative response, which can be evaluated by methods known to those of ordinary skill in the art, such as exposing cells to a pulse of radiolabeled thymidine and measuring the incorporation of label into cellular DNA. In general, a polypeptide that results in at least a three fold increase in proliferation above background (i.e., the proliferation observed for cells cultured without polypeptide) is considered to be able to induce proliferation.
The ability of a polypeptide to stimulate the production of interferon- γ and/or interleukin-12 in cells can be evaluated by contacting the cells with the polypeptide and measuring the level of interferon-γ or interleukin-12 produced by the cells, as demonstrated in Example 3. In general, the amount of polypeptide that is sufficient for the evaluation of about 105 cells ranges from about 10 ng/mL to about 100 μg/mL and preferably is about 10 μg/mL. The polypeptide can, but need not, be immobilized on a solid support, such as a bead or a biodegradable microsphere, such as those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,897,268 and 5,075,109. The incubation of polypeptide with the cells is typically performed at 37° C. for about six days. Following incubation with polypeptide, the cells are assayed for interferon-γ. and/or interleukin-12 (or one or more subunits thereof), which can be evaluated by methods known to those of ordinary skill in the art, such as an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or, in the case of IL- 12 P70 subunit, a bioassay such as an assay measuring proliferation of T cells. In general, a polypeptide that results in the production of at least 50 pg of interferon-γ per mL of cultured supernatant (containing 104 -105 T cells per mL) is considered able to stimulate the production of interferon-γ. A polypeptide that stimulates the production of at least 10 pg/mL of IL- 12 P70 subunit, and/or at least 100 pg/mL of IL- 12 P40 subunit, per 105 macrophages or B cells (or per 3X105 PBMC) is considered able to stimulate the production of IL- 12.
In general, immunogenic antigens are those antigens that stimulate proliferation and/or cytokine production (i.e., interferon-γ. and/or interleukin-12 production) in T cells, NK cells, B cells and/or macrophages derived from at least about 25% of M. tuberculosis-immxme individuals. Among these immunogenic antigens, polypeptides having superior therapeutic properties can be distinguished based on the magnitude of the responses in the above assays and based on the percentage of individuals for which a response is observed. In addition, antigens having superior therapeutic properties will not stimulate proliferation and/or cytokine production in vitro in cells derived from more than about 25% of individuals who are not M. tuberculosis-immune, thereby eliminating responses that are not specifically due to M. tuberculosis-responsive cells. Those antigens that induce a response in a high percentage of T cell, NK cell, B cell and/or macrophage preparations from M. tuberculosis-immune individuals (with a low incidence of responses in cell preparations from other individuals) have superior therapeutic properties.

Fusion Proteins, Vaccine Compositions, Mode and Manner of Administration
The TB polypeptides of the present invention can be in the form of a conjugate or a fusion protein, which can be manufactured by known methods. In particular, 2 or more of the sequences, SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, or 48 can be fused to one another, or with other proteins, to provide a more effective vaccine composition, and stimulate an improved immunogenic response. Other proteins that can be used to make such a fusion protein include TB antigens that simulate the CD4+ T cell pathway of the immune response. Examples of such antigens include Antigen 85b, ESAT-6, MtB41, Mtb39. The TB polypeptides of the present invention were isolated from MHC class 1 molecules, molecules known for presenting antigens to CD8+ T cells. Although it is possible for these polypeptides to be also presented in the CD4+ pathway, fusing a CD4+ T-cell pathway antigen with one of the polypeptides of the present invention can serve to increase effectiveness of the TB vaccine. Fusion proteins can be
manufactured according to known methods of recombinant DNA technology. For example, fusion proteins can be expressed from a nucleic acid molecule comprising sequences which code for a biologically active portion of the TB polypeptides or the entire TB polypeptides set forth in SEQ ID Nos:2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48 or combinations thereof, and its fusion partner, for example another sequence of the present invention, a portion of an immunoglobulin molecule, or another TB antigen from the CD4+ T cell pathway. For example, some embodiments can be produced by the intersection of a nucleic acid encoding immunoglobulin sequences into a suitable expression vector, phage vector, or other commercially available vectors. The resulting construct can be introduced into a suitable host cell for expression. Upon expression, the fusion proteins can be isolated or purified from a cell by means of an affinity matrix. By measurement of the alternations in the functions of transfected cells occurring as a result of expression of recombinant TB proteins, either the cells themselves or TB proteins produced from the cells can be utilized in a variety of screening assays.

As noted above, in certain aspects the inventive compositions comprise fusion proteins or DNA fusion molecules. Each fusion protein comprises a first and a second inventive polypeptide or, alternatively, a polypeptide of the present invention and a known M. tuberculosis antigen, together with variants of such fusion proteins. The fusion proteins of the present invention can also include a linker peptide between the first and second polypeptides. The DNA fusion molecules of the present invention comprise a first and a second isolated DNA molecule, each isolated DNA molecule encoding either an inventive M. tuberculosis antigen or a known M. tuberculosis antigen.
A DNA sequence encoding a fusion protein of the present invention is constructed using known recombinant DNA techniques to assemble separate DNA sequences encoding the first and second polypeptides into an appropriate expression vector, as described in detail below. The 3' end of a DNA sequence encoding the first polypeptide is ligated, with or without a peptide linker, to the 5' end of a DNA sequence encoding the second polypeptide so that the reading frames of the sequences are in phase to permit mRNA translation of the two DNA sequences into a single fusion protein that retains the biological activity of both the first and the second polypeptides.
A peptide linker sequence can be employed to separate the first and the second polypeptides by a distance sufficient to ensure that each polypeptide folds into its secondary and tertiary structures. Such a peptide linker sequence is incorporated into the fusion protein using standard techniques well known in the art. Suitable peptide linker sequences can be chosen based on the following factors: (1) their ability to adopt a flexible extended conformation; (2) their inability to adopt a secondary structure that could interact with functional epitopes on the first and second polypeptides; and (3) the lack of hydrophobic or charged residues that might react with the polypeptide functional epitopes. Prefeiτed peptide linker sequences contain GIy, Asn and Ser residues. Other near neutral amino acids, such as Thr and Ala can also be used in the linker sequence. Amino acid sequences which can be usefully employed as linkers include those disclosed in Maratea et al, Gene 40:39-46, 1985; Murphy et al, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 83:8258-8262, 1986; U.S. Pat. No. 4,935,233 and U.S. Pat. No. 4,751,180. The linker sequence can be from 1 to about 50 amino acids in length. Peptide sequences are not required when the first and second polypeptides have non-essential N-terminal amino acid regions that can be used to separate the functional domains and prevent steric interference.

The ligated DNA sequences are operably linked to suitable transcriptional or translational regulatory elements. The regulatory elements responsible for expression of DNA are located only 5' to the DNA sequence encoding the first polypeptides. Similarly, stop codons require to end translation and transcription termination signals are only present 3' to the DNA sequence encoding the second polypeptide.
Efficacy of a vaccine including the isolated sequences of the present invention can be determined based on the ability of the antigen to provide at least about a 50% (e.g., about a 60%, about a 70%, about a 80%, about a 90%, or about a 100%) reduction in bacterial numbers and/or at least about a 40% (e.g., about a 50%, about a 60%, about a 70%, about a 80%, about a 90%, or about a 100%) decrease in mortality following experimental infection in a challenge experiment. Suitable experimental animals include mice, guinea pigs and primates.
The compositions of the present invention are preferably formulated as either
pharmaceutical compositions or as vaccines for in the induction of protective immunity against tuberculosis in a patient. A patient can be afflicted with a disease, or can be free of detectable disease and/or infection. In other words, protective immunity can be induced to prevent, reduce the severity of, or treat tuberculosis.
