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1.  A monoclonal antibody defines a geographically conserved surface protein epitope of Babesia equi merozoites. 
Infection and Immunity  1991;59(7):2412-2417.
Babesiosis is a tick-borne hemoparasitic disease affecting horses worldwide. To investigate mechanisms of immunity to this parasite, the antibody response of infected horses to Babesia equi merozoite proteins was evaluated. Immunoprecipitation of B. equi merozoite antigens with sera from infected horses revealed 11 major proteins of 210, 144, 108, 88, 70, 56, 44, 36, 34, 28, and 25 kDa. Monoclonal antibody (MAb) 36/133.97, which binds to live merozoites, immunoprecipitated proteins of 44, 36, 34, and 28 kDa. When immunoprecipitations were performed with in vitro translation products of merozoite mRNA, MAb 36/133.97 immunoprecipitated proteins of 38, 28, 26, and 23 kDa which comigrated with proteins immunoprecipitated by sera from infected horses at 10(-3) to 10(-4) dilutions. In Western blot analysis, MAb 36/133.97 recognized proteins of 44, 36, 34, and 28 kDa, and a 28-kDa protein was identified by sera from infected horses at a dilution of 10(-4). MAb 36/133.97 bound to B. equi isolates from Florida and Europe. Furthermore, the binding of MAb 36/133.97 to merozoite proteins was inhibited by sera of infected horses from 19 countries. Collectively, these data indicate MAb 36/133.97 binds to a geographically conserved peptide epitope on multiple B. equi merozoite proteins, including a merozoite surface protein, and MAb 36/133.97 reacts with a B. equi protein immunodominant in infected horses.
PMCID: PMC258026  PMID: 1711016
2.  Antibody to a recombinant merozoite protein epitope identifies horses infected with Babesia equi. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1992;30(12):3122-3126.
Horses infected with Babesia equi were previously identified by the presence of antibodies reactive with a merozoite surface protein epitope (D. P. Knowles, Jr., L. E. Perryman, L. S. Kappmeyer, and S. G. Hennager. J. Clin. Microbiol. 29:2056-2058, 1991). The antibodies were detected in a competitive inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (CI ELISA) by using monoclonal antibody 36/133.97, which defines a protein epitope on the merozoite surface. The gene encoding this B. equi merozoite epitope was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant merozoite protein, designated equi merozoite antigen 1 (EMA-1), was evaluated in the CI ELISA. Recombinant EMA-1 bound antibody from the sera of B. equi-infected horses from 18 countries. The antibody response to EMA-1 was then measured in horses experimentally infected with B. equi via transmission by the tick vector Boophilus microplus or by intravenous inoculation. Anti-EMA-1 antibody was detected 7 weeks post-tick exposure and remained, without reexposure to B. equi, for the 33 weeks of the evaluation period. The data indicate that recombinant EMA-1 can be used in the CI ELISA to detect horses infected with B. equi.
PMCID: PMC270599  PMID: 1280648
3.  Comparative genomic analysis and phylogenetic position of Theileria equi 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:603.
Transmission of arthropod-borne apicomplexan parasites that cause disease and result in death or persistent infection represents a major challenge to global human and animal health. First described in 1901 as Piroplasma equi, this re-emergent apicomplexan parasite was renamed Babesia equi and subsequently Theileria equi, reflecting an uncertain taxonomy. Understanding mechanisms by which apicomplexan parasites evade immune or chemotherapeutic elimination is required for development of effective vaccines or chemotherapeutics. The continued risk of transmission of T. equi from clinically silent, persistently infected equids impedes the goal of returning the U. S. to non-endemic status. Therefore comparative genomic analysis of T. equi was undertaken to: 1) identify genes contributing to immune evasion and persistence in equid hosts, 2) identify genes involved in PBMC infection biology and 3) define the phylogenetic position of T. equi relative to sequenced apicomplexan parasites.
The known immunodominant proteins, EMA1, 2 and 3 were discovered to belong to a ten member gene family with a mean amino acid identity, in pairwise comparisons, of 39%. Importantly, the amino acid diversity of EMAs is distributed throughout the length of the proteins. Eight of the EMA genes were simultaneously transcribed. As the agents that cause bovine theileriosis infect and transform host cell PBMCs, we confirmed that T. equi infects equine PBMCs, however, there is no evidence of host cell transformation. Indeed, a number of genes identified as potential manipulators of the host cell phenotype are absent from the T. equi genome. Comparative genomic analysis of T. equi revealed the phylogenetic positioning relative to seven apicomplexan parasites using deduced amino acid sequences from 150 genes placed it as a sister taxon to Theileria spp.
The EMA family does not fit the paradigm for classical antigenic variation, and we propose a novel model describing the role of the EMA family in persistence. T. equi has lost the putative genes for host cell transformation, or the genes were acquired by T. parva and T. annulata after divergence from T. equi. Our analysis identified 50 genes that will be useful for definitive phylogenetic classification of T. equi and closely related organisms.
PMCID: PMC3505731  PMID: 23137308
Apicomplexa; Parasite; Vaccine; Horse; Vector-borne disease
4.  Expression of Babesia equi Merozoite Antigen 1 in Insect Cells by Recombinant Baculovirus and Evaluation of Its Diagnostic Potential in an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(2):705-709.
The gene encoding the entire Babesia equi merozoite antigen 1 (EMA-1) was inserted into a baculovirus transfer vector, and a recombinant virus expressing EMA-1 was isolated. The expressed EMA-1 was transported to the surface of infected insect cells, as judged by an indirect fluorescent-antibody test (IFAT). The expressed EMA-1 was also secreted into the supernatant of a cell culture infected with recombinant baculovirus. Both intracellular and extracellular EMA-1 reacted with a specific antibody in Western blots. The expressed EMA-1 had an apparent molecular mass of 34 kDa that was identical to that of native EMA-1. The secreted EMA-1 was used as an antigen in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The ELISA differentiated B. equi-infected horse sera from Babesia caballi-infected horse sera or normal horse sera. The ELISA was more sensitive than the complement fixation test and IFAT. These results demonstrated that the recombinant EMA-1 expressed in insect cells might be a useful diagnostic reagent for detection of antibodies to B. equi.
PMCID: PMC87800  PMID: 11158131
5.  High-Level Expression and Purification of a Truncated Merozoite Antigen-2 of Babesia equi in Escherichia coli and Its Potential for Immunodiagnosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(3):1147-1151.
The gene encoding a truncated merozoite antigen-2 (EMA-2t) of Babesia equi was cloned and highly expressed in Escherichia coli as a glutathione S-transferase fusion protein (G-rEMA-2t). Both G-rEMA-2t and rEMA-2t (after the removal of glutathione S-transferase) had good antigenicity. Either Western blot analysis with rEMA-2t or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with G-rEMA-2t clearly discriminated the sera of horses experimentally infected with B. equi from sera of horses infected with Babesia caballi and healthy horses, although rEMA-2t was not suitable for ELISA, probably owing to its poor absorbability to the plates. The specific antibodies in B. equi-infected horses were detectable during both acute and latent infection (6 to 244 days postinfection). Horse sera from Jilin Province, China, were examined by the two tests. The seroprevalence of B. equi was 49.2% (31 of 63 sera) by Western blot analysis with rEMA-2t and 47.6% (30 of 63 sera) by ELISA with G-rEMA-2t. The correspondence was 98.4% (62 of 63 sera) between the two tests. The results indicate that G-rEMA-2t and rEMA-2t proteins should be suitable antigens for the development of an effective immunodiagnostic assay due to their high sensitivity, specificity, and great yield.
PMCID: PMC150322  PMID: 12624044
6.  Expression of Equi Merozoite Antigen 2 during Development of Babesia equi in the Midgut and Salivary Gland of the Vector Tick Boophilus microplus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(12):5803-5809.
Equi merozoite antigens 1 and 2 (EMA-1 and EMA-2) are Babesia equi proteins expressed on the parasite surface during infection in horses and are orthologues of proteins in Theileria spp., which are also tick-transmitted protozoal pathogens. We determined in this study whether EMA-1 and EMA-2 were expressed within the vector tick Boophilus microplus. B. equi transitions through multiple, morphologically distinct stages, including sexual stages, and these transitions culminate in the formation of infectious sporozoites in the tick salivary gland. EMA-2-positive B. equi stages in the midgut lumen and midgut epithelial cells of Boophilus microplus nymphs were identified by reactivity with monoclonal antibody 36/253.21. This monoclonal antibody also recognized B. equi in salivary glands of adult Boophilus microplus. In addition, quantification of B. equi in the mammalian host and vector tick indicated that the duration of tick feeding and parasitemia levels affected the percentage of nymphs that contained morphologically distinct B. equi organisms in the midgut. In contrast, there was no conclusive evidence that B. equi EMA-1 was expressed in either the Boophilus microplus midgut or salivary gland when monoclonal antibody 36/18.57 was used. The expression of B. equi EMA-2 in Boophilus microplus provides a marker for detecting the various development stages and facilitates the identification of novel stage-specific Babesia proteins for testing transmission-blocking immunity.
PMCID: PMC308990  PMID: 14662988
7.  Detection of Antibodies to Babesia equi in Horses by a Latex Agglutination Test Using Recombinant EMA-1 
A latex agglutination test (LAT) using recombinant equi merozoite antigen 1 (EMA-1) for the detection of antibodies to Babesia equi was developed. The LAT was able to differentiate very clearly between sera from B. equi-infected horses and sera from Babesia caballi-infected horses or from normal horses. The LAT results were identical to those of a previously developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. These results indicate that LAT using recombinant EMA-1 might be very useful as a routine screening method for the diagnosis of B. equi infection.
PMCID: PMC96117  PMID: 11329474
8.  West Nile virus: characterization and diagnostic applications of monoclonal antibodies 
Virology Journal  2012;9:81.
Diagnosis of West Nile virus (WNV) infections is often difficult due to the extensive antigenic cross-reactivity among flaviviruses, especially in geographic regions where two or more of these viruses are present causing sequential infections. The purpose of this study was to characterize a panel of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) produced against WNV to verify their applicability in WNV diagnosis and in mapping epitope targets of neutralizing MAbs.
Six MAbs were produced and characterized by isotyping, virus-neutralization, western blotting and MAb-epitope competition. The MAb reactivity against various WNVs belonging to lineage 1 and 2 and other related flaviviruses was also evaluated. The molecular basis of epitopes recognized by neutralizing MAbs was defined through the selection and sequencing of MAb escape mutants. Competitive binding assays between MAbs and experimental equine and chicken sera were designed to identify specific MAb reaction to epitopes with high immunogenicity.
