Antibody responses to Zika virus proteins in pregnant and non-pregnant macaques

by Anna S. Heffron, Emma L. Mohr, David Baker, Amelia K. Haj, Connor R. Buechler, Adam Bailey, Dawn M. Dudley, Christina M. Newman, Mariel S. Mohns, Michelle Koenig, Meghan E. Breitbach, Mustafa Rasheed, Laurel M. Stewart, Jens Eickhoff, Richard S. Pinapati, Erica Beckman, Hanying Li, Jigar Patel, John C. Tan, David H. O’Connor

The specificity of the antibody response against Zika virus (ZIKV) is not well-characterized. This is due, in part, to the antigenic similarity between ZIKV and closely related dengue virus (DENV) serotypes. Since these and other similar viruses co-circulate, are spread by the same mosquito species, and can cause similar acute clinical syndromes, it is difficult to disentangle ZIKV-specific antibody responses from responses to closely-related arboviruses in humans. Here we use high-density peptide microarrays to profile anti-ZIKV antibody reactivity in pregnant and non-pregnant macaque monkeys with known exposure histories and compare these results to reactivity following DENV infection. We also compare cross-reactive binding of ZIKV-immune sera to the full proteomes of 28 arboviruses. We independently confirm a purported ZIKV-specific IgG antibody response targeting ZIKV nonstructural protein 2B (NS2B) that was recently reported in ZIKV-infected people and we show that antibody reactivity in pregnant animals can be detected as late as 127 days post-infection (dpi). However, we also show that these responses wane over time, sometimes rapidly, and in one case the response was elicited following DENV infection in a previously ZIKV-exposed animal. These results suggest epidemiologic studies assessing seroprevalence of ZIKV immunity using linear epitope-based strategies will remain challenging to interpret due to susceptibility to false positive results. However, the method used here demonstrates the potential for rapid profiling of proteome-wide antibody responses to a myriad of neglected diseases simultaneously and may be especially useful for distinguishing antibody reactivity among closely related pathogens.

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