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Identification of Anti-Premembrane Antibody as a Serocomplex-Specific Marker To Discriminate Zika, Dengue, and West Nile Virus Infections


Identification of Anti-Premembrane Antibody as a Serocomplex-Specific Marker To Discriminate Zika, Dengue, and West Nile Virus Infections



Journal of Virology 2021: Jvi0061921



ISSN/ISBN: 0022-538x

PMID: 34232731

Although transmission of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas has greatly declined since late 2017, recent reports of reduced risks of symptomatic Zika by prior dengue virus (DENV) infection and increased risks of severe dengue disease by previous ZIKV or DENV infection underscore a critical need for serological tests that can discriminate past ZIKV, DENV and/or other flavivirus infections and improve our understanding of the immune interactions between these viruses and vaccine strategy in endemic regions. As serological tests for ZIKV primarily focus on envelope (E) and nonstructural protein 1 (NS1), antibodies to other ZIKV proteins have not been explored. Here we employed Western blot analysis using antigens of 6 flaviviruses from 3 serocomplexes to investigate antibody responses following reverse-transcription-polymerase-chain reaction-confirmed ZIKV infection. Panels of 20 primary ZIKV and 20 ZIKV with previous DENV infection recognized E proteins of all 6 flaviviruses and NS1 protein of ZIKV with some cross-reactivity to DENV. While the primary ZIKV panel recognized only the premembrane (prM) protein of ZIKV, the ZIKV with previous DENV panel recognized both ZIKV and DENV prM proteins. Analysis of antibody responses following 42 DENV and 18 West Nile virus infections revealed similar patterns of recognition by anti-E and anti-NS1 antibodies, whereas both panels recognized prM protein of homologous serocomplex but not others. The specificity was further supported by analysis of sequential samples. Together, these findings suggest that anti-prM antibody is a flavivirus serocomplex-specific marker and can be used to delineate current and past flavivirus infections in endemic areas. IMPORTANCE Despite a decline in Zika virus (ZIKV) transmission since late 2017, questions regarding its surveillance, potential re-emergence, and interactions with other flaviviruses in endemic regions remain unanswered. Recent studies have reported reduced risks of symptomatic Zika by prior dengue virus (DENV) infection and increased risks of severe dengue disease by previous ZIKV or DENV infection, highlighting a need for better serological tests to discriminate past ZIKV, DENV and/or other flavivirus infections and improved understanding of the immune interactions and vaccine strategy for these viruses. As most serological tests for ZIKV focused on envelope and nonstructural protein 1, antibodies to other ZIKV proteins including potentially specific antibodies remain understudied. We employed Western blot analysis using antigens of 6 flaviviruses to study antibody responses following well-documented ZIKV, DENV and West Nile virus infections and identified anti-premembrane antibody as a flavivirus serocomplex-specific marker to delineate current and past flavivirus infections in endemic areas.

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Accession: 071917830

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