All MAbs showed stronger reactivity with all WNVs tested and good competition for antigen binding in ELISA tests with WNV-positive equine and chicken sera. Four MAbs (3B2, 3D6, 4D3, 1C3) resulted specific for WNV, while two MAbs (2A8, 4G9) showed cross-reaction with Usutu virus. Three MAbs (3B2, 3D6, 4D3) showed neutralizing activity. Sequence analysis of 3B2 and 3D6 escape mutants showed an amino acid change at E307 (Lys → Glu) in the E protein gene, whereas 4D3 variants identified mutations encoding amino acid changed at E276 (Ser → Ile) or E278 (Thr → Ile). 3B2 and 3D6 mapped to a region on the lateral surface of domain III of E protein, which is known to be a specific and strong neutralizing epitope for WNV, while MAb 4D3 recognized a novel specific neutralizing epitope on domain II of E protein that has not previously been described with WNV MAbs.
MAbs generated in this study can be applied to various analytical methods for virological and serological WNV diagnosis. A novel WNV-specific and neutralizing MAb (4D3) directed against the unknown epitope on domain II of E protein can be useful to better understand the role of E protein epitopes involved in the mechanism of WNV neutralization.
PMCID: PMC3366889  PMID: 22500562
West Nile virus; Monoclonal antibody; Epitope
9.  Monoclonal Antibody against Babesia equi: Characterization and Potential Application of Antigen for Serodiagnosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1998;36(7):1835-1839.
Monoclonal antibody (MAb) BEG3 was produced against Babesia equi parasites to define a species-specific antigen for diagnostic use. The MAb reacted with single, paired, and Maltese cross forms of B. equi, and no reaction was observed with this MAb on acetone-fixed Babesia caballi, Babesia ovata, or Babesia microti parasites in the indirect immunofluorescent antibody test. Confocal laser and immunoelectron microscopic studies showed that the antigen which was recognized by this MAb was located on the surface of B. equi parasites. This MAb recognized a 19-kDa protein of B. equi antigen and did not react with B. caballi antigen or normal horse erythrocytes in immunoblot analysis. This MAb also significantly inhibited the in vitro growth of the B. equi parasite. Preliminary studies using partially purified antigen, which was separated by high-pressure liquid chromatography and recognized by the MAb, suggested that it is a suitable antigen for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay detection of anti-B. equi antibodies in naturally infected horse sera.
PMCID: PMC104937  PMID: 9650921
10.  Immunochromatographic Test for Simultaneous Serodiagnosis of Babesia caballi and B. equi Infections in Horses 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2006;13(5):553-555.
An immunochromatographic test for the simultaneous detection of Babesia caballi- and B. equi-specific antibodies (BceICT) was developed using a recombinant B. caballi 48-kDa rhoptry protein (rBc48) and a recombinant truncated B. equi merozoite antigen 2 (rEMA-2t). An evaluation of the ability of the BceICT to detect antibodies in sera from uninfected horses and experimentally infected horses showed high sensitivities and specificities of 83.3% (10/12 sera) and 92.9% (52/56 sera), respectively, for the anti-B. caballi antibody and 94.1% (16/17 sera) and 88.2% (45/51 sera), respectively, for the anti-B. equi antibody. Results from the detection of antibodies in field-collected sera indicated that the BceICT results corresponded with those of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), showing 91.8% correspondence (67/73 sera) for B. caballi and 95.9% correspondence (70/73 sera) for B. equi, and that the BceICT results also corresponded with the ICT for B. caballi and for B. equi, both of which were 98.2% (55/56 sera). The comparable results of the ICT and ELISA and the simplicity and rapidity of the performance of the ICT suggest that the BceICT would be a feasible test for the simultaneous serodiagnosis of both agents of equine babesiosis in the field.
PMCID: PMC1459648  PMID: 16682475
11.  Delineation of Stage Specific Expression of Plasmodium falciparum EBA-175 by Biologically Functional Region II Monoclonal Antibodies 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18393.
The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum EBA-175 binds its receptor sialic acids on glycophorin A when invading erythrocytes. The receptor-binding region (RII) contains two cysteine-rich domains with similar cysteine motifs (F1 and F2). Functional relationships between F1 and F2 domains and characterization of EBA-175 were studied using specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against these domains.
Methods and Findings
Five mAbs specific for F1 or F2 were generated. Three mAbs specific for F2 potently blocked binding of EBA-175 to erythrocytes, and merozoite invasion of erythrocytes (IC50 10 to 100 µg/ml IgG in growth inhibition assays). A mAb specific for F1 blocked EBA-175 binding and merozoite invasion less effectively. The difference observed between the IC50 of F1 and F2 mAbs was not due to differing association and disassociation rates as determined by surface plasmon resonance. Four of the mAbs recognized conformation-dependent epitopes within F1 or F2. Used in combination, F1 and F2 mAbs blocked the binding of native EBA-175 to erythrocytes and inhibited parasite invasion synergistically in vitro. MAb R217, the most potent, did not recognize sporozoites, 3-day hepatocyte stage parasites, nor rings, trophozoites, gametocytes, retorts, ookinetes, and oocysts but recognized 6-day hepatocyte stage parasites, and schizonts. Even though efficient at blocking binding to erythrocytes and inhibiting invasion into erythrocytes, MAb R217 did not inhibit sporozoite invasion and development in hepatocytes in vitro.
The role of the F1 and F2 domains in erythrocyte invasion and binding was elucidated with mAbs. These mAbs interfere with native EBA-175 binding to erythrocyte in a synergistic fashion. The stage specific expression of EBA-175 showed that the primary focus of activity was the merozoite stage. A recombinant RII protein vaccine consisting of both F1 and F2 domains that could induce synergistic activity should be optimal for induction of antibody responses that interfere with merozoite invasion of erythrocytes.