In one embodiment, pharmaceutical compositions of the present invention comprise one or more of the above polypeptides, either present as a mixture or in the form of a fusion protein, and a physiologically acceptable carrier. Similarly, vaccines comprise one or more the above polypeptides and a non-specific immune response enhancer, such as an adjuvant or a liposome (into which the polypeptide is incorporated).
In another embodiment, a pharmaceutical composition and/or vaccine of the present invention can contain one or more of the DNA molecules of the present invention, either present as a mixture or in the form of a DNA fusion molecule, each DNA molecule encoding a polypeptide as described above, such that the polypeptide is generated in situ. In such vaccines, the DNA can be present within any of a variety of delivery systems known to those of ordinary skill in the art, including nucleic acid expression systems, bacterial and viral expression systems. Appropriate nucleic acid expression systems contain the necessary DNA sequences for expression in the patient (such as a suitable promoter and terminating signal). Bacterial delivery systems involve the administration of a bacterium (such as Bacillus-Calmette-Guerrin) that expresses an immunogenic portion of the polypeptide on its cell surface. In a preferred embodiment, the DNA can be introduced using a viral expression system (e.g., vaccinia or other pox virus, retrovirus, or adenovirus), which can involve the use of a non-pathogenic (defective), replication competent virus. Techniques for incorporating DNA into such expression systems are well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. The DNA can also be "naked," as described, for example, in Ulmer et al., Science 259:1745-1749, 1993 and reviewed by Cohen, Science 259:1691-1692, 1993. The uptake of naked DNA can be increased by coating the DNA onto biodegradable beads, which are efficiently transported into the cells.
The antigenic TB molecules of the present invention can be administered with or without a carrier. The terms "pharmaceutically acceptable carrier" or a "carrier" refer to any generally acceptable excipient or drug delivery composition that is relatively inert and non-toxic. Exemplary carriers include sterile water, salt solutions (such as Ringer's solution), alcohols, gelatin, talc, viscous paraffin, fatty acid esters, hydroxymethylcellulose, polyvinyl pyrolidone, calcium carbonate, carbohydrates (such as lactose, sucrose, dextrose, mannose, albumin, starch, cellulose, silica gel, polyethylene glycol (PEG), dried skim milk, rice flour, magnesium stearate, and the like. Suitable formulations and additional carriers are described in Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, (17th Ed., Mack Pub. Co., Easton, PA). Such preparations can be sterilized and, if desired, mixed with auxiliary agents, e.g., lubricants, preservatives, stabilizers, wetting agents, emulsifiers, salts for influencing osmotic pressure, buffers, coloring, preservatives and/or aromatic substances and the like which do not deleteriously react with the active compounds. Typical preservatives can include, potassium sorbate, sodium metabisulfite, methyl paraben, propyl paraben, thimerosal, etc. The compositions can also be combined where desired with other active substances, e.g., enzyme inhibitors, to reduce metabolic degradation. A carrier (e.g., a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier) is preferred, but not necessary to administer the compound.
The composition can be a liquid solution, suspension, emulsion, tablet, pill, capsule, sustained release formulation, or powder. The method of administration can dictate how the composition will be formulated. For example, the composition can be formulated as a suppository, with traditional binders and carriers such as triglycerides. Oral formulation can include standard carriers such as pharmaceutical grades of mannitol, lactose, starch, magnesium stearate, sodium saccharine, cellulose, magnesium carbonate, etc.

The antigenic TB molecules used in the invention can be administered intravenously, parenterally, intramuscular, subcutaneously, orally, nasally, topically, by inhalation, by implant, by injection, or by suppository. The composition can be administered in a single dose or in more than one dose over a period of time to confer the desired effect.
The actual effective amounts of compound or drug can vary according to the specific composition being utilized, the mode of administration and the age, weight and condition of the patient. For example, as used herein, an effective amount of the drug is an amount which reduces the number of bacteria. Dosages for a particular individual patient can be determined by one of ordinary skill in the art using conventional considerations, (e.g. by means of an appropriate, conventional pharmacological protocol).
