Novel biopanning strategy to identify epitopes associated with vaccine protection

Barbara C. Bachler, Michael Humbert, Brisa Palikuqi, Nagadenahalli B. Siddappa, Samir K. Lakhashe, Robert A. Rasmussen, Ruth M. Ruprecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Identifying immune correlates of protection is important to develop vaccines against infectious diseases. We designed a novel, universally applicable strategy to profile the antibody (Ab) repertoire of protected vaccine recipients, using recombinant phages encoding random peptide libraries. The new approach, termed "protection-linked (PL) biopanning," probes the Ab paratopes of protected vaccinees versus those with vaccine failure. As proof of concept, we screened plasma samples from vaccinated rhesus macaques (RMs) that had completely resisted multiple mucosal challenges with R5-tropic simian-human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIVs). The animals had been immunized with a multicomponent vaccine (multimeric HIV-1 gp160, HIV-1 Tat, and SIV Gag-Pol particles). After PL biopanning, we analyzed the phagotopes selected for amino acid homologies; in addition to the expected Env mimotopes, one recurring motif reflected the neutralizing Ab epitope at the N terminus (NT) of HIV-1 Tat. Subsequent binding and functional assays indicated that anti-Tat NT Abs were present only in completely or partially protected RMs; peak viremia of the latter was inversely correlated with anti-Tat NT Ab titers. In contrast, highly viremic, unvaccinated controls did not develop detectable Abs against the same epitope. Based upon the protective effect observed in vivo, we suggest that Tat should be included in multicomponent HIV-1 vaccines. Our data highlight the power of the new PL-biopanning strategy to identify Ab responses with significant association to vaccine protection, regardless of the mechanism(s) or targets of the protective Abs. PL biopanning is also unbiased with regard to pathogens or disease model, making it a universal tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4403-4416
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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