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Antigenicity, stability, and reproducibility of Zika reporter virus particles for long-term applications

By J Charles Whitbeck, Anu Thomas, Kathryn Kadash-Edmondson, Ariadna Grinyo i Escuer, Celine Cheng, Grant C Liao, Frederick W Holtsberg, M Javad Aman, Graham Simmons, Edgar Davidson, Benjamin J Doranz

Posted 22 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.21.047241

The development of vaccines against flaviviruses, including Zika virus (ZIKV) and dengue virus (DENV), continues to be a major challenge, hindered by the lack of efficient and reliable methods for screening neutralizing activity of sera or antibodies. To address this need, we previously developed a plasmid-based, replication-incompetent DENV reporter virus particle (RVP) production system as an efficient and safe alternative to the Plaque Reduction Neutralization Test (PRNT). As part of the response to the 2015-2016 ZIKV outbreak, we recently developed pseudo-infectious ZIKV RVPs by modifying our DENV RVP system. The use of ZIKV RVPs as critical reagents in human clinical trials requires their further validation using stability and reproducibility metrics for large-scale applications. In the current study, we validated ZIKV RVPs using infectivity, neutralization, and enhancement assays with monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and human ZIKV-positive patient serum. ZIKV RVPs are antigