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Protein glycans as vaccine antigens against Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Protein glycans as vaccine antigens against Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the causative agent of the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhoea, represents an emerging global health problem with increasing antibiotic resistance. Vaccine development is complicated by the fact that gonorrhoea infections fail to engender protective immunity. A successful vaccine against gonorrhoea should therefore include multiple antigens and induce a protective immune response beyond that generated through natural infections.

Identification of suitable vaccine targets remains a bottleneck and identification of conserved antigens through comparative genomics overlooks post-translational modifications. Here, we aim at providing proof-of-concept for protein glycans as important vaccine antigens against gonorrhoea. The glycoproteins identified in N. gonorrhoeae are mainly lipoproteins or transmembrane proteins localized in the periplasm or on the cell surface, and we have established that the attached glycans are antigenic and immunogenic.

We have interesting results that protein glycans are protecting the gonococci against bactericidal activity and indirect results that antibodies against these glycans might be bactericidal. We will confirm and validate these results in different strains and investigate the molecular mechanisms behind these observations by using a panel of mutant strains that express different glycans or glycoproteins. Recent studies have shown decreased rates of gonorrhea after vaccination with meningococcal outer membrane vesicle (OMV) vaccines, and we will identify the glycoproteins and attached glycans within these OMV vaccines.


“This work was supported by the Bacterial Vaccines (BactiVac) Network funded by the GCRF Networks in Vaccines Research and Development which was co-funded by the MRC and BBSRC. Additional support was provided by The Department of Health and Social Care as part of the Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), a UK aid programme that supports early-stage innovative research in underfunded areas of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research and development for the benefit of those in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), who bear the greatest burden of AMR. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the UK Department of Health and Social Care.”


Jan Haug Anonsen

Researcher - Mekjarvik

+47 51 87 55 64

Project facts


Protein glycans as vaccine antigens against Neisseria gonorrhoeae




01.11.23 - 30.04.24



Research group



Project members

Bente Børud
Afework Kassu Gizaw
Myron Christodoulides
Jan Haug Anonsen


Folkehelseinstituttet, AHRI Armauer Hansen Research Institute, University of Southampton, NORCE