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Antibody Epitopes Identified in Critical Regions of Dengue Virus Nonstructural 1 Protein in Mouse Vaccination and Natural Human Infections


Dengue is a global public health problem and is caused by four dengue virus (DENV) serotypes (DENV1-4). A major challenge in dengue vaccine development is that cross-reactive anti-DENV Abs can be protective or potentially increase disease via Ab-dependent enhancement. DENV nonstructural protein 1 (NS1) has long been considered a vaccine candidate as it avoids Ab-dependent enhancement. In this study, we evaluated survival to challenge in a lethal DENV vascular leak model in mice immunized with NS1 combined with aluminum and magnesium hydroxide, monophosphoryl lipid A + AddaVax, or Sigma adjuvant system+CpG DNA, compared with mice infected with a sublethal dose of DENV2 and mice immunized with OVA (negative control). We characterized Ab responses to DENV1, 2, and 3 NS1 using an Ag microarray tiled with 20-mer peptides overlapping by 15 aa and identified five regions of DENV NS1 with significant levels of Ab reactivity in the NS1 + monophosphoryl lipid A + AddaVax group. Additionally, we profiled the Ab responses to NS1 of humans naturally infected with DENV2 or DENV3 in serum samples from Nicaragua collected at acute, convalescent, and 12-mo timepoints. One region in the wing domain of NS1 was immunodominant in both mouse vaccination and human infection studies, and two regions were identified only in NS1-immunized mice; thus, vaccination can generate Abs to regions that are not targeted in natural infection and could provide additional protection against lethal DENV infection. Overall, we identified a small number of immunodominant regions, which were in functionally important locations on the DENV NS1 protein and are potential correlates of protection.

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