PMCID: PMC3077373  PMID: 21533224
12.  Transcription-inhibition and RNA-binding domains of influenza A virus matrix protein mapped with anti-idiotypic antibodies and synthetic peptides. 
Journal of Virology  1989;63(9):3586-3594.
We have undertaken by biochemical and immunological experiments to locate the region of the matrix (M1) protein responsible for down-regulating endogenous transcription of A/WSN/33 influenza virus. A more refined map of the antigenic determinants of the M1 protein was obtained by binding of epitope-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to chemically cleaved fragments. Epitope 2-specific MAb 289/4 and MAb 7E5 reverse transcription inhibition by M1 protein and react with a 4-kilodalton cyanogen bromide fragment extending from amino acid Gly-129 to Gln-164. Anti-idiotype serum immunoglobulin G prepared in rabbits immunized with MAb 289/4 or MAb 7E5 mimicked the action of M1 protein by inhibiting transcription in vitro of influenza virus ribonucleoprotein cores. This transcription-inhibition activity of anti-MAb 7E5 immunoglobulin G and anti-MAb 289/4 immunoglobulin G could be reversed by MAb 7E5 and MAb 289/4 or could be removed by MAb 7E5-Sepharose affinity chromatography. Transcription of influenza virus ribonucleoprotein was inhibited by one of three synthetic oligopeptides, a nonodecapeptide SP3 with an amino acid sequence corresponding to Pro-90 through Thr-108 of the M1 protein. Of all the structural proteins of influenza virus, only NP and M1 showed strong affinity for binding viral RNA or other extraneous RNAs. The 4-kilodalton cyanogen bromide peptide (Gly-129 to Gln-164), exhibited marked affinity for viral RNA, the binding of which was blocked by epitope 2-specific MAb 7E5 but not by MAbs directed to three other epitopes. Viral RNA also bound strongly to the nonodecapeptide SP3 and rather less well to anti-idiotype anti-MAb 7E5; these latter viral RNA-binding reactions were only slightly blocked by preincubation of anti-MAb 7E5 or SP3 with MAb 7E5. These experiments suggest the presence of at least two RNA-binding sites, which also serve as transcription-inhibition sites, centered around amino acid sequences 80 through 109 (epitope 4?) and 129 through 164 (epitope 2) of the 252 amino acid M1 protein of A/WSN/33 influenza virus. A hydropathy plot of the M1 protein calculated by free-energy transfer suggests that the two hydrophilic transcription-inhibition RNA-binding domains are brought into close proximity by an alpha-helix-forming intervening hydrophobic domain.
PMCID: PMC250948  PMID: 2474671
13.  Characterization of monoclonal antibodies against a type SAT 2 foot-and-mouth disease virus. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1993;111(2):391-406.
This paper is the first to describe characterization of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against a South African Territories 2 (SAT 2) foot-and-mouth disease virus (isolate Rho 1/48). Twelve MAbs which neutralized homologous virus were characterized in indirect and sandwich ELISA using purified Rho 1/48 virus particles, subunits, trypsin-treated, and chemically denatured virus. All the MAbs inhibited haemagglutination by parental virus. Binding of the MAbs to 73 SAT 2 field isolates was measured in a sandwich ELISA and defined four distinct antigenic regions. Preliminary characterization of escape mutants selected with some of the MAbs using virus neutralization tests, ELISA, and amino acid sequencing is included. MAbs 2, 25, 40, 48 and 64, reacted with a linear epitope on the VP1 loop region. An amino acid change at position 149 (valine to glutamic acid) was detected in mutants selected by MAb 2 and 40 and this eliminated binding and neutralization by all the other MAb. This epitope was conformation-dependent and was conserved in all 73 isolates of SAT 2 examined. Escape mutants isolated with MAb 41 and 44, had changes at positions 156 (glycine to aspartic acid), or 158 (serine to leucine) respectively. These MAbs bound with Rho 1/48 only out of 73 field strain viruses studies and the reactions of MAbs from the other groups was unaltered. MAb 27, 28 and 37 reacted with a conformation-dependent epitope on VP1 which was not conserved in field isolates. All mutants selected by these MAbs had a single amino acid substitution at position 149 (valine to alanine). The same change was always found in field isolates which did not bind MAbs from this group. MAb 11 reacted with a linear epitope associated with amino acids 147 or 148 on VP1 and showed similar binding characteristics to a conformation dependent MAb 7, no amino acid residue changes were found within VP1 for monoclonal antibody 7 mutants.
PMCID: PMC2271387  PMID: 7691630
14.  Characterization of the secretion pathway of the collagen adhesin EmaA of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans 
Molecular oral microbiology  2012;27(5):382-396.
The extracellular matrix protein adhesin A (EmaA) surface antennae-like structures of the periodontal pathogen, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, are composed of three identical protein monomers. Recently, we have demonstrated that the protein is synthesized with an extended signal peptide of 56 amino acids necessary for membrane targeting and protein translocation. In this study, EmaA secretion was demonstrated to be reliant on a chaperone-dependent secretion pathway. Deletion of secB partially reduced but did not abolish the amount of EmaA in the membrane. This observation was attributed to an increase in the synthesis of DnaK in the ΔsecB strain. Overexpression of a DnaK substitution mutant (A174T), with diminished activity, in the ΔsecB strain further reduced the amount of EmaA in the membrane. Expression of dnaK A174T in the wild type strain did not affect the amount of EmaA in the membrane when grown under optimal growth conditions at 37°C. However, EmaA was found to be reduced when this strain was grown at heat shock temperature. A chromosomal deletion of amino acids 16 to 39 of the EmaA extended signal peptide, transformed with either the wild type or dnaK A174T expressing plasmid, did not affect the amount of EmaA in the membrane. In addition, the level of EmaA in a ΔsecB/emaA− double mutant strain expressing EmaAΔ16-39 was unchanged when grown at both temperatures. The data suggest that chaperones are required for the targeting of EmaA to the membrane and a specific region of the signal peptide is necessary for secretion under stress conditions.
PMCID: PMC3442948  PMID: 22958387
Signal peptide; trimeric autotransporter; chaperones; SecB; DnaK
15.  Comparison of the sequences and functions of Streptococcus equi M-like proteins SeM and SzPSe. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(9):3600-3605.
Streptococcus equi (Streptococcus equi subsp. equi), a Lancefield group C streptococcus, causes strangles, a highly contagious purulent lymphadenitis and pharyngitis of members of the family Equidae. The antiphagocytic 58-kDa M-like protein SeM is a major virulence factor and protective antigen. The amino acid sequence and structure of SeM has been determined and compared to that of a second, 40-kDa M-like protein (SzPSe) of S. equi and to those of other streptococcal proteins. Both SeM and SzPSe are mainly alpha-helical fibrillar molecules with no homology other than that between their signal and membrane anchor sequences and are only distantly related to other streptococcal M and M-like proteins. The sequence of SzPSe indicates that it is an allele of SzP that encodes the variable protective M-like and typing antigens of S. zooepidemicus (S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus). SeM is opsonogenic for S. equi but not for the closely related S. zooepidemicus, whereas SzPSe is strongly opsonogenic for S. zooepidemicus but not for S. equi. Both proteins bind equine fibrinogen. SeM and SzPSe proteins from temporally and geographically separated isolates of S. equi are identical in size. The results taken together support previous evidence that S. equi is a clonal pathogen originating from an ancestral strain of S. zooepidemicus. We postulate that acquisition of SeM synthesis was a key element in the success of the clone because of its effect in enhancing resistance to phagocytosis and because protective immunity entails a requirement for SeM-specific antibody.
PMCID: PMC175512  PMID: 9284125
16.  Epitope mapping of PfCP-2.9, an asexual blood-stage vaccine candidate of Plasmodium falciparum 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:94.
Apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA-1) and merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) of Plasmodium falciparum are two leading blood-stage malaria vaccine candidates. A P. falciparum chimeric protein 2.9 (PfCP-2.9) has been constructed as a vaccine candidate, by fusing AMA-1 domain III (AMA-1 (III)) with a C-terminal 19 kDa fragment of MSP1 (MSP1-19) via a 28-mer peptide hinge. PfCP-2.9 was highly immunogenic in animal studies, and antibodies elicited by the PfCP-2.9 highly inhibited parasite growth in vitro. This study focused on locating the distribution of epitopes on PfCP-2.9.
A panel of anti-PfCP-2.9 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were produced and their properties were examined by Western blot as well as in vitro growth inhibition assay (GIA). In addition, a series of PfCP-2.9 mutants containing single amino acid substitution were produced in Pichia pastoris. Interaction of the mAbs with the PfCP-2.9 mutants was measured by both Western blot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Twelve mAbs recognizing PfCP-2.9 chimeric protein were produced. Of them, eight mAbs recognized conformational epitopes and six mAbs showed various levels of inhibitory activities on parasite growth in vitro. In addition, seventeen PfCP-2.9 mutants with single amino acid substitution were produced in Pichia pastoris for interaction with mAbs. Reduced binding of an inhibitory mAb (mAb7G), was observed in three mutants including M62 (Phe491→Ala), M82 (Glu511→Gln) and M84 (Arg513→Lys), suggesting that these amino acid substitutions are critical to the epitope corresponding to mAb7G. The binding of two non-inhibitory mAbs (mAbG11.12 and mAbW9.10) was also reduced in the mutants of either M62 or M82. The substitution of Leu31 to Arg resulted in completely abolishing the binding of mAb1E1 (a blocking antibody) to M176 mutant, suggesting that the Leu residue at this position plays a crucial role in the formation of the epitope. In addition, the Asn15 residue may also play an important role in the global folding of PfCP-2.9, as its substitution by Arg lead to reduced binding of most mAbs and abolishing the binding of mAb6G and mAbP5-W12.
This study provided valuable information on epitopes of PfCP-2.9 vaccine candidate through generation of a panel of mAbs and a series of PfCP-2.9 mutants. The information may prove to be useful for designing more effective malaria vaccines against blood-stage parasites.
PMCID: PMC2883548  PMID: 20384992
17.  Epitope Mapping of Monoclonal Antibodies Capable of Neutralizing Cytotoxic Necrotizing Factor Type 1 of Uropathogenic Escherichia coli 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(4):2066-2074.
Cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1 (CNF1) of uropathogenic Escherichia coli belongs to a family of bacterial toxins that target the small GTP-binding Rho proteins that regulate the actin cytoskeleton. Members of this toxin family typically inactivate Rho; however, CNF1 and the highly related CNF2 activate Rho by deamidation. Other investigators have reported that the first 190 amino acids of CNF1 constitute the cellular binding domain and that the CNF1 enzymatic domain lies within a 300-amino-acid stretch in the C terminus of the toxin. Amino acids 53 to 75 appear to be critical for cell receptor recognition, while amino acids Cys866 and His881 are considered essential for deamidation activity. To delineate further the functional domains of CNF1, we generated 16 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against the toxin and used them for epitope mapping studies. Based on Western blot immunoreactivity patterns obtained from a series of truncated CNF1 proteins, this panel of MAbs mapped to epitopes located throughout the toxin, including the binding and enzymatic domains. All MAbs showed reactivity to CNF1 by Western and dot blot analyses. However, only 7 of the 16 MAbs exhibited cross-reactivity with CNF2. Furthermore, only three MAbs demonstrated the capacity to neutralize toxin in either HEp-2 cell assays (inhibition of multinucleation) or 5637 bladder cell assays (inhibition of cytotoxicity). Since CNF1 epitopes recognized by neutralizing MAbs are likely to represent domains or regions necessary for the biological activities of the toxin, the epitopes recognized by these three MAbs, designated JC4 (immunoglobulin G2a [IgG2a]), BF8 (IgA), and NG8 (IgG2a), were more precisely defined. MAbs JC4 and BF8 reacted with epitopes that were common to CNF1 and CNF2 and located within the putative CNF1 binding domain. MAb JC4 recognized an epitope spanning amino acids 169 to 191, whereas MAb BF8 mapped to an epitope between amino acids 135 and 164. Despite the capacity of both MAbs to recognize CNF2 in Western blot analyses, only MAb BF8 neutralized CNF2. MAb NG8 showed reactivity to a CNF1-specific epitope located between amino acids 683 and 730, a region that includes a very small portion of the putative enzymatic domain. Taken together, these findings identify three new regions of the toxin that appear to be critical for the biological activity of CNF1.
PMCID: PMC98131  PMID: 11254559
18.  The phenotypically variable surface protein of Trichomonas vaginalis has a single, tandemly repeated immunodominant epitope. 
Infection and Immunity  1991;59(6):2083-2088.
Trichomonas vaginalis is a sexually transmitted protozoan parasite that undergoes phenotypic variation for numerous surface proteins. A monoclonal antibody (MAb) was used to isolate an approximately 400-bp cDNA encoding a fragment of an important phenotypically varying immunogen of T. vaginalis (Mr = 270 kDa; P270). The MAb completely inhibited the binding of P270 by antibody in sera of patients and by antibody in monospecific antiserum obtained toward purified P270, indicating that P270 contained only one immunodominant epitope. Hydrophilicity plot analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence of the recombinant protein predicted the hexapeptide sequence DREGRD as the antigenic determinant of P270. Synthetic peptides synthesized to this region demonstrated that the amino acid sequence DREGRD is important for antibody binding. Seven adjacent amino acids also contributed substantially to maximal recognition of the epitope by the MAb. A single transcript of approximately 9.5 kb, a size compatible with the reported Mr of the immunogen, hybridized to the cDNA in Northern blots of total RNA from T. vaginalis. DNA sequence and Southern blot analysis determined the epitope to be encoded by a 339-bp unit, which was found to be tandemly repeated at least 12 times within the single-copy gene. This 12-mer unit would only constitute approximately 50% of the protein, yet it is responsible for all of the serum antibody to the immunogen produced by animals and humans. The epitope sequence was found in all fresh and long-term-grown organisms examined to date, demonstrating the stability and conservation of this gene.
PMCID: PMC257969  PMID: 1709920
19.  Localization of rotavirus VP4 neutralization epitopes involved in antibody-induced conformational changes of virus structure. 
Journal of Virology  1994;68(6):3955-3964.
We previously characterized three neutralization-positive epitopes (NP1 [1a and 1b], NP2, and NP3) and three neutralization-negative epitopes on the simian rotavirus SA11 VP4 with 13 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Conformational changes occurred as a result of the binding of NP1 MAbs to the SA11 spike VP4, and enhanced binding of all neutralization-negative MAbs was observed when NP1 MAbs bound VP4 in a competitive MAb capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. To further understand the structure and function of VP4, we have continued studies with these MAbs. Electron microscopic and sucrose gradient analyses of SA11-MAb complexes showed that triple-layered viral particles disassembled following treatment with NP1b MAbs 10G6 and 7G6 but not following treatment with NP1a MAb 9F6, NP2 MAb 2G4, and NP3 MAb 23. Virus infectivity was reduced approximately 3 to 5 logs by the NP1b MAbs. These results suggest that NP1b MAb neutralization occurs by a novel mechanism. We selected four neutralization escape mutants of SA11 with these VP4 MAbs and characterized them by using plaque reduction neutralization assays, hemagglutination inhibition assays, and an antigen capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. These analyses support the previous assignment of the NP1a, NP1b, NP2, and NP3 MAbs into separate epitopes and confirmed that the viruses were truly neutralization escape mutants. Nucleotide sequence analyses found 1 amino acid (aa) substitution in VP8* of VP4 at (i) aa 136 for NP1a MAb mutant 9F6R, (ii) aa 180 and 183 for NP1b MAb mutants 7G6R and 10G6R, respectively, and (iii) aa 194 for NP3 MAb mutant 23R. The NP1b MAb mutants showed an unexpected enhanced binding with heterologous nonneutralization MAb to VP7 compared with parental SA11 and the other mutants. Taken together, these results suggest that the NP1b epitope is a critical site for VP4 and VP7 interactions and for virus stability.
PMCID: PMC236901  PMID: 7514681
20.  Two Monoclonal Antibodies with Defined Epitopes of P44 Major Surface Proteins Neutralize Anaplasma phagocytophilum by Distinct Mechanisms  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(3):1873-1882.
