A novel computer algorithm improves antibody epitope prediction using affinity-selected mimotopes: A case study using monoclonal antibodies against the West Nile virus E protein
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Understanding antibody function is often enhanced by knowledge of the specific binding epitope. Here, we describe a computer algorithm that permits epitope prediction based on a collection of random peptide epitopes (mimotopes) isolated by antibody affinity purification. We applied this methodology to the prediction of epitopes for five monoclonal antibodies against the West Nile virus (WNV) E protein, two of which exhibit therapeutic activity in vivo. This strategy was validated by comparison of our results with existing F(ab)-E protein crystal structures and mutational analysis by yeast surface display. We demonstrate that by combining the results of the mimotope method with our data from mutational analysis, epitopes could be predicted with greater certainty. The two methods displayed great complementarity as the mutational analysis facilitated epitope prediction when the results with the mimotope method were equivocal and the mimotope method revealed a broader number of residues within the epitope than the mutational analysis. Our results demonstrate that the combination of these two prediction strategies provides a robust platform for epitope characterization.
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