Cryptococcus neoformans is an encapsulated fungus that causes a life-threatening meningoencephalitis in patients with AIDS. Monoclonal antibodies to the capsular glucuronoxylomannan can modulate the infection in mice, but the epitopes on this complex polysaccharide recognized by protective and non-protective antibodies have not been defined. We have used 2H1, one of our most protective antibodies, to screen phage display peptide libraries for peptide mimotopes that would allow us to explore the fine specificity of anti-cryptococcal polysaccharide antibodies. Hexa- and decapeptides have been identified with sequence homologies that define four motifs: 1, (E)TPXWM/LM/L; 2, W/YXWM/ LYE; 3, DWXDW; and 4, (Ar)WDGQ(Ar). Peptides representing these motifs compete with each other for a shared binding site that overlaps the polysaccharide binding site. Motifs 1 and 2 confer high affinity binding, and PA1, which displays a motif 1 peptide with the sequence LQYTPSWMLV, binds to 2H1 with a K(d) Of 295 nM. Analysis of the interaction between the 2H1 binding peptides and 24 structurally related anti-polysaccharide antibodies reveals a complex pattern of reactivity that strongly suggests binding to or close to the complementary determining regions. Furthermore, those antibodies that have been shown to have different specificity, and in some cases different protective potential, do not bind any of the peptides selected by the protective 2H1 antibody. This study shows that peptide mimotopes for a complex microbial polysaccharide can be identified by screening phage peptide libraries and demonstrates the usefulness of such peptides in analyzing closely related interactive sites of proteins in general and of antibodies in particular.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are indebted to Drs George Smith and Jamie Scott for the gift of the hexapeptide library and many helpful discussions. We thank Drs David Beenhouwer, Betty Diamond and Stanley Nathenson for reading the manuscript. This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (T32GM07288 (G.N.), CA39838 and PO1AI33184 (M.D.S.)), and the Harry Eagle Chair for Cancer Research from the National Women’s Division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (M.D.S.). P.V. was partially supported by the Philippe Foundation.
- Peptide library