Anaplasma phagocytophilum is an obligatory intracellular bacterium that causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis. The polymorphic 44-kDa major outer membrane proteins of A. phagocytophilum are dominant antigens recognized by patients and infected animals. However, the ability of anti-P44 antibody to neutralize the infection has been unclear due to a mixture of P44 proteins with diverse hypervariable region amino acid sequences expressed by a given bacterial population and lack of epitope-defined antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) 5C11 and 3E65 are directed to different domains of P44 proteins, the N-terminal conserved region and P44-18 central hypervariable region, respectively. Passive immunization with either MAb 5C11 or 3E65 partially protects mice from infection with A. phagocytophilum. In the present study, we demonstrated that the two monoclonal antibodies recognize bacterial surface-exposed epitopes of naturally folded P44 proteins and mapped these epitopes to specific peptide sequences. The two MAbs almost completely blocked the infection of the A. phagocytophilum population that predominantly expressed P44-18 in HL-60 cells by distinct mechanisms: MAb 5C11 blocked the binding, but MAb 3E65 did not block binding or internalization. Instead, MAb 3E65 inhibited internalized A. phagocytophilum to develop into microcolonies called morulae. Some plasma from experimentally infected horses and mice reacted with these two epitopes. Taken together, these data indicate the presence of at least two distinct bacterial surface-exposed neutralization epitopes in P44 proteins. The results indicate that antibodies directed to certain epitopes of P44 proteins have a critical role in inhibiting A. phagocytophilum infection of host cells.
PMCID: PMC1418626  PMID: 16495562
21.  Monoclonal Antibodies to Meningococcal Factor H Binding Protein with Overlapping Epitopes and Discordant Functional Activity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34272.
Meningococcal factor H binding protein (fHbp) is a promising vaccine candidate. Anti-fHbp antibodies can bind to meningococci and elicit complement-mediated bactericidal activity directly. The antibodies also can block binding of the human complement down-regulator, factor H (fH). Without bound fH, the organism would be expected to have increased susceptibility to bacteriolysis. Here we describe bactericidal activity of two anti-fHbp mAbs with overlapping epitopes in relation to their different effects on fH binding and bactericidal activity.
Methods and Principal Findings
Both mAbs recognized prevalent fHbp sequence variants in variant group 1. Using yeast display and site-specific mutagenesis, binding of one of the mAbs (JAR 1, IgG3) to fHbp was eliminated by a single amino acid substitution, R204A, and was decreased by K143A but not by R204H or D142A. The JAR 1 epitope overlapped that of previously described mAb (mAb502, IgG2a) whose binding to fHbp was eliminated by R204A or R204H substitutions, and was decreased by D142A but not by K143A. Although JAR 1 and mAb502 appeared to have overlapping epitopes, only JAR 1 inhibited binding of fH to fHbp and had human complement-mediated bactericidal activity. mAb502 enhanced fH binding and lacked human complement-mediated bactericidal activity. To control for confounding effects of different mouse IgG subclasses on complement activation, we created chimeric mAbs in which the mouse mAb502 or JAR 1 paratopes were paired with human IgG1 constant regions. While both chimeric mAbs showed similar binding to fHbp, only JAR 1, which inhibited fH binding, had human complement-mediated bactericidal activity.
The lack of human complement-mediated bactericidal activity by anti-fHbp mAb502 appeared to result from an inability to inhibit binding of fH. These results underscore the importance of inhibition of fH binding for anti-fHbp mAb bactericidal activity.
PMCID: PMC3312907  PMID: 22461909
22.  Epitope Mapping of a Protective Monoclonal Antibody against Pneumocystis carinii with Shared Reactivity to Streptococcus pneumoniae Surface Antigen PspA  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(3):1548-1556.
Pneumocystis carinii is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes pneumonia in the immunocompromised host. A protective monoclonal antibody (MAb) termed 4F11 generated against mouse-derived P. carinii was shown by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) to bind surface antigens of P. carinii derived from multiple host species, including humans. We have identified multiple epitopes recognized by MAb 4F11 in two recombinant mouse P. carinii antigens. The epitopes mapped have similar proline content and positive charge distribution. The consensus 8-mer epitope recognized by MAb 4F11 is K/RPA/RPK/QPA/TP. Immune sera raised against intact mouse P. carinii recognized native antigens affinity purified with MAb 4F11 and a recombinant antigen reactive with MAb 4F11. Database searches for short, nearly exact matches to the mapped MAb 4F11 epitopes identified a bacterial surface antigen, Streptococcus pneumoniae PspA, with a similar proline-rich region. In an IFA, MAb 4F11 detected antigens on the S. pneumoniae surface, and Western blotting identified a protein in S. pneumoniae lysates consistent with the Mr of PspA. A fragment of the S. pneumoniae PspA gene was cloned and sequenced, and the deduced amino acid sequence contained a region with strong similarity to the MAb 4F11 epitopes identified in P. carinii. The PspA recombinant polypeptide was recognized by MAb 4F11 in a Western blot. The ability of MAb 4F11 to recognize similar proline-rich epitopes may explain its ability to recognize P. carinii derived from multiple hosts and will permit testing of the epitopes recognized by this antibody in immunization against P. carinii.
