Biomedical Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-24-2020


Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ng) is a sexually transmitted bacterium that infects human reproductive mucosal surfaces. Due to the risk of complications in untreated cases and evolving antibiotic resistance, a prophylactic vaccine is critical for preventing infection. There are four Ng outer-membrane proteins that contribute to Ng survival and resistance: PorB, BamA, TbpA, and MtrE. Each protein contains surface-exposed loops that are targets of bactericidal antibodies. Vaccines were developed by displaying Ng epitopes on the surface of bacteriophage virus-like particles (VLP). VLPs are immunogenic, multivalent, self-assembling complexes composed of viral structural proteins. Antigenic peptide sequences can be displayed on the surface of VLPs via chemical conjugation or genetic insertion (recombination) into the structural protein sequence.

Thirty-seven VLP vaccines displaying Ng epitopes were constructed. Mice were vaccinated with VLPs, and antibody responses were measured. Immunogenicity studies demonstrated that the majority of VLPs elicited high-titer, peptide-specific antibody responses that may neutralize whole pathogen.


Vaccine, virus-like particle, Gonorrhea

Document Type




Degree Name

Biomedical Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

First Committee Member (Chair)

Bryce Chackerian

Second Committee Member

Dave Peabody

Third Committee Member

Judy Cannon

Fourth Committee Member

Pamela Hall

Fifth Committee Member

Kathryn Frietze