This paper describes an approach to surface plasmon resonance (SPR) based epitope mapping, also referred to as pairwise antibody footprinting, involving the direct immobilization of an antigen-specific primary mAb to the surface of an SPR interface. This technique offers a more straightforward approach than indirect capture (e.g., via rabbit anti-mouse Fc) as it does not require additional steps to block the unoccupied immobilized anti-Fc to prevent non-specific antibody binding. This is also an alternative to the direct immobilization of an antigen of interest, which may cause conformational changes in the antigen or epitope degradation upon chemical immobilization, particularly in successive regeneration cycles. It is particularly suitable for highly multivalent targets such as virus-like particles (VLPs). Using this technique, we assessed a panel of eight monoclonal antibodies against HPV (human papilloma virus) L1 protein VLPs expressed by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the antibody epitope screening studies, HPV16 L1-directed conformational mAbs were clearly distinguished from the linear mAbs and consistent with known epitope information. Additional studies using a linear mAb and a conformational mAb demonstrate the practical application of this technique for characterizing the result of process changes and the consistency of recombinant HPV16 VLPs. The method is readily extensible to other VLPs and VLP-based vaccines.
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