Microbial Cryptotopes are Prominent Targets of B-cell Immunity

Academic Article


  • B-cell recognition of microbial antigens may be limited by masking of epitopes within three-dimensional structures (cryptotopes). Here we report that unmasking of cryptotopes by unfolding whole cytomegalovirus (CMV) antigen preparations with the chaotropic reagent Urea and probing with immune sera from healthy individuals (n = 109) increased ELISA signals by 36% in comparison to folded CMV antigens (P < 0.001). ELISA signals increased also significantly upon unfolding of S. aureus or E. coli antigens, whereas unfolded influenza H1N1 or respiratory syncitial virus antigens yielded reduced or unchanged reactivity in comparison to folded ones, respectively. Blocking of CMV cryptotope-specific Abs by incubation of an immunoglobuline preparation and three sera with unfolded CMV antigens enhanced clearly the neutralizing capacity of this immunoglobuline preparation against CMV infection. Thus, B-cell immunity frequently targets cryptotopes on CMV but these Abs are non-neutralizing, may reduce the neutralizing effectiveness of pathogen-specific Abs, and increase during immune maturation following primary CMV infection. The observation of functional consequences of Abs specific for cryptotopes may open whole new avenues to a better understanding of the humoral immune response to CMV and development of more effective vaccines and immunoglobuline preparations.
  • Published In

  • Scientific Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rieder FJJ; Biebl J; Kastner MT; Schneider M; Jungbauer C; Redlberger-Fritz M; Britt WJ; Kundi M; Steininger C
  • Volume

  • 6