Characterizing Complex Polysera Produced by Antigen-Specific Immunization through the Use of Affinity-Selected Mimotopes
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BACKGROUND: Antigen-based (as opposed to whole organism) vaccines are actively being pursued for numerous indications. Even though different formulations may produce similar levels of total antigen-specific antibody, the composition of the antibody response can be quite distinct resulting in different levels of therapeutic activity. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using plasmid-based immunization against the proto-oncogene HER-2 as a model, we have demonstrated that affinity-selected epitope mimetics (mimotopes) can provide a defined signature of a polyclonal antibody response. Further, using novel computer algorithms that we have developed, these mimotopes can be used to predict epitope targets. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: By combining our novel strategy with existing methods of epitope prediction based on physical properties of an individual protein, we believe that this method offers a robust method for characterizing the breadth of epitope-specificity within a specific polyserum. This strategy is useful as a tool for monitoring immunity following vaccination and can also be used to define relevant epitopes for the creation of novel vaccines.
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