For enteral or mucosal application (including via oral and nasal mucosa), particularly suitable are tablets, liquids, drops, suppositories or capsules. A syrup, elixir or the like can be used wherein a sweetened vehicle is employed. Liposomes, microspheres, and microcapsules are available and can be used.
Pulmonary administration can be accomplished, for example, using any of various delivery devices known in the art such as an inhaler. See. e.g., S.P. Newman (1984) in Aerosols and the Lung, Clarke and Davis (eds.), Butterworths, London, England, pp. 197-224; PCT Publication No. WO 92/16192; PCT Publication No. WO 91/08760.
For parenteral application, particularly suitable are injectable, sterile solutions, preferably oily or aqueous solutions, as well as suspensions, emulsions, or implants, including suppositories, hi particular, carriers for parenteral administration include aqueous solutions of dextrose, saline, pure water, ethanol, glycerol, propylene glycol, peanut oil, sesame oil,
polyoxyethylene-polyoxypropylene block polymers, and the like. Ampules are convenient unit dosages.
Biodegradable microspheres (e.g., polylactic galactide) can also be employed as carriers for the pharmaceutical compositions of this invention. Suitable biodegradable microspheres are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,897,268 and 5,075,109.
Any of a variety of adjuvants can be employed in the vaccines of this invention to enhance the immune response. Most adjuvants contain a substance designed to protect the antigen from rapid catabolism, such as aluminum hydroxide or mineral oil, and a nonspecific stimulator of immune responses, such as lipid A, Bortadella pertussis or Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Suitable adjuvants are commercially available and include, for example, Freund's Incomplete Adjuvant and Freund's Complete Adjuvant (Difco Laboratories) and Merck Adjuvant 65 (Merck and Company, Inc., Rahway, NJ.). Other suitable adjuvants include alum, biodegradable microspheres,
monophosphoryl lipid A and quil A.
In the inventive vaccines, it is preferred that the adjuvant induces an immune response comprising ThI aspects. Suitable adjuvant systems include, for example, a combination of monophosphoryl lipid A, preferably 3-de-O-acylated monophosphoryl lipid A (3D-MLP) together with an aluminum salt. An enhanced system involves the combination of a monophosphoryl lipid A and a saponin derivative, particularly the combination of 3D-MLP and the saponin QS21 as disclosed in WO 94/00153, or a less reactogenic composition where the QS21 is quenched with cholesterol as disclosed in WO 96/33739. Previous experiments have demonstrated a clear synergistic effect of combinations of 3D-MLP and QS21 in the induction of both humoral and ThI type cellular immune responses. A particularly potent adjuvant formation involving QS21, 3D-MLP and tocopherol in an oil-in- water emulsion is described in WO 95/17210 and is a preferred formulation.
The administration of the antigenic TB polypeptide molecules of the present invention and other compounds can occur simultaneously or sequentially in time. A DNA vaccine and/or pharmaceutical composition as described above can be administered simultaneously with or sequentially to an additional polypeptide of the present invention, a known M. tuberculosis antigen, an immune enhancer, or other compound known in the art that would be administered with such a vaccine. The compound can be administered before, after or at the same time as the antigenic TB molecules. Thus, the term "co-administration" is used herein to mean that the antigenic TB molecules and the additional compound (e.g., immune stimulating compound) will be administered at times to achieve a specific TB immune response, as described herein. The methods of the present invention are not limited to the sequence in which the compounds are administered, so long as the compound is administered close enough in time to produce the desired effect.
