Epitopes of Naturally Acquired and Vaccine-Induced Anti-Ebola Virus Glycoprotein Antibodies in Single Amino Acid Resolution

Biotechnol J. 2020 May 28;e2000069. doi: 10.1002/biot.202000069. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The Ebola virus (EBOV) can cause severe infections in humans, leading to a fatal outcome in a high percentage of cases. Neutralizing antibodies against the EBOV surface glycoprotein (GP) can prevent infections, demonstrating a straightforward way for an efficient vaccination strategy. Meanwhile, many different anti-EBOV antibodies have been identified, whereas the exact binding epitopes are often unknown. Here, the analysis of serum samples from an EBOV vaccine trial with the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire ebolavirus (rVSV-ZEBOV) and an Ebola virus disease survivor, using high-density peptide arrays, is presented. In this proof-of-principle study, distinct IgG and IgM antibodies binding to different epitopes of EBOV GP is detected: By mapping the whole GP as overlapping peptide fragments, new epitopes and confirmed epitopes from the literature are found. Furthermore, the highly selective binding epitope of a neutralizing monoclonal anti-EBOV GP antibody could be validated. This shows that peptide arrays can be a valuable tool to study the humoral immune response to vaccines in patients and to support Ebola vaccine development.

Keywords: Ebola virus; epitope mapping; human sera; neutralizing antibodies; recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire ebolavirus.