Publications by authors named "Gregory D Gromowski"

38 Publications

Evaluation of the extended efficacy of the Dengvaxia vaccine against symptomatic and subclinical dengue infection.

Nat Med 2021 Jun 24. Epub 2021 Jun 24.

Institute for Immunology and Informatics, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Rhode Island, Providence, RI, USA.

More than half of the world's population lives in areas at risk for dengue virus infection. A vaccine will be pivotal to controlling spread, however, the only licensed vaccine, Dengvaxia, has been shown to increase the risk of severe disease in a subset of individuals. Vaccine efforts are hampered by a poor understanding of antibody responses, including those generated by vaccines, and whether antibody titers can be used as a marker of protection from infection or disease. Here we present the results of an ancillary study to a phase III vaccine study (n = 611). All participants received three doses of either Dengvaxia or placebo and were followed for 6 years. We performed neutralization tests on annual samples and during confirmed dengue episodes (n = 16,508 total measurements). We use mathematical models to reconstruct long-term antibody responses to vaccination and natural infection, and to identify subclinical infections. There were 87 symptomatic infections reported, and we estimated that there were a further 351 subclinical infections. Cumulative vaccine efficacy was positive for both subclinical and symptomatic infection, although the protective effect of the vaccine was concentrated in the first 3 years following vaccination. Among individuals with the same antibody titer, we found no difference between the risk of subsequent infection or disease between placebo and vaccine recipients, suggesting that antibody titers are a good predictor of both protection and disease risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01392-9DOI Listing
June 2021

A SARS-CoV-2 spike ferritin nanoparticle vaccine protects against heterologous challenge with B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 virus variants in Syrian golden hamsters.

bioRxiv 2021 Jun 16. Epub 2021 Jun 16.

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) requires adequate coverage of vaccine protection. We evaluated whether a spike ferritin nanoparticle vaccine (SpFN), adjuvanted with the Army Liposomal Formulation QS21 (ALFQ), conferred protection against the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 VOCs in Syrian golden hamsters. SpFN-ALFQ was administered as either single or double-vaccination (0 and 4 week) regimens, using a high (10 μg) or low (0.2 μg) immunogen dose. Animals were intranasally challenged at week 11. Binding antibody responses were comparable between high- and low-dose groups. Neutralizing antibody titers were equivalent against WA1, B.1.1.7, and B.1.351 variants following two high dose two vaccinations. SpFN-ALFQ vaccination protected against SARS-CoV-2-induced disease and viral replication following intranasal B.1.1.7 or B.1.351 challenge, as evidenced by reduced weight loss, lung pathology, and lung and nasal turbinate viral burden. These data support the development of SpFN-ALFQ as a broadly protective, next-generation SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.16.448525DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8219092PMC
June 2021

Correlation between reported dengue illness history and seropositivity in rural Thailand.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2021 Jun 15;15(6):e0009459. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, United States of America.

In the latest World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for Dengvaxia implementation, either serological testing or a person's history of prior dengue illness may be used as supporting evidence to identify dengue virus (DENV)-immune individuals eligible for vaccination, in areas with limited capacity for laboratory confirmation. This analysis aimed to estimate the concordance between self-reported dengue illness histories and seropositivity in a prospective cohort study for dengue virus infection in Kamphaeng Phet province, a dengue-endemic area in northern Thailand. The study enrolled 2,076 subjects from 516 multigenerational families, with a median age of 30.6 years (range 0-90 years). Individual and family member dengue illness histories were obtained by questionnaire. Seropositivity was defined based on hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) assays. Overall seropositivity for DENV was 86.5% among those aged 9-45 years, which increased with age. 18.5% of participants reported a history of dengue illness prior to enrollment; 30.1% reported a previous DENV infection in the family, and 40.1% reported DENV infection in either themselves or a family member. Relative to seropositivity by HAI in the vaccine candidate group, the sensitivity and specificity of individual prior dengue illness history were 18.5% and 81.6%, respectively; sensitivity and specificity of reported dengue illness in a family member were 29.8% and 68.0%, and of either the individual or a family member were 40.1% and 60.5%. Notably, 13.4% of individuals reporting prior dengue illness were seronegative. Given the high occurrence of asymptomatic and mild DENV infection, self-reported dengue illness history is poorly sensitive for prior exposure and may misclassify individuals as 'exposed' when they were not. This analysis highlights that a simple, highly sensitive, and highly specific test for determining serostatus prior to Dengvaxia vaccination is urgently needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0009459DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8232416PMC
June 2021

Enhanced dengue vaccine virus replication and neutralizing antibody responses in immune primed rhesus macaques.

NPJ Vaccines 2021 May 21;6(1):77. Epub 2021 May 21.

Viral Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MA, USA.

Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) is suspected to influence dengue virus (DENV) infection, but the role ADE plays in vaccination strategies incorporating live attenuated virus components is less clear. Using a heterologous prime-boost strategy in rhesus macaques, we examine the effect of priming with DENV purified inactivated vaccines (PIVs) on a tetravalent live attenuated vaccine (LAV). Sera exhibited low-level neutralizing antibodies (NAb) post PIV priming, yet moderate to high in vitro ADE activity. Following LAV administration, the PIV primed groups exhibited DENV-2 LAV peak viremias up to 1,176-fold higher than the mock primed group, and peak viremia correlated with in vitro ADE. Furthermore, PIV primed groups had more balanced and higher DENV-1-4 NAb seroconversion and titers than the mock primed group following LAV administration. These results have implications for the development of effective DENV vaccine prime-boost strategies and for our understanding of the role played by ADE in modulating DENV replication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41541-021-00339-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140083PMC
May 2021

SARS-CoV-2 ferritin nanoparticle vaccines elicit broad SARS coronavirus immunogenicity.

bioRxiv 2021 May 10. Epub 2021 May 10.

The need for SARS-CoV-2 next-generation vaccines has been highlighted by the rise of variants of concern (VoC) and the long-term threat of other coronaviruses. Here, we designed and characterized four categories of engineered nanoparticle immunogens that recapitulate the structural and antigenic properties of prefusion Spike (S), S1 and RBD. These immunogens induced robust S-binding, ACE2-inhibition, and authentic and pseudovirus neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in mice. A Spike-ferritin nanoparticle (SpFN) vaccine elicited neutralizing titers more than 20-fold higher than convalescent donor serum, following a single immunization, while RBD-Ferritin nanoparticle (RFN) immunogens elicited similar responses after two immunizations. Passive transfer of IgG purified from SpFN- or RFN-immunized mice protected K18-hACE2 transgenic mice from a lethal SARS-CoV-2 virus challenge. Furthermore, SpFN- and RFN-immunization elicited ACE2 blocking activity and neutralizing ID50 antibody titers >2,000 against SARS-CoV-1, along with high magnitude neutralizing titers against major VoC. These results provide design strategies for pan-coronavirus vaccine development.

Highlights: Iterative structure-based design of four Spike-domain Ferritin nanoparticle classes of immunogensSpFN-ALFQ and RFN-ALFQ immunization elicits potent neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2, variants of concern, and SARS-CoV-1Passively transferred IgG from immunized C57BL/6 mice protects K18-hACE2 mice from lethal SARS-CoV-2 challenge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.09.443331DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132231PMC
May 2021

Efficacy and breadth of adjuvanted SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain nanoparticle vaccine in macaques.

bioRxiv 2021 Apr 10. Epub 2021 Apr 10.

Emergence of novel variants of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) underscores the need for next-generation vaccines able to elicit broad and durable immunity. Here we report the evaluation of a ferritin nanoparticle vaccine displaying the receptor-binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (RFN) adjuvanted with Army Liposomal Formulation QS-21 (ALFQ). RFN vaccination of macaques using a two-dose regimen resulted in robust, predominantly Th1 CD4+ T cell responses and reciprocal peak mean neutralizing antibody titers of 14,000-21,000. Rapid control of viral replication was achieved in the upper and lower airways of animals after high-dose SARS-CoV-2 respiratory challenge, with undetectable replication within four days in 7 of 8 animals receiving 50 µg RFN. Cross-neutralization activity against SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351 decreased only ∼2-fold relative to USA-WA1. In addition, neutralizing, effector antibody and cellular responses targeted the heterotypic SARS-CoV-1, highlighting the broad immunogenicity of RFN-ALFQ for SARS-like betacoronavirus vaccine development.

Significance Statement: The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) that reduce the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines is a major threat to pandemic control. We evaluate a SARS-CoV-2 Spike receptor-binding domain ferritin nanoparticle protein vaccine (RFN) in a nonhuman primate challenge model that addresses the need for a next-generation, efficacious vaccine with increased pan-SARS breadth of coverage. RFN, adjuvanted with a liposomal-QS21 formulation (ALFQ), elicits humoral and cellular immune responses exceeding those of current vaccines in terms of breadth and potency and protects against high-dose respiratory tract challenge. Neutralization activity against the B.1.351 VOC within two-fold of wild-type virus and against SARS-CoV-1 indicate exceptional breadth. Our results support consideration of RFN for SARS-like betacoronavirus vaccine development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.09.439166DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8043445PMC
April 2021

Efficacy of a Broadly Neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 Ferritin Nanoparticle Vaccine in Nonhuman Primates.

bioRxiv 2021 Mar 25. Epub 2021 Mar 25.

The emergence of novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants stresses the continued need for next-generation vaccines that confer broad protection against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We developed and evaluated an adjuvanted SARS-CoV-2 Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) vaccine in nonhuman primates (NHPs). High-dose (50 g) SpFN vaccine, given twice within a 28 day interval, induced a Th1-biased CD4 T cell helper response and a peak neutralizing antibody geometric mean titer of 52,773 against wild-type virus, with activity against SARS-CoV-1 and minimal decrement against variants of concern. Vaccinated animals mounted an anamnestic response upon high-dose SARS-CoV-2 respiratory challenge that translated into rapid elimination of replicating virus in their upper and lower airways and lung parenchyma. SpFN's potent and broad immunogenicity profile and resulting efficacy in NHPs supports its utility as a candidate platform for SARS-like betacoronaviruses.

One-sentence Summary: A SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein ferritin nanoparticle vaccine, co-formulated with a liposomal adjuvant, elicits broad neutralizing antibody responses that exceed those observed for other major vaccines and rapidly protects against respiratory infection and disease in the upper and lower airways and lung tissue of nonhuman primates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.24.436523DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8010721PMC
March 2021

Temporally integrated single cell RNA sequencing analysis of PBMC from experimental and natural primary human DENV-1 infections.

