Identifying the targets of antibody responses during infection is important for designing vaccines, developing diagnostic and prognostic tools, and understanding pathogenesis. We developed a novel deep sequence-coupled biopanning approach capable of identifying the protein epitopes of antibodies present in human polyclonal serum. Here, we report the adaptation of this approach for the identification of pathogen-specific epitopes recognized by antibodies elicited during acute infection. As a proof-of-principle, we applied this approach to assessing antibodies to Dengue virus (DENV). Using a panel of sera from patients with acute secondary DENV infection, we panned a DENV antigen fragment library displayed on the surface of bacteriophage MS2 virus-like particles and characterized the population of affinity-selected peptide epitopes by deep sequence analysis. Although there was considerable variation in the responses of individuals, we found several epitopes within the Envelope glycoprotein and Non-Structural Protein 1 that were commonly enriched. This report establishes a novel approach for characterizing pathogen-specific antibody responses in human sera, and has future utility in identifying novel diagnostic and vaccine targets.
Frietze, K. M., Pascale, J. M., Moreno, B., Chackerian, B., & Peabody, D. S. (2017). Pathogen-specific deep sequence-coupled biopanning: A method for surveying human antibody responses. PLoS ONE, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171511