Characterisation and recombinant expression of antigens for the rapid diagnosis of West Nile virus infection

Jody Hobson-Peters (2009). Characterisation and recombinant expression of antigens for the rapid diagnosis of West Nile virus infection PhD Thesis, School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Jody Hobson-Peters
Thesis Title Characterisation and recombinant expression of antigens for the rapid diagnosis of West Nile virus infection
School, Centre or Institute School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Roy A Hall
Philip G Toye
Total pages 233
Total colour pages 20
Total black and white pages 213
Subjects 06 Biological Sciences
Abstract/Summary West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne pathogen of global significance. It is active on several continents and is responsible for recent outbreaks of fever and fatal encephalitis in humans and horses. While highly virulent strains have been reported in Europe, North, Central and South America, only a benign subtype of WNV (Kunjin virus – KUNV) occurs in Australia. However, virulent, exotic WNV strains are seen as a significant threat to Australia due to the ease with which this virus can move between continents and the presence of suitable vectors and hosts already within Australia. KUNV and WNV subtypes are antigenically and genetically very closely related and cross-react in traditional serological tests. This cross-reactivity makes it very difficult to differentiate between KUNV and WNV infections using standard serological tests. The aim of this thesis was to identify immunogenic epitopes unique to KUNV or WNV and to use these epitopes in the development of a rapid assay that would enable the diagnosis of and surveillance for exotic virulent strains of WNV in Australia. The rapid diagnostic platform chosen was a red blood cell (RBC) agglutination assay that was originally patented and commercialised by AGEN Biomedical Ltd. The RBC agglutination assay reagent consists of the Fab region of a human erythrocyte-specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) conjugated to the epitope of interest (in this instance, a WNV-specific peptide). This bi-functional reagent causes the agglutination of the patient’s erythrocytes in the presence of WNV-specific antibody in the patient’s serum. Traditionally, these RBC agglutination reagents have been produced by chemical conjugation. However, a potentially easier and cheaper method involves the linking of the gene encoding the erythrocyte-specific antibody to that encoding the epitope to create a recombinant version of the bi-functional agglutination reagent through expression using prokaryotic or eukaryotic systems. To identify potential differential epitopes, 18 mAbs to WNV (NY99 strain) prM and envelope (E) proteins were assessed. One mAb (17D7) differentially recognised WNV and KUNV in ELISA and maintained recognition of its corresponding epitope upon reduction and carboxymethylation of the viral antigen, suggesting a continuous (linear) epitope. Using synthetic peptides, the epitope was mapped to a 19 amino acid sequence (WN19: E147-165) encompassing the WNV NY99 E protein glycosylation site at position 154. An amino acid substitution at position E156 of many KUNV strains abolishes this glycosylation moiety. The inability of WNV-positive horse and mouse sera to bind the synthetic peptides indicated that glycosylation was required for recognition of peptide WN19 by WNV-specific antibodies in sera. N-linked glycosylation of WN19 was achieved through expression of the peptide as a C-terminal fusion protein in mammalian cells and specific reactivity of WNV-positive horse sera to the glycosylated WN19 fusion protein was shown by Western blot. Additional sera collected from horses that had been infected with Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV), which is similarly glycosylated at position E154 and exhibits high sequence identity to WNV NY99 in this region, also recognised the recombinant peptide. In contrast, no reactivity with the recombinant peptide was observed by sera from horses infected with the unglycosylated WNV subtype, KUNV. Failure of most WNV- and MVEV-positive horse sera to recognise the epitope as a deglycosylated fusion protein (75% and 100% respectively) confirmed that the N-linked glycan is important for antibody recognition of the peptide. Together, these results suggest that the induction of antibodies to the WN19 epitope during WNV infection of horses is generally associated with E protein glycosylation of the infecting viral strain. To assess the feasibility of using peptide WN19 in a rapid immunoassay, the peptide was recombinantly fused to a RBC (glycophorin)-specific single chain antibody (scFv) using previously published constructs which were developed for the bacterial expression of similar bi-functional reagents. To facilitate glycosylation of peptide WN19, the genes for the bi-functional agglutination reagents were subsequently cloned into eukaryotic expression vectors. An additional set of constructs were also produced in which the genes for the variable regions of the anti-RBC antibody were cloned into a vector for the secreted expression of an intact, humanised IgG1 molecule. Stable cell lines were produced for each of these constructs and secreted up to 700 ng/mL glycophorin-reactive antibody. The secreted recombinant protein could be harvested directly from the cell culture medium and used in RBC agglutination assays, where these bi-functional agglutination reagents could be cross-linked either with mAb 17D7 or by anti-peptide WN19 antibodies present in WNV-positive horse serum. The WNV NY99 prM protein was also identified as a useful marker of WNV-infection in horses, as well as a putative antigen to differentiate equine WNV NY99 and KUNV infections using Western blot. Two anti-WNV prM mAbs were also generated in this study and will be extremely valuable in future studies. Preliminary analysis of the prM epitope(s) bound by these mAbs and WNV-immune sera indicate that the binding site(s) is likely to be localised to pr and is conformational.
Keyword West Nile virus
Kunjin Virus
Monoclonal Antibody
single chain antibody
red blood cell agglutination
Recombinant Antibody
Epitope mapping
Envelope Protein
Diagnostic Assay
Additional Notes Colour: 31, 32, 36, 47, 48, 49, 56, 77, 89, 110, 148, 152, 165, 171, 180, 181, 230, 231, 232, 233 Landscape: 85, 91, 148, 230, 231, 232, 233

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Created: Wed, 21 Apr 2010, 09:55:03 EST by Ms Jody Hobson-peters on behalf of Library - Information Access Service