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ABSTRACT: Understanding the antibody response in botulinum intoxication is important for vaccine design and passive prophylaxis. To investigate this activity, we have studied the immune response to BoNT/A (botulinum neurotoxin serotype A) binding domain (HC) at the molecular level using phage display. The scFv antibodies were isolated from V-gene repertoires prepared from (a) human volunteer immunized with pentavalent botulinum toxoid and (b) non-immune human peripheral blood lymphocytes and spleenocytes. A large panel of serotype specific phage expressing botulinum binding scFv could be selected from both libraries. Epitope mapping of immune scFv binders towards BoNT/A HC revealed surprisingly a limited number of scFv recognizing conformational epitopes that corresponded to two distinct groups, clusters I and II. Only scFv from cluster I exhibited neutralizing activity in the mouse hemidiaphragm assay. Anti- BoNT/A HC clones derived from a non-immune library could be conveniently grouped into clusters III-XI and appeared to share no overlapping epitopes with cluster I or II. In addition they showed no neutralization of toxin at biologically significant concentrations. We therefore suggest that a vaccine based on the pentavalent botulinum toxoid directs the humoral immune response to a limited number of immunodominant epitopes exposed on the binding domain HC.
Vaccine 03/2002; 20(11-12):1640-8. · 3.49 Impact Factor