Two dengue 2-specific IgM monoclonal antibodies (MAb) recognised spatially unrelated epitopes on the envelope (E) protein of dengue 2 virus, which were also recognised by serum from 20 and 50%, respectively, of patients with a primary dengue 2 infection. Dengue 2 virus populations escaping neutralisation by MAb 6B2 (representing the majority population of dengue 2-specific IgM MAbs ) had a deduced amino acid change (G-S) in the pre-Membrane (prM) protein at position 15 and a second in the E protein at E311 (E-G). The change in the E protein was adjacent to the only other epitopes on dengue 2 virus (E307, E383-385) involved in neutralisation that have been identified but that were recognised by IgG antibodies. Dengue 2 virus escaping neutralisation by IgM MAb 10F2, representing the minority population of dengue 2-specific IgM MAbs, had the same deduced amino acid change (G-S) at prM15 as the 6B2 neutralisation escape mutant dengue 2 virus population and four deduced amino acid changes in the E protein (E69, T-I, in the glycosylation motif; E71, E-D; E112, S-G; E124, I-N), which may be close enough to each other to form a single epitope and a fifth at E402 (F-L) in a region of the E protein of TBE virus essential for the low pH-induced E protein dimer-trimer transition. The 10F2 neutralisation escape mutant, but not the 6B2 one, had lost its ability to cause fusion from within Aedes albopictus mosquito cells and was inactivated more rapidly than the 6B2 neutralisation escape mutant and wild type viruses at 42 degrees C. Dengue 2 viruses passaged in BHK cells in the absence of a selecting antibody, shared a common amino acid (S) at E53, which differed from both wild type and neutralisation escape mutant virus populations at this position (P) and may have been responsible for a significant reduction in the ability of these "passage control" virus populations to be neutralised by both 6B2 and 10F2 antibodies.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.