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Author: J Esterhuysen (20)


Quantifying and predicting the antigenic characteristics of a virus is something of a holy grail for infectious disease research because of its central importance to the emergence of new strains, the severity of outbreaks, and vaccine selection. However, these characteristics are defined by a complex interplay of viral and host factors so that phylogenetic measures of viral similarity are often poorly correlated to antigenic relationships. Here, we generate antigenic phylogenies that track the phenotypic evolution of two serotypes of foot-and-mouth disease virus by combining host serology and viral sequence data to identify sites that are critical to their antigenic evolution.

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The genetic diversity of the three Southern African Territories (SAT) types of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) reflects high antigenic variation, and indications are that vaccines targeting each SAT-specific topotype may be needed. This has serious implications for control of FMD using vaccines as well as the choice of strains to include in regional antigen banks. Here, we investigated an intra-serotype chimeric virus, vSAT2(ZIM14)-SAT2, which was engineered by replacing the surface-exposed capsid-coding region (1B-1D/2A) of a SAT2 genome-length clone, pSAT2, with that of the field isolate, SAT2/ZIM/14/90.

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Monoclonal-antibody (MAb)-resistant mutants were used to map antigenic sites on foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), which resulted in the identification of neutralizing epitopes in the flexible βG-βH loop in VP1. For FMDV SAT2 viruses, studies have shown that at least two antigenic sites exist. By use of an infectious SAT2 cDNA clone, 10 structurally exposed and highly variable loops were identified as putative antigenic sites on the VP1, VP2, and VP3 capsid proteins of SAT2/Zimbabwe (ZIM)/7/83 (topotype II) and replaced with the corresponding regions of SAT2/Kruger National Park (KNP)/19/89 (topotype I).

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