Brucella abortus strain RB51 is an attenuated rough strain that is currently being used as the official live vaccine for bovine brucellosis in the United States and several other countries. We reasoned that overexpression of a protective antigen(s) of B. abortus in strain RB51 should enhance its vaccine efficacy. To test this hypothesis, we overexpressed Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) protein of B. abortus in strain RB51. This was accomplished by transforming strain RB51 with a broad-host-range plasmid, pBBR1MCS, containing the sodC gene along with its promoter. Strain RB51 overexpressing SOD (RB51SOD) was tested in BALB/c mice for its ability to protect against challenge infection with virulent strain 2308. Mice vaccinated with RB51SOD, but not RB51, developed antibodies and cell-mediated immune responses to Cu/Zn SOD. Strain RB51SOD vaccinated mice developed significantly (P < 0.05) more resistance to challenge than those vaccinated with strain RB51 alone. The presence of the plasmid alone in strain RB51 did not alter its vaccine efficacy. Also, overexpression of SOD did not alter the attenuation characteristic of strain RB51
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