PLoS Pathog 2021 01 29;17(1):e1009240. Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Viral Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America.

Dengue human infection studies present an opportunity to address many longstanding questions in the field of flavivirus biology. However, limited data are available on how the immunological and transcriptional response elicited by an attenuated challenge virus compares to that associated with a wild-type DENV infection. To determine the kinetic transcriptional signature associated with experimental primary DENV-1 infection and to assess how closely this profile correlates with the transcriptional signature accompanying natural primary DENV-1 infection, we utilized scRNAseq to analyze PBMC from individuals enrolled in a DENV-1 human challenge study and from individuals experiencing a natural primary DENV-1 infection. While both experimental and natural primary DENV-1 infection resulted in overlapping patterns of inflammatory gene upregulation, natural primary DENV-1 infection was accompanied with a more pronounced suppression in gene products associated with protein translation and mitochondrial function, principally in monocytes. This suggests that the immune response elicited by experimental and natural primary DENV infection are similar, but that natural primary DENV-1 infection has a more pronounced impact on basic cellular processes to induce a multi-layered anti-viral state.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1009240DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7875406PMC
January 2021

Immunogenicity of a Live-Attenuated Dengue Vaccine Using a Heterologous Prime-Boost Strategy in a Phase 1 Randomized Clinical Trial.

J Infect Dis 2021 May;223(10):1707-1716

Viral Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.

Background: Dengue is a global health problem and the development of a tetravalent dengue vaccine with durable protection is a high priority. A heterologous prime-boost strategy has the advantage of eliciting immune responses through different mechanisms and therefore may be superior to homologous prime-boost strategies for generating durable tetravalent immunity.

Methods: In this phase 1 first-in-human heterologous prime-boost study, 80 volunteers were assigned to 4 groups and received a tetravalent dengue virus (DENV-1-4) purified inactivated vaccine (TDENV-PIV) with alum adjuvant and a tetravalent dengue virus (DENV-1-4) live attenuated vaccine (TDENV-LAV) in different orders and dosing schedules (28 or 180 days apart).

Results: All vaccination regimens had acceptable safety profiles and there were no vaccine-related serious adverse events. TDEN-PIV followed by TDEN-LAV induced higher neutralizing antibody titers and a higher rate of tetravalent seroconversions compared to TDEN-LAV followed by TDEN-PIV. Both TDEN-PIV followed by TDEN-LAV groups demonstrated 100% tetravalent seroconversion 28 days following the booster dose, which was maintained for most of these subjects through the day 180 measurement.

Conclusions: A heterologous prime-boost vaccination strategy for dengue merits additional evaluation for safety, immunogenicity, and potential for clinical benefit.

Clinical Trials Registration: NCT02239614.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiaa603DOI Listing
May 2021

Transcriptional and clonal characterization of B cell plasmablast diversity following primary and secondary natural DENV infection.

EBioMedicine 2020 Apr 18;54:102733. Epub 2020 Apr 18.

Viral Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD, United States.

Antibody-mediated humoral immunity is thought to play a central role in mediating the immunopathogenesis of acute DENV infection, but limited data are available on the diversity, specificity, and functionality of the antibody response at the molecular level elicited by primary or secondary DENV infection. In order to close this functional gap in our understanding of DENV-specific humoral immunity, we utilized high-throughput single cell RNA sequencing to investigate B cells circulating in both primary and secondary natural DENV infections. We captured full-length paired immunoglobulin receptor sequence data from 9,027 B cells from a total of 6 subjects, including 2,717 plasmablasts. In addition to IgG and IgM class-switched cells, we unexpectedly found a high proportion of the DENV-elicited plasmablasts expressing IgA, principally in individuals with primary DENV infections. These IgA class-switched cells were extensively hypermutated even in individuals with a serologically confirmed primary DENV infection. Utilizing a combination of conventional biochemical assays and high-throughput shotgun mutagenesis, we determined that DENV-reactive IgA class-switched antibodies represent a significant fraction of DENV-reactive Igs generated in response to DENV infection, and that they exhibit a comparable epitope specificity to DENV-reactive IgG antibodies. These results provide insight into the molecular-level diversity of DENV-elicited humoral immunity and identify a heretofore unappreciated IgA plasmablast response to DENV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2020.102733DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7170960PMC
April 2020

Route of inoculation and mosquito vector exposure modulate dengue virus replication kinetics and immune responses in rhesus macaques.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2020 04 8;14(4):e0008191. Epub 2020 Apr 8.

GSK Vaccines, Rixensart, Belgium.

