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Vaccines 2019, 7(1), 23;

Epitope-Specific Serological Assays for RSV: Conformation Matters

Vaccine Research Center, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA
Institute for Biomedical Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 January 2019 / Revised: 13 February 2019 / Accepted: 22 February 2019 / Published: 23 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vaccines for Respiratory Syncytial Virus)
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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes substantial morbidity and mortality in children and older adults. An effective vaccine must elicit neutralizing antibodies targeting the RSV fusion (F) protein, which exists in two major conformations, pre-fusion (pre-F) and post-fusion (post-F). Although 50% of the surface is shared, pre-F contains highly neutralization-sensitive antigenic sites not present on post-F. Recent advancement of several subunit F-based vaccine trials has spurred interest in quantifying and understanding the protective potential of antibodies directed to individual antigenic sites. Monoclonal antibody competition ELISAs are being used to measure these endpoints, but the impact of F conformation and competition from antibodies binding to adjacent antigenic sites has not been thoroughly investigated. Since this information is critical for interpreting clinical trial outcomes and defining serological correlates of protection, we optimized assays to evaluate D25-competing antibodies (DCA) to antigenic site Ø on pre-F, and compared readouts of palivizumab-competing antibodies (PCA) to site II on both pre-F and post-F. We show that antibodies to adjacent antigenic sites can contribute to DCA and PCA readouts, and that cross-competition from non-targeted sites is especially confounding when PCA is measured using a post-F substrate. While measuring DCA and PCA levels may be useful to delineate the role of antibodies targeting the apex and side of the F protein, respectively, the assay limitations and caveats should be considered when conducting immune monitoring during vaccine trials and defining correlates of protection. View Full-Text
Keywords: respiratory syncytial virus; monoclonal antibody competition; palivizumab competition assay; protein conformation; ELISA; immune correlates of protection respiratory syncytial virus; monoclonal antibody competition; palivizumab competition assay; protein conformation; ELISA; immune correlates of protection

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Phung, E.; Chang, L.A.; Morabito, K.M.; Kanekiyo, M.; Chen, M.; Nair, D.; Kumar, A.; Chen, G.L.; Ledgerwood, J.E.; Graham, B.S.; Ruckwardt, T.J. Epitope-Specific Serological Assays for RSV: Conformation Matters. Vaccines 2019, 7, 23.

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