by Laura Weber, PhD, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
Antibodies against pathogenic agents shield us from infections and are the basis of many diagnostic tests. Using peptide arrays, we investigated the antibody response upon vaccination with tetanus and the infection with Lyme disease with single amino acid resolution. The amino acid sequences of the tetanus toxin and the immunodominant VlsE antigen of B.burgdorferi were printed as overlapping peptides and incubated with patient sera.
In a second step, interacting peptides were screened in an in-depth epitope substitution analysis to identify key amino acids that are indispensable for the binding of the respective antibody. Remarkably, our studies revealed in both cases that the antibody fingerprints are almost identical, if the same epitope is targeted by antibodies. The presented approach can be applied to:
identify diagnostic peptide biomarkers
enable the study of cross-reactive antigens to prevent false positive tests
develop novel peptide-based vaccines
screen suitable anti-toxin antibodies for the treatment of infections
About the Presenter
Dr. Laura Weber received her PhD in bioengineering from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in 2017 under the supervision of Prof. Frank Breitling. During her PhD, she worked on the development of assays for the investigation of antibody fingerprints with high density peptide arrays.
During her studies at the KIT she specialized in microsystems for life sciences, medicine and biomolecular separation engineering. Currently Dr. Weber holds a postdoc position at KIT and focuses on different projects for the application and generation of peptide arrays.