Routes and frequency of administration of the inventive pharmaceutical compositions and vaccines, as well as dosage, will vary from individual to individual and can parallel those currently being used in immunization using BCG. In general, the pharmaceutical compositions and vaccines can be administered by injection (e.g., intracutaneous, intramuscular, intravenous or subcutaneous), intranasally (e.g., by aspiration), intralung, or orally. Between 1 and 3 doses can be administered for a 1-36 week period. Preferably, 3 doses are administered, at intervals of 3-4 months, and booster vaccinations can be given periodically thereafter. Alternate protocols can be appropriate for individual patients. A suitable dose is an amount of polypeptide or DNA that, when administered as described above, is capable of raising an immune response in an immunized patient sufficient to protect the patient from M. tuberculosis infection for at least 1-2 years. In general, the amount of polypeptide present in a dose (or produced in situ by the DNA in a dose) ranges from about 1 pg to about 100 mg per kg of host, typically from about 10 pg to about 1 mg, and preferably from about 100 pg to about 1 μg. Suitable dose sizes will vary with the size of the patient, but will typically range from about 0.1 mL to about 5 mL.

EXEMPLIFICATION

Example 1 : M. tuberculosis Peptides Associated With MHC Class 1 Molecules
A strategy to detect M. tuberculosis peptides associated with MHC Class I molecules of mouse macrophages infected in vivo was applied to identify the microbial antigens.
The rationale to search for M. tuberculosis antigens or peptides associated with the MHC class I molecules of infected cells is based on the fact that these host cell molecules are crucial to present antigens to CD8+ T cells, a subset of T cells involved in resistance and against tuberculosis. Therefore, this approach of antigen discovery has direct implication in vaccine development strategies against this disease.
The MHC class I-associated M. tuberculosis peptides were isolated from adherent spleen cells of C57BL/6 mice infected with 107 CFU of M. tuberculosis. C57BL/6 mice are considered to be relatively resistant to M. tuberculosis infection, therefore ideal for these studies. The infection with a high inoculum is important to achieve high degree of intra cellular infection in the animals' spleen cells. Between days 10 and 14 of infection the mice spleens contain approximately five times more cells than non-infected controls. A great percentage of the spleen cells are macrophages infected with M. tuberculosis. The mice were sacrificed and their splenic adherent cells were obtained, lysed with CHAPS detergent (Boehringer Mannheim Corp., Indianapolis, IN), and the MHC class I molecules isolated by affinity purification on a protein G sepharose column linked to the anti-H-2 K/Db monoclonal antibody (ATCC HB-11). The procedure is summarized in Fig. 3.
The eluted peptides comprising a mixture of molecules below 5 kDa were ultra filtrated over a Millipore Ultrafree-CL 5 kDa cutoff were then fractionated by microbore reverse phase HPLC (Delta-Pak Cl 8 column, 300 A pore size, 5μ particle). The HPLC profiles rendered several peaks, which were individually analyzed by microcapillary liquid chromatography coupled with
electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to determine the molecular weight and abundance of all peptide species. The mass of the candidate peptides was then obtained by collision activated dissociation (CAD) tandem mass spectra (MS/MS).
The peptide sequences were searched for identity with known proteins in both the M.
tuberculosis and mouse genome databases (The Institute for Genomic Research). Several peptides had strong homology with mouse protein. However seven peptide and nucleic acid sequences were identified to being of M. tuberculosis origin (Fig. 1). The corresponding genes encoding the protein donor of these peptides are being cloned and will be expressed using standard procedures. In addition, bacterial plasmid DNA containing these M. tuberculosis genes will be prepared. Both, recombinant protein and plasmid DNA will be used in immunization protocols aiming to investigate the protection potential of these molecules to protect mice against challenge with virulent M.
tuberculosis. The protein formulation will the used to test CD4+ response and the DNA
immunization will target CD8+ T cell response.

Example 2: A M tuberculosis Antigen Found in the Urine of Infected Mice
A strategy to detect M. tuberculosis antigens in the urine of infected mice was applied to identify the microbial antigens in the urine of patients with active tuberculosis.
Antigen detection assays, in contrast to conventional serology, detect disease status and not the host antibody response to the disease etiological agent. It can therefore be used for both diagnosis and treatment follow up. In the present project an antigen discovery approach to identify

M. tuberculosis antigens in the urine of human patients was used. Additionally, recombinant proteins will be produced and validated as markers of active disease.
