Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.99, No.14, 5917-5927, 2015
Comprehensive mapping infection-enhancing epitopes of dengue pr protein using polyclonal antibody against prM
Dengue vaccine development is considered a global public health priority, but the antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) issues have critically restricted vaccine development. Recent findings have demonstrated that pre-membrane (prM) protein was involved in dengue virus (DENV) infection enhancement. Although the importance of prM antibodies have been well characterized, only a few epitopes in DENV prM protein have ever been identified. In this study, we screened five potential linear epitopes located at positions pr1 (1-16aa), pr3 (13-28aa), pr4 (19-34aa), pr9 (49-64aa), and pr10 (55-70aa) in pr protein using peptide scanning and comprehensive bioinformatics analysis. Then, we found that only pr4 (19-34aa) could elicit high-titer antibodies in Balb/c mice, and this epitope could react with sera from DENV2-infected patients, suggesting that specific antibodies against epitope peptide pr4 were elicited in both DENV-infected mice and human. In addition, our data demonstrated that anti-pr4 sera showed limited neutralizing activity but significant ADE activity toward standard DENV serotypes and imDENV. Hence, it seems responsible to hypothesize that anti-pr4 serum was infection-enhancing antibody and pr4 was infection-enhancing epitope. In conclusion, we characterized a novel infection-enhancing epitope on dengue pr protein, a finding that may provide new insight into the pathogenesis of DENV infection and contribute to dengue vaccine design.