Dengue virus (DENV) is transmitted by infectious mosquitoes during blood-feeding via saliva containing biologically-active proteins. Here, we examined the effect of varying DENV infection modality in rhesus macaques in order to improve the DENV nonhuman primate (NHP) challenge model. NHPs were exposed to DENV-1 via subcutaneous or intradermal inoculation of virus only, intradermal inoculation of virus and salivary gland extract, or infectious mosquito feeding. The infectious mosquito feeding group exhibited delayed onset of viremia, greater viral loads, and altered clinical and immune responses compared to other groups. After 15 months, NHPs in the subcutaneous and infectious mosquito feeding groups were re-exposed to either DENV-1 or DENV-2. Viral replication and neutralizing antibody following homologous challenge were suggestive of sterilizing immunity, whereas heterologous challenge resulted in productive, yet reduced, DENV-2 replication and boosted neutralizing antibody. These results show that a more transmission-relevant exposure modality resulted in viral replication closer to that observed in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008191DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7141610PMC
April 2020

Potent Zika and dengue cross-neutralizing antibodies induced by Zika vaccination in a dengue-experienced donor.

Nat Med 2020 02 3;26(2):228-235. Epub 2020 Feb 3.

Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO, USA.

Zika virus (ZIKV) has caused significant disease, with widespread cases of neurological pathology and congenital neurologic defects. Rapid vaccine development has led to a number of candidates capable of eliciting potent ZIKV-neutralizing antibodies (reviewed in refs. ). Despite advances in vaccine development, it remains unclear how ZIKV vaccination affects immune responses in humans with prior flavivirus immunity. Here we show that a single-dose immunization of ZIKV purified inactivated vaccine (ZPIV) in a dengue virus (DENV)-experienced human elicited potent cross-neutralizing antibodies to both ZIKV and DENV. Using a unique ZIKV virion-based sorting strategy, we isolated and characterized multiple antibodies, including one termed MZ4, which targets a novel site of vulnerability centered on the Envelope (E) domain I/III linker region and protects mice from viremia and viral dissemination following ZIKV or DENV-2 challenge. These data demonstrate that Zika vaccination in a DENV-experienced individual can boost pre-existing flavivirus immunity and elicit protective responses against both ZIKV and DENV. ZPIV vaccination in Puerto Rican individuals with prior flavivirus experience yielded similar cross-neutralizing potency after a single vaccination, highlighting the potential benefit of ZIKV vaccination in flavivirus-endemic areas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-019-0746-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7018608PMC
February 2020

An Innovative, Prospective, Hybrid Cohort-Cluster Study Design to Characterize Dengue Virus Transmission in Multigenerational Households in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand.

Am J Epidemiol 2020 07;189(7):648-659

Difficulties inherent in the identification of immune correlates of protection or severe disease have challenged the development and evaluation of dengue vaccines. There persist substantial gaps in knowledge about the complex effects of age and sequential dengue virus (DENV) exposures on these correlations. To address these gaps, we were conducting a novel family-based cohort-cluster study for DENV transmission in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand. The study began in 2015 and is funded until at least 2023. As of May 2019, 2,870 individuals in 485 families were actively enrolled. The families comprise at least 1 child born into the study as a newborn, 1 other child, a parent, and a grandparent. The median age of enrolled participants is 21 years (range 0-93 years). Active surveillance is performed to detect acute dengue illnesses, and annual blood testing identifies subclinical seroconversions. Extended follow-up of this cohort will detect sequential infections and correlate antibody kinetics and sequence of infections with disease outcomes. The central goal of this prospective study is to characterize how different DENV exposure histories within multigenerational family units, from DENV-naive infants to grandparents with multiple prior DENV exposures, affect transmission, disease, and protection at the level of the individual, household, and community.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwaa008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7393304PMC
July 2020

Multiplexed FluoroSpot for the Analysis of Dengue Virus- and Zika Virus-Specific and Cross-Reactive Memory B Cells.

J Immunol 2018 12 9;201(12):3804-3814. Epub 2018 Nov 9.

Institute for Immunology and Informatics, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Rhode Island, Providence, RI 02903;

Dengue virus (DENV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) are mosquito-borne pathogens that have a significant impact on human health. Immune sera, mAbs, and memory B cells (MBCs) isolated from patients infected with one DENV type can be cross-reactive with the other three DENV serotypes and even more distantly related flaviviruses such as ZIKV. Conventional ELISPOTs effectively measure Ab-secreting B cells but because they are limited to the assessment of a single Ag at a time, it is challenging to distinguish serotype-specific and cross-reactive MBCs in the same well. We developed a novel multifunction FluoroSpot assay using fluorescently labeled DENV and ZIKV (FLVs) that measures the cross-reactivity of Abs secreted by single B cells. Conjugation efficiency and recognition of FLVs by virus-specific Abs were confirmed by flow cytometry. Using a panel of DENV immune, ZIKV immune, and naive PBMC, FLVs were able to simultaneously detect DENV serotype-specific, ZIKV-specific, DENV serotype cross-reactive, and DENV/ZIKV cross-reactive Abs secreted by individual MBCs. Our findings indicate that the FLVs are sensitive and specific tools to detect specific and cross-reactive MBCs. These reagents will allow the assessment of the breadth as well as the durability of DENV/ZIKV B cell responses following vaccination or natural infection. This novel approach using FLVs in a FluoroSpot assay can be applied to other diseases such as influenza in which prior immunity with homosubtype- or heterosubtype-specific MBCs may influence subsequent infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1800892DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6289764PMC
December 2018

Decreased accumulation of subgenomic RNA in human cells infected with vaccine candidate DEN4Δ30 increases viral susceptibility to type I interferon.

Vaccine 2018 06 8;36(24):3460-3467. Epub 2018 May 8.

Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Building 31, National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. Electronic address:

The NIH has developed live attenuated dengue virus (DENV) vaccine candidates by deletion of 30 nucleotides (Δ30) from the untranslated region of the viral genome. Although this attenuation strategy has proven to be effective in generating safe and immunogenic vaccine strains, the molecular mechanism of attenuation is largely unknown. To examine the mediators of the observed attenuation phenotype, differences in translation efficiency, genome replication, cytotoxicity, and type I interferon susceptibility were compared between wild type parental DENV and DENVΔ30 attenuated vaccine candidates. We observed that decreased accumulation of subgenomic RNA (sfRNA) from the vaccine candidates in infected human cells causes increased type I IFN susceptibility and propose this as one of the of attenuation mechanisms produced by the 3' UTR Δ30 mutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.04.087DOI Listing
June 2018

Delineating the serotype-specific neutralizing antibody response to a live attenuated tetravalent dengue vaccine.

Vaccine 2018 04 27;36(18):2403-2410. Epub 2018 Mar 27.

Viral Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD, USA.

The dengue virus (DENV) vaccines that are licensed or in clinical development consist of DENV serotype 1-4 tetravalent formulations given simultaneously and are not acquired sequentially like natural infections. It is unclear what effect this has on development of protective levels of immunity to all four serotypes. Serotype-specific neutralizing antibody (NAb) is considered the most relevant correlate of protection from dengue disease. Here we assessed levels of serotype-specific and cross-reactive NAb in immune sera from 10 subjects vaccinated with a live attenuated tetravalent DENV vaccine developed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. The majority of subjects NAb responses to DENV-2 and DENV-4 were type-specific, while their NAb responses to DENV-1 and DENV-3 were primarily cross-reactive. Vaccine virus RNAemia has been most frequently detected for DENV-2 and DENV-4 in vaccinated subjects, strongly suggesting that replication is important for eliciting serotype-specific immunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.03.055DOI Listing
April 2018

African and Asian Zika Virus Isolates Display Phenotypic Differences Both In Vitro and In Vivo.

Am J Trop Med Hyg 2018 02 21;98(2):432-444. Epub 2017 Dec 21.

Virology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Frederick, Maryland.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne member of the genus that has emerged since 2007 to cause outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and most recently, in the Americas. Here, we used an isolate history as well as genetic and phylogenetic analyses to characterize three low-passage isolates representing African (ArD 41525) and Asian (CPC-0740, SV0127-14) lineages to investigate the potential phenotypic differences in vitro and in vivo. The African isolate displayed a large plaque phenotype (∼3-4 mm) on Vero and HEK-293 cells, whereas the Asian isolates either exhibited a small plaque phenotype (∼1-2 mm) or did not produce any plaques. In multistep replication kinetics in nine different vertebrate and insect cell lines, the African isolate consistently displayed faster replication kinetics and yielded ∼10- to 10,000-fold higher peak virus titers (infectious or RNA copies) compared with the Asian isolates. Oral exposure of mosquitoes with the African isolate yielded higher infection and dissemination rates compared with the Asian isolates. Infection of mice with the African isolate produced a uniformly fatal disease, whereas infection with the Asian isolates produced either a delay in time-to-death or a significantly lower mortality rate. Last, the African isolate was > 10,000-fold more virulent than the Asian isolates in an interferon type I antibody blockade mouse model. These data demonstrate substantial phenotypic differences between low-passage African and Asian isolates both in vitro and in vivo and warrant further investigation. They also highlight the need for basic characterization of ZIKV isolates, as the utilization of the uncharacterized isolates could have consequences for animal model and therapeutic/vaccine development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.17-0685DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5929214PMC
February 2018

Durability and correlates of vaccine protection against Zika virus in rhesus monkeys.

Sci Transl Med 2017 Dec;9(420)

Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

An effective Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccine will require long-term durable protection. Several ZIKV vaccine candidates have demonstrated protective efficacy in nonhuman primates, but these studies have typically involved ZIKV challenge shortly after vaccination at peak immunity. We show that a single immunization with an adenovirus vector-based vaccine, as well as two immunizations with a purified inactivated virus vaccine, afforded robust protection against ZIKV challenge in rhesus monkeys at 1 year after vaccination. In contrast, two immunizations with an optimized DNA vaccine, which provided complete protection at peak immunity, resulted in reduced protective efficacy at 1 year that was associated with declining neutralizing antibody titers to subprotective levels. These data define a microneutralization log titer of 2.0 to 2.1 as the threshold required for durable protection against ZIKV challenge in this model. Moreover, our findings demonstrate that protection against ZIKV challenge in rhesus monkeys is possible for at least 1 year with a single-shot vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aao4163DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5747972PMC
December 2017

Impact of prior flavivirus immunity on Zika virus infection in rhesus macaques.

PLoS Pathog 2017 Aug 3;13(8):e1006487. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America.

