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Bennett SJ, Yalcin D, Privatt SR, Ngalamika O, Lidenge SJ, West JT, et al. (2022) Antibody epitope profiling of the KSHV LANA protein using VirScan. PLoS Pathog 18(12): e1011033. ppat.1011033


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The humoral antibody response against Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) in infected individuals has been characterized demonstrating the latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) as the most antigenic KSHV protein. Despite the antigenicity of the protein, specific LANA epitopes have not been systematically characterized. Here, we utilized a bacteriophage T7 library, which displays 56-amino acid KSHV LANA peptides with 28-amino acid overlap (VirScan), to define those epitopes in LANA targeted by antibodies from a cohort of 62 sub-Saharan African Kaposi sarcoma (KS) patients and 22 KSHV-infected asymptomatic controls. Intra- and inter-patient breadth and magnitude of the anti-LANA responses were quantified at the peptide and amino acid levels. From these data, we derived a detailed epitope annotation of the entire LANA protein, with a high-resolution focus on the N- and C-termini. Overall, the central repeat region was highly antigenic, but the responses to this region could not be confidently mapped due to its high variability. The highly conserved N-terminus was targeted with low breadth and magnitude. In a minority of individuals, antibodies specific to the nuclear localization sequence and a portion of the proline-rich regions of the N-terminus were evident. In contrast, the first half of the conserved C-terminal domain was consistently targeted with high magnitude. Unfortunately, this region was not included in LANA partial C-terminal crystal structures, however, it was predicted to adopt predominantly random-coil structure. Coupled with functional and secondary structure domain predictions, VirScan revealed fine resolution epitope mapping of the N- and C-terminal domains of LANA that is consistent with previous antigenicity studies and may prove useful to correlate KSHV humoral immunity with pathogenesis.

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