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Open AccessArticle

Generation of Monoclonal Antibodies against Variable Epitopes of the M Protein of Rabies Virus

1
MOE Joint International Research Laboratory of Animal Health and Food Safety, Jiangsu Engineering Laboratory of Animal Immunology, Institute of Immunology and College of Veterinary Medicine, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
2
China Institute of Veterinary Drug Control, Beijing 100081, China
3
Key laboratory of Animal Virology of Ministry of Agriculture, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Viruses 2019, 11(4), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11040375
Received: 18 February 2019 / Revised: 6 April 2019 / Accepted: 14 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Antivirals & Vaccines)
Rabies virus (RABV), the causative agent of rabies, is highly neurovirulent for warm-blooded animals with a mortality rate of up to 100%. The RABV matrix protein (M) is required for virus particle assembly and budding. However, little is known about antigenic differences in the M protein. In this study, five monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), designated 3B9, 4A1, 2B11, 2C1, and 4B11, against the RABV M protein were generated using a recombinant M protein. All five mAbs reacted with the CVS-11 strain but showed no reactivity against the HEP-Flury strain in indirect immunofluorescence and western blotting. The epitope targeted by these mAbs was further identified by peptide scanning using GST-fused peptides. The 25PPYDDD30 peptide was defined as the minimal linear epitope. Alignment of amino acid sequences and phylogenetic analysis of different RABV strains indicated that the variable epitope 25PPDGDD30 is only present in the HEP-Flury and variant Flury strains of clade III, while the other strains resembling ERA and SRVA9 within the clade had another variable epitope, 25PLDDDD30. A Y27D mutation within the epitope was found among the rest of the RABV strains distributed in different clades. However, a single D28G mutation eliminated the reactivity of these five mAbs. In addition, the mAbs were able to recognize wildtype RABV strain in indirect immunofluorescence and western blotting and detect RABV-infected brain tissue using immunohistochemistry. The newly established mAbs and identified epitope may facilitate future investigations in the structure and function of the M protein and the development of diagnostic methods for the detection of different RABV strains worldwide. Most importantly, the epitope recognized by the mAbs against M protein might serve as a novel target for the development of a vaccine targeting RABV virulent strains. View Full-Text
Keywords: rabies virus; monoclonal antibody; matrix protein; epitope; antigenic difference rabies virus; monoclonal antibody; matrix protein; epitope; antigenic difference
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Liu, J.; Zhao, W.; He, W.; Wang, N.; Su, J.; Ji, S.; Chen, J.; Wang, D.; Zhou, J.; Su, S. Generation of Monoclonal Antibodies against Variable Epitopes of the M Protein of Rabies Virus. Viruses 2019, 11, 375.

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