Studies have demonstrated cross-reactivity of anti-dengue virus (DENV) antibodies in human sera against Zika virus (ZIKV), promoting increased ZIKV infection in vitro. However, the correlation between in vitro and in vivo findings is not well characterized. Thus, we evaluated the impact of heterotypic flavivirus immunity on ZIKV titers in biofluids of rhesus macaques. Animals previously infected (≥420 days) with DENV2, DENV4, or yellow fever virus were compared to flavivirus-naïve animals following infection with a Brazilian ZIKV strain. Sera from DENV-immune macaques demonstrated cross-reactivity with ZIKV by antibody-binding and neutralization assays prior to ZIKV infection, and promoted increased ZIKV infection in cell culture assays. Despite these findings, no significant differences between flavivirus-naïve and immune animals were observed in viral titers, neutralizing antibody levels, or immune cell kinetics following ZIKV infection. These results indicate that prior infection with heterologous flaviviruses neither conferred protection nor increased observed ZIKV titers in this non-human primate ZIKV infection model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006487DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5542404PMC
August 2017

A DENV-2-type-specific monoclonal antibody binds to the DENV-complex-reactive antigenic site on envelope protein domain 3.

J Gen Virol 2017 Jun 20;98(6):1299-1304. Epub 2017 Jun 20.

Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston TX 77555, USA.

The Dengue virus (DENV) envelope (E) protein is the major component of the viral surface and is structurally subdivided into three domains, ED1, ED2 and ED3. ED3 elicits potent neutralizing antibodies and contains two major antigenic sites: the DENV-type-specific and DENV-complex-reactive antigenic sites. Each site is composed of a limited subset of residues that are required for monoclonal antibody (mAb) binding. Here we show that DENV-2-type-specific mAb 9A3D-8 utilizes the functionally critical residues K307, V308, K310, I312, P332, L387, L389 and N390 for ED3 binding. Surprisingly, this DENV-type-specific epitope is predicted to overlap with the ED3 DENV-complex-reactive antigenic site on the viral surface. Further, this unique binding site enables mAb 9A3D-8 to neutralize virus infectivity at relatively low occupancy of virions compared to other ED3 mAbs identified to date. Together, the data in this study indicate that this is a new DENV-2-type-specific antigenic site on ED3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/jgv.0.000785DOI Listing
June 2017

Dengue virus antibody database: Systematically linking serotype-specificity with epitope mapping in dengue virus.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2017 02 21;11(2):e0005395. Epub 2017 Feb 21.

Biotechnology HPC Software Applications Institute, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland, United States of America.

Background: A majority infections caused by dengue virus (DENV) are asymptomatic, but a higher incidence of severe illness, such as dengue hemorrhagic fever, is associated with secondary infections, suggesting that pre-existing immunity plays a central role in dengue pathogenesis. Primary infections are typically associated with a largely serotype-specific antibody response, while secondary infections show a shift to a broadly cross-reactive antibody response.

Methods/principal Findings: We hypothesized that the basis for the shift in serotype-specificity between primary and secondary infections can be found in a change in the antibody fine-specificity. To investigate the link between epitope- and serotype-specificity, we assembled the Dengue Virus Antibody Database, an online repository containing over 400 DENV-specific mAbs, each annotated with information on 1) its origin, including the immunogen, host immune history, and selection methods, 2) binding/neutralization data against all four DENV serotypes, and 3) epitope mapping at the domain or residue level to the DENV E protein. We combined epitope mapping and activity information to determine a residue-level index of epitope propensity and cross-reactivity and generated detailed composite epitope maps of primary and secondary antibody responses. We found differing patterns of epitope-specificity between primary and secondary infections, where secondary responses target a distinct subset of epitopes found in the primary response. We found that secondary infections were marked with an enhanced response to cross-reactive epitopes, such as the fusion-loop and E-dimer region, as well as increased cross-reactivity in what are typically more serotype-specific epitope regions, such as the domain I-II interface and domain III.

Conclusions/significance: Our results support the theory that pre-existing cross-reactive memory B cells form the basis for the secondary antibody response, resulting in a broadening of the response in terms of cross-reactivity, and a focusing of the response to a subset of epitopes, including some, such as the fusion-loop region, that are implicated in poor neutralization and antibody-dependent enhancement of infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0005395DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5336305PMC
February 2017

Dengue viruses cluster antigenically but not as discrete serotypes.

Science 2015 Sep;349(6254):1338-43

Center for Pathogen Evolution, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK. World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Modeling, Evolution, and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK. Department of Viroscience, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam 3015 GE, Netherlands.

The four genetically divergent dengue virus (DENV) types are traditionally classified as serotypes. Antigenic and genetic differences among the DENV types influence disease outcome, vaccine-induced protection, epidemic magnitude, and viral evolution. We characterized antigenic diversity in the DENV types by antigenic maps constructed from neutralizing antibody titers obtained from African green monkeys and after human vaccination and natural infections. Genetically, geographically, and temporally, diverse DENV isolates clustered loosely by type, but we found that many are as similar antigenically to a virus of a different type as to some viruses of the same type. Primary infection antisera did not neutralize all viruses of the same DENV type any better than other types did up to 2 years after infection and did not show improved neutralization to homologous type isolates. That the canonical DENV types are not antigenically homogeneous has implications for vaccination and research on the dynamics of immunity, disease, and the evolution of DENV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aac5017DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4876809PMC
September 2015

Soluble mediators produced by the crosstalk between microvascular endothelial cells and dengue-infected primary dermal fibroblasts inhibit dengue virus replication and increase leukocyte transmigration.

