Impact of Ebola mucin-like domain on antiglycoprotein antibody responses induced by Ebola virus-like particles

Martinez M, Tantral L, Mulherkar N, Chandran K, Basler CF. 2011. J Infect Dis 204: S825.

[doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir295]  [Download PDF]


Ebola virus (EBOV) glycoprotein (GP), responsible for mediating host-cell attachment and membrane fusion, contains a heavily glycosylated mucin-like domain hypothesized to shield GP from neutralizing antibodies. To test whether the mucin-like domain inhibits the production and function of anti-GP antibodies, we vaccinated mice with Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs) that express vesicular stomatitis virus G, wild-type EBOV GP (EBGP), EBOV GP without its mucin-like domain (∆MucGP), or EBOV GP with a Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever virus mucin-like domain substituted for the EBOV mucin-like domain (CMsubGP). EBGPVLP immunized mice elicited significantly higher serum antibody titers toward EBGP or its mutants, as detected by western blot analysis, than did VLP-∆MucGP. However, EBGP-, ∆MucGP- and CMsubGP-VLP immunized mouse sera contained antibodies that bound to cell surface-expressed GP at similar levels. Furthermore, low but similar neutralizing antibody titers, measured against a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) expressing EBGP or ∆MucGP, were present in EBGP, ∆MucGP, and CMsubGP sera, although a slightly higher neutralizing titer (2- to 2.5-fold) was detected in ∆MucGP sera. We conclude that the EBOV GP mucin-like domain can increase relative anti-GP titers, however these titers appear to be directed, at least partly, to denatured GP. Furthermore, removing the mucin-like domain from immunizing VLPs has modest impact on neutralizing antibody titers in serum.