PMCID: PMC356052  PMID: 14977961
23.  The First Human Epitope Map of the Alphaviral E1 and E2 Proteins Reveals a New E2 Epitope with Significant Virus Neutralizing Activity 
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is responsible for VEE epidemics that occur in South and Central America and the U.S. The VEEV envelope contains two glycoproteins E1 (mediates cell membrane fusion) and E2 (binds receptor and elicits virus neutralizing antibodies). Previously we constructed E1 and E2 epitope maps using murine monoclonal antibodies (mMAbs). Six E2 epitopes (E2c,d,e,f,g,h) bound VEEV-neutralizing antibody and mapped to amino acids (aa) 182–207. Nothing is known about the human antibody repertoire to VEEV or epitopes that engage human virus-neutralizing antibodies. There is no specific treatment for VEE; however virus-neutralizing mMAbs are potent protective and therapeutic agents for mice challenged with VEEV by either peripheral or aerosol routes. Therefore, fully human MAbs (hMAbs) with virus-neutralizing activity should be useful for prevention or clinical treatment of human VEE.
We used phage-display to isolate VEEV-specific hFabs from human bone marrow donors. These hFabs were characterized by sequencing, specificity testing, VEEV subtype cross-reactivity using indirect ELISA, and in vitro virus neutralization capacity. One E2-specific neutralizing hFAb, F5n, was converted into IgG, and its binding site was identified using competitive ELISA with mMAbs and by preparing and sequencing antibody neutralization-escape variants.
Using 11 VEEV-reactive hFabs we constructed the first human epitope map for the alphaviral surface proteins E1 and E2. We identified an important neutralization-associated epitope unique to the human immune response, E2 aa115–119. Using a 9 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy map of the Sindbis virus E2 protein, we showed the probable surface location of this human VEEV epitope.
The VEEV-neutralizing capacity of the hMAb F5 nIgG is similar to that exhibited by the humanized mMAb Hy4 IgG. The Hy4 IgG has been shown to limit VEEV infection in mice both prophylactically and therapeutically. Administration of a cocktail of F5n and Hy4 IgGs, which bind to different E2 epitopes, could provide enhanced prophylaxis or immunotherapy for VEEV, while reducing the possibility of generating possibly harmful virus neutralization-escape variants in vivo.
Author Summary
Although the murine immune response to Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is well-characterized, little is known about the human antibody response to VEEV. In this study we used phage display technology to isolate a panel of 11 VEEV-specfic Fabs from two human donors. Seven E2-specific and four E1-specific Fabs were identified and mapped to five E2 epitopes and three E1 epitopes. Two neutralizing Fabs were isolated, E2-specific F5 and E1-specific L1A7, although the neutralizing capacity of L1A7 was 300-fold lower than F5. F5 Fab was expressed as a complete IgG1 molecule, F5 native (n) IgG. Neutralization-escape VEEV variants for F5 nIgG were isolated and their structural genes were sequenced to determine the theoretical binding site of F5. Based on this sequence analysis as well as the ability of F5 to neutralize four neutralization-escape variants of anti-VEEV murine monoclonal antibodies (mapped to E2 amino acids 182–207), a unique neutralization domain on E2 was identified and mapped to E2 amino acids 115–119.
PMCID: PMC2903468  PMID: 20644615
24.  Epidemiological Investigation of Equine Piroplasmosis in China by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays 
The objective of this study is to investigate the seroprevalence of equine piroplasmosis in China. A total of 1990 sera were collected from clinically healthy horses in various districts located in ten different provinces of China and examined by using indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) with recombinant Theileria equi (T. equi) merozoite antigen 2 (rEMA-2) and Babesia caballi (B. caballi) 48-kDa rhoptry protein (rBc48), respectively. The results showed that 1,018 (51.16%) and 229 (11.51%) samples were positive for B. caballi and T. equi infection, respectively. The number of samples with mixed infection was 152 (7.64%). These results indicated that equine piroplasmosis was widespread in China.
PMCID: PMC4064140  PMID: 24292247
B. caballi; ELSIA; serological prevalence; T. equi
25.  Ability of the Vector Tick Boophilus microplus To Acquire and Transmit Babesia equi following Feeding on Chronically Infected Horses with Low-Level Parasitemia 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(8):3755-3759.
The protozoan parasite Babesia equi replicates within erythrocytes. During the acute phase of infection, B. equi can reach high levels of parasitemia, resulting in a hemolytic crisis. Horses that recover from the acute phase of the disease remain chronically infected. Subsequent transmission is dependent upon the ability of vector ticks to acquire B. equi and, following development and replication, establishment of B. equi in the salivary glands. Although restriction of the movement of chronically infected horses with B. equi is based on the presumption that ticks can acquire and transmit the parasite at low levels of long-term infection, parasitemia levels during the chronic phase of infection have never been quantified, nor has transmission been demonstrated. To address these epidemiologically significant questions, we established long-term B. equi infections (>1 year), measured parasitemia levels over time, and tested whether nymphal Boophilus microplus ticks could acquire and, after molting to the adult stage, transmit B. equi to naive horses. B. equi levels during the chronic phase of infection ranged from 103.3 to 106.0/ml of blood, with fluctuation over time within individual horses. B. microplus ticks fed on chronically infected horses with mean parasite levels of 105.5 ± 100.48/ml of blood acquired B. equi, with detection of B. equi in the salivary glands of 7 to 50% of fed ticks, a range encompassing the percentage of positive ticks that had been identically fed on a horse in the acute phase of infection with high parasitemia levels. Ticks that acquired B. equi from chronically infected horses, as well as those fed during the acute phase of infection, successfully transmitted the parasite to naive horses. The results unequivocally demonstrated that chronically infected horses with low-level parasitemia are competent mammalian reservoirs for tick transmission of B. equi.
PMCID: PMC1233951  PMID: 16081906

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