Immunol Res 2016 Apr;64(2):392-403

Departmento de Biomedicina Molecular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico, Distrito Federal, Mexico.

When dengue virus (DENV)-infected mosquitoes use their proboscis to probe into human skin during blood feeding, both saliva and virus are released. During this process, cells from the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin, along with small blood vessels, may get exposed to or infected with DENV. In these microenvironments of the skin, the presence of DENV initiates a complex interplay among the DENV-infected and non-infected neighboring cells at the initial bite site. Previous studies suggested that DENV-infected human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) participate in the immune response against DENV by secreting soluble mediators of innate immunity. In the present study, we investigated whether DENV-infected HDFs activate human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMECs) in co-cultures. Our results suggest that co-cultures of DENV-infected HDFs and HDMECs elicit soluble mediators that are sufficient to reduce viral replication, activate HDMECs, and induce leukocyte migration through HDMEC monolayers. These effects were partly dependent on HDF donor and DENV serotype, which may provide novel insights into the natural variation in host susceptibility to DENV disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12026-015-8675-8DOI Listing
April 2016

Genetic Determinants of Japanese Encephalitis Virus Vaccine Strain SA14-14-2 That Govern Attenuation of Virulence in Mice.

J Virol 2015 Jun 8;89(12):6328-37. Epub 2015 Apr 8.

Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Unlabelled: The safety and efficacy of the live-attenuated Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) SA14-14-2 vaccine are attributed to mutations that accumulated in the viral genome during its derivation. However, little is known about the contribution that is made by most of these mutations to virulence attenuation and vaccine immunogenicity. Here, we generated recombinant JEV (rJEV) strains containing JEV SA14-14-2 vaccine-specific mutations that are located in the untranslated regions (UTRs) and seven protein genes or are introduced from PCR-amplified regions of the JEV SA14-14-2 genome. The resulting mutant viruses were evaluated in tissue culture and in mice. The authentic JEV SA14-14-2 (E) protein, with amino acid substitutions L107F, E138K, I176V, T177A, E244G, Q264H, K279M, A315V, S366A, and K439R relative to the wild-type rJEV clone, was essential and sufficient for complete attenuation of neurovirulence. Individually, the nucleotide substitution T39A in the 5' UTR (5'-UTR-T39A), the capsid (C) protein amino acid substitution L66S (C-L66S), and the complete NS1/2A genome region containing 10 mutations each significantly reduced virus neuroinvasion but not neurovirulence. The levels of peripheral virulence attenuation imposed by the 5'-UTR-T39A and C-L66S mutations, individually, were somewhat mitigated in combination with other vaccine strain-specific mutations, which might be compensatory, and together did not affect immunogenicity. However, a marked reduction in immunogenicity was observed with the addition of the NS1/2A and NS5 vaccine virus genome regions. These results suggest that a second-generation recombinant vaccine can be rationally engineered to maximize levels of immunogenicity without compromising safety.

Importance: The live-attenuated JEV SA14-14-2 vaccine has been vital for controlling the incidence of disease caused by JEV, particularly in rural areas of Asia where it is endemic. The vaccine was developed >25 years ago by passaging wild-type JEV strain SA14 in tissue cultures and rodents, with intermittent tissue culture plaque purifications, to produce a virus clone that had adequate levels of attenuation and immunogenicity. The vaccine and parent virus sequences were later compared, and mutations were identified throughout the vaccine virus genome, but their contributions to attenuation were never fully elucidated. Here, using reverse genetics, we comprehensively defined the impact of JEV SA14-14-2 mutations on attenuation of virulence and immunogenicity in mice. These results are relevant for quality control of new lots of the current live-attenuated vaccine and provide insight for the rational design of second-generation, live-attenuated, recombinant JEV vaccine candidates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00219-15DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4474313PMC
June 2015

Functional analysis of dengue virus (DENV) type 2 envelope protein domain 3 type-specific and DENV complex-reactive critical epitope residues.

J Gen Virol 2015 Feb 22;96(Pt 2):288-293. Epub 2014 Oct 22.

Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, and Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0436, USA.

The dengue virus (DENV) envelope protein domain 3 (ED3) is the target of potent virus neutralizing antibodies. The DENV-2 ED3 contains adjacent type-specific and DENV complex-reactive antigenic sites that are composed of a small number of residues that were previously demonstrated to be critical for antibody binding. Site-directed mutagenesis of a DENV-2 16681 infectious clone was used to mutate critical residues in the DENV-2 type-specific (K305A and P384A) and DENV complex-reactive (K310A) antigenic sites. The K305A mutant virus multiplied like the parent virus in mosquito and mammalian cells, as did the P384A mutant virus, which required a compensatory mutation (G330D) for viability. However, the K310A mutant virus could not be recovered. The DENV-2 type-specific critical residue mutations K305A and P384A+G330D reduced the ability of DENV-2 type-specific, but not DENV complex-reactive, mAbs to neutralize virus infectivity and this was directly correlated with mAb binding affinity to the rED3 mutants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/vir.0.070813-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4298678PMC
February 2015

Genetic and phenotypic properties of vero cell-adapted Japanese encephalitis virus SA14-14-2 vaccine strain variants and a recombinant clone, which demonstrates attenuation and immunogenicity in mice.