Individual urines (15mL) were loaded onto a 15mL capacity Vivaspin 5K MWCO filtered and centrifuged at 3000G at 4°C until the retentate volume was <2mL. The concentrate was removed from the membrane by rinsing with 6M urea 10OmM ammonium bicarbonate. Final concentrates were brought up to 4mL with 6M Urea 10OmM ammonium bicarbonate pH 8.5. To each protein concentrate sample was added 2OmL of 2M DTT. Samples were vortexed and incubated at 37°C for 1 hour. Reduced cysteines were alkylated by adding 20OmL of 0.5M iodoacetamide to each sample. Samples were vortexed and allowed to react for 1 hour at room temperature in the dark. Residual iodoacetamide was quenched with 15mL of 2M DTT. From the 4mL stock sample, 30OuL was removed for gel analysis.
Gels were imaged with a Kodak DC280 Digital Camera fitted with a +10 Macro lens.
Images were processed using Adobe Photoshop and printed out. Gels were cut with a clean razor blade into 33 gel slices each while marking positions of the cuts for each slice. Slices were then placed into 2mL centrifuge tubes. All further processing of the samplers was perfomed in a dual isolation BioSafety Cabinet. The tubes with gel slices were filled to 2mL with 50% methanol, 5% acetic acid, and rinsed three times with additional aliquots of 50% methanol, 5% acetic acid. The destain solution was removed and the tubes filled with 2mL of acetonitrile. After 30 minutes with agitation, the acetonitrile was removed and replaced with 10OmM ammonium bicarbonate. After 30 minutes the ammonium bicarbonate solution was removed and the tubes were filled with acetonitrile. This acetonitrile, ammonium bicarbonate rinsing step was repeated once. The final acetonitrile wash was removed just prior to digestion and the gel slices dried for 30 minutes in a speedvac. The tubes containing the dried gel slices were placed on ice and allowed to cool.
Promega Sequencing grade trypsin was dissolved in ice cold 5OmM ammonium bicarbonate to a concentration of 13.3mg/mL. Using a repeating pipettor, 125mL of the trypsin solution was added to the bottom of each tube. The gel slices were allowed to swell for 15 minutes on ice, after which an additional 125 niL of 5OmM ammonium bicarbonate was added to each tube. The tubes were then capped and incubated for 16 hours at 37°C. After digestion 65OmL of 5OmM ammonium bicarbonate was added to each tube. The samples were then incubated for 1 hour at 37°C. The first set of extracts were removed and placed into labeled Axygen 1.5mL tubes, a second extraction of 65OmL ammonium bicarbonate was carried out and pooled with the first. These extracts were then lyophilized while two acidic extractions of 65OmL of 50% acetonitrile 0.1% formic acid were carried out. All extracts were frozen to -80°C and lyophilized to dryness in a ThermoSavant SC280 speedvac <1 OmTorr. The lyophilate was redissolved into 20OmL of 5% acetonitrile 0.1 % formic acid. Appropriate volumes ot each extract (1-6, 10mL)(7-12, 2OmL) (13-18, 35mL) (19-33, 5OmL ) were added to a 96 well plate to approximate protein molarity load and protein from each MW region of the gel, the plate was frozen to -80°C and lyophilized again. All samples were redissolved in 12 mL of 5% acetonitrile 0.1% formic acid.
