Revealing Novel-Strain-Specific and Shared Epitopes of Infectious Bronchitis Virus Spike Glycoprotein Using Chemical Linkage of Peptides onto Scaffolds Precision Epitope Mapping.

27 Nov 2023
Sives S, Keep S, Bickerton E, Vervelde L.

The avian coronavirus, infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), is an economically important infectious disease affecting chickens, with a diverse range of serotypes found globally. The major surface protein, spike (S), has high diversity between serotypes, and amino acid differences in the S1 sub-unit are thought to be responsible for poor cross-protection afforded by vaccination. Here, we attempt to address this, by using epitope mapping technology to identify shared and serotype-specific immunogenic epitopes of the S glycoprotein of three major circulating strains of IBV, M41, QX, and 4/91, via CLIPS peptide arrays based on peptides from the S1 sub-units. The arrays were screened with sera from chickens immunised with recombinant IBV, based on Beau-R backbone expressing heterologous S, generated in two independent vaccination/challenge trials. The screening of sera from rIBV vaccination experiments led to the identification of 52 immunogenic epitopes on the S1 of M41, QX, and 4/91. The epitopes were assigned into six overlapping epitope binding regions. Based on accessibility and location in the hypervariable regions of S, three sequences, 25YVYYYQSAFRPPNGWHLQGGAYAVVNSTN54, 67TVGVIKDVYNQSVASI82, and 83AMTVPPAGMSWSVS96, were selected for further investigation, and synthetic peptide mimics were recognised by polyclonal sera. These epitopes may have the potential to contribute towards a broader cross-protective IBV vaccine.