Am J Trop Med Hyg 2015 Jan 13;92(1):98-107. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

The live-attenuated Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) SA14-14-2 vaccine, produced in primary hamster kidney cells, is safe and effective. Past attempts to adapt this virus to replicate in cells that are more favorable for vaccine production resulted in mutations that significantly reduced immunogenicity. In this study, 10 genetically distinct Vero cell-adapted JEV SA14-14-2 variants were isolated and a recombinant wild-type JEV clone, modified to contain the JEV SA14-14-2 polyprotein amino acid sequence, was recovered in Vero cells. A single capsid protein mutation (S66L) was important for Vero cell-adaptation. Mutations were also identified that modulated virus sensitivity to type I interferon-stimulation in Vero cells. A subset of JEV SA14-14-2 variants and the recombinant clone were evaluated in vivo and exhibited levels of attenuation that varied significantly in suckling mice, but were avirulent and highly immunogenic in weanling mice and are promising candidates for the development of a second-generation, recombinant vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.14-0427DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4347400PMC
January 2015

Japanese encephalitis virus vaccine candidates generated by chimerization with dengue virus type 4.

Vaccine 2014 May 31;32(25):3010-8. Epub 2014 Mar 31.

Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States.

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a leading cause of viral encephalitis worldwide and vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent disease. A suitable live-attenuated JEV vaccine could be formulated with a live-attenuated tetravalent dengue vaccine for the control of these viruses in endemic areas. Toward this goal, we generated chimeric virus vaccine candidates by replacing the precursor membrane (prM) and envelope (E) protein structural genes of recombinant dengue virus type 4 (rDEN4) or attenuated vaccine candidate rDEN4Δ30 with those of wild-type JEV strain India/78. Mutations were engineered in E, NS3 and NS4B protein genes to improve replication in Vero cells. The chimeric viruses were attenuated in mice and some elicited modest but protective levels of immunity after a single dose. One particular chimeric virus, bearing E protein mutation Q264H, replicated to higher titer in tissue culture and was significantly more immunogenic in mice. The results are compared with live-attenuated JEV vaccine strain SA14-14-2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.03.062DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4083695PMC
May 2014

Conservation of the DENV-2 type-specific and DEN complex-reactive antigenic sites among DENV-2 genotypes.

Virology 2012 Jan 5;422(2):386-92. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0436, USA.

The envelope (E) protein is composed of three domains (ED1, ED2 and ED3) with ED3 targeted by the most potent neutralizing antibodies. DENV-2 strains can be divided into six genotypes. Comparison of ED3 of representative strains of the six genotypes revealed that there are nine variable residues that are specific to a given genotype. Recombinant ED3s (rED3s) of six different DENV-2 strains representing all nine variable residues were expressed, and their reactivity against a panel of two DENV-2 type-specific and three DENV complex-reactive monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were compared. The differences in binding affinity to the rED3s representing different DENV-2 genotypes were relatively small, with the exception of type-specific-mAb 3H5 that showed up to 10-fold differences in binding between genotypes. Overall the binding differences did not lead to detectable differences in neutralization. Based on these results, DENV-2 ED3-specific neutralizing antibodies will likely be effective against DENV-2 strains from all six genotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2011.10.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4142575PMC
January 2012

Mutations of an antibody binding energy hot spot on domain III of the dengue 2 envelope glycoprotein exploited for neutralization escape.

Virology 2010 Nov 15;407(2):237-46. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Department of Pathology, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, and Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0609, USA.

Previous crystallographic studies have identified a total of 11 DENV-2 envelope protein domain III (ED3) residues (K305, F306, K307, V308, V309, K310, I312, Q325, P364, K388, and N390) that interacted, through both side- and main-chain contacts, with the Fab of a dengue virus (DENV) subcomplex-specific neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb) 1A1D-2 (Lok et al., 2008). Here, we used DENV-2 recombinant ED3 mutants of the MAb 1A1D-2 structural epitope residues to determine the functional epitope of this MAb. The side-chains of residues K307, K310 and I312 were determined to be functionally critical for MAb binding, and thus constitute a hot spot of binding energy for MAb 1A1D-2 on the DENV-2 ED3. Overall, these findings demonstrate that only a subset of the amino acid residue side-chains within the structural epitope of MAb 1A1D-2 define a functional epitope on the DENV-2 ED3 that is essential for MAb binding and neutralization escape.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2010.06.044DOI Listing
November 2010

Role of BC loop residues in structure, function and antigenicity of the West Nile virus envelope protein receptor-binding domain III.

Virology 2010 Jul 6;403(1):85-91. Epub 2010 May 6.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA.

Site-directed mutagenesis of residues in the BC loop (residues 329-333) of the envelope (E) protein domain III in a West Nile virus (WNV) infectious clone and in plasmids encoding recombinant WNV and dengue type 2 virus domain III proteins demonstrated a critical role for residues in this loop in the function and antigenicity of the E protein. This included a strict requirement for the tyrosine at residue 329 of WNV for virus viability and E domain III folding. The absence of an equivalent residue in this region of yellow fever group viruses and most tick-borne flavivirus suggests there is an evolutionary divergence in the molecular mechanisms of domain III folding employed by different flaviviruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2010.03.038DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897250PMC
July 2010
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