Samples were then evaluated by Mass Spectrometry on a LCQ DECA XP plus Proteome X workstation from Thermofinnigan. For each run 1OmL of each reconstituted sample were injected with a Famos Autosampler while the separation was done on a 75mm i.d. x 18cm column packed with Cl 8 media running at a 235nL a minute flow rate provided from a Surveyor MS pump with a flow splitter with a gradient of 5-60% water 0.1% formic acid, acetonitrile 0.1% formic acid over the course of 90min.(2.5 hour run), 180minutes(4 hour run), or 400 minutes(8 hour run). In between each set of samples was run two standards of a 5 Angio mix peptides (Michrom
BioResources) to ascertain column performance, and observe any potential carryover that might have occurred. The LCQ was run in a top five configuration with one MS scans and five MS/MS scans. Dynamic exclusion was set to 1 with a limit of 30 seconds. Peptide ID's were made using Sequest through the Bioworks Browser 3.1. Sequential database searches was made using the

NCBI RefSeqHuman Database using differential carbamidomethyl modified cysteines and oxidized methionines, followed by further searches using differential modifications. Secondary searches were performed using Sequest using RefSeqHuman Gnomon predicted protein database. In this fashion known and theoretical protein hits can be found without compromising the statistical relevance of all the data. Peptide score cutoff values were chosen at Xcorr of 1.8 for singly charged ions, 2.5 for doubly charged ions, and 3.0 for triply charged ions, along with deltaCN values of 0.1, and RSP values of 1. The cross correlation values chosen for each peptide assure a high confidence match for the different charge states, while the deltaCN cutoff insures the uniqueness of the peptide hit. The RSP value of 1 ensured that the peptide matched the top hit in the preliminary scoring and that the peptide fragment file only matched to one protein hit. Using this state of art approach several human peptides were identified but most importantly we were able thus far to identify at least five M. tuberculosis peptides in the urine of three out of the six urine samples studied. One of the sequences of the identified peptide (MVIIELMRR - SEQ ID NO: 30) has identical homology with the deduced sequence of a M tuberculosis protein (Fig. 2) [The Institute for Genomic
Research (TIGR), and SWISS-PROT/TrEMBL AC # 033183]. Four other sequences were identified, SEQ ID NO: 34, 38, 42, 46, shown in Figs. 5-9, respectively. These peptide sequence was found in three out of six urine samples from tuberculosis patients. PCR primers were designed and synthesized and used to amplify the full-length gene encoding this protein from M. tuberculosis genomic DNA. A DNA fragment (~1 kb) containing at the 5' end an Nde I site and at the 3' end a Bam HI site, was obtained and is currently been used to clone and expressed the gene.

Example 3: Production, Purification and Characterization of M. tuberculosis recombinant proteins

Concentrated efforts have been made to produce, purify, and characterize the recombinant proteins that are replicas five proteins of M. tuberculosis found in the urine of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis, as described herein. Three of them (MTP 1694 (SEQ ID NO: 42),
MTP2462 (SEQ ID NO: 46)) and (MT2990 (SEQ ID NO: 38)) have been obtained and their biochemical and biological properties characterized. The three proteins were purified from inclusion bodies with yields ranging from 10 to 15 mg of purified protein per liter of induced culture. Fig. 10 illustrates the over-expression of the recombinant molecules, MTl 694, MT2462, and MT2990, in E. coli and shows that they migrated to positions in the gel that correspond to their expected Molecular Weight (MW). Recombinant proteins were expressed in E. coli
BL-21(DE3)/pLysS host cells with six His-tag amino terminal residues. Proteins were purified by affinity chromatography using Ni-NTA agarose matrix. Purity was evaluated by SDS-PAGE (4-20% gradient polyacrylamide gel) followed by Coomassie blue stain. Because the MT2990 gene codes for a protein of 130.6 kDa MW, which is a molecule size that is difficult to express as recombinant protein, overlapping/truncated forms of this molecule were cloned and expressed. The cloned and expressed protein illustrated in Fig. 10 represents a fragment of the full length gene that spans 100 amino acids, both upstream and downstream of the amino acid sequence of the M.
tuberculosis protein (MT2990) that has identical homology with the peptide found in the urine of tuberculosis patients. This fragment of the molecule was chosen because this portion of the protein it is stable and resistant to the host proteolytic enzyme machinery, therefore a vaccine target.
Rabbit antisera to MTP 1694 and MTP2462 recombinant proteins were produced and an antiserum to MT2990 is being and can be generated. The antisera to MTP 1694 and MTP2462 were used to validate identified proteins as a genuine M. tuberculosis molecules, which was carried out by Western blot analyses using a crude antigenic preparations of M. tuberculosis antigen (whole bacterial cell extract) as well as culture filtrate(CF) or CF antigens (supplied by the Dept. Microbiol. Immunol. Pathol., Colorado State University, Fort Collins CO). Antigens were electrophoresed under reducing conditions in a 4-20% gradient gel and transferred to nitrocellulose membrane followed by probing with either rabbit anti-MTB1694 or anti-MT2462 antisera. Reactivity was detected with peroxidase labeled goat-anti-rabbit immunoglobulin and developed using a cherniluminescent reagent (ECL). Fig. 11 indicates that the anti-MTP1694 antiserum recognizes a band of ~37 IcDa in both the mycobacterial lysate and culture filtrate preparations (lanes 1 and 2) as well as, as expected, the recombinant protein (lane 3). In contrast, the anti-MTP2462 antiserum recognizes a band of ~27 kDa in only in the bacterial lysate and not in the culture filtrate. The MW bands of both antigens match their predicted MW. In addition, the MW of the recombinant molecules are slightly higher than the native molecules, which is expected because the recombinant molecules have, in addition to the sequences of the native molecules, a stretch of 16 amino acids derived from the cloning vector (a tag of six histidines to facilitate purification and a thrombin site composed of 10 amino acids to allow cleavage of the his-tag). These results therefore confirm that both MTP 1694 and MTP2462 are genuine M. tuberculosis proteins that are actively produced during the bacterial growth. In addition, because the antigen MTP 1694 is present in the culture filtrate preparation ("M tuberculosis secrete protein") these results demonstrate this molecule to be useful as a vaccine.
To evaluate the use of the identified antigens as vaccine targets for humans, the response of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained from healthy PPD (an intradermal skin test response to tuberculosis proteins using a Purified Protein Derivative) positive donors to these antigens was analyzed. Thus far, four healthy PPD positive and one PPD negative donors have been tested with the antigens MTPl 694 and MTP2462. The recombinant protein (MT299) mentioned above, had not been available at the time that these assays were performed. To test for the antigen recognition, both antigen induced proliferative response and production of IFN- γ were used, following stimulation with recombinant antigens (5ug/πύ). Proliferation was measured by [3H]TdR incorporation and results are expressed as counts per minute (CPM). IFN-γ was measured by sandwich ELISA in the culture supernatants. The results are expressed in Figs. 12A and B and indicate that both antigens are readily recognized by PBMC of three out the four PPD positive donors. No response was observed with the PBMC obtained from the PPD negative donor. These results suggest that these antigens will be recognized by a high percentage of the healthy PPD positive individuals (presumably resistant). In addition, because the proliferative response was accompanied by the production of IFN-γ, MTl 649 and MT2462 is associated with protection against tuberculosis, therefore these molecules are vaccine targets.

The relevant teachings of all the references, patents and/or patent applications cited herein are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
The teachings of the following patents are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety: U.S. Patent No.: 6,627,198, entitled, "Fusion proteins of Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens and their uses;"U.S. Patent No.: 6,613,881, entitled, "Compounds for immunotherapy and diagnosis of tuberculosis and methods of their use;" "U.S. Patent No.: 6,592,877, entitled, "Compounds and methods for immunotherapy and diagnosis of tuberculosis;" "U.S. Patent No.: 6,555,653, entitled, "Compounds for diagnosis of tuberculosis and methods of their uses;"U.S. Patent No.: 6,544,522, entitled, "Fusion proteins of Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens and their uses; "U.S. Patent No.: 6,458,366, entitled, "Compounds and methods for diagnosis of tuberculosis;" "U.S. Patent No.: 6,338,852 entitled, "Compounds and methods for diagnosis of tuberculosis;" and "U.S. Patent No.: 6,290,969, entitled, "Compounds and methods for immunotherapy and diagnosis of tuberculosis."

While this invention has been particularly shown and described with references to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details can be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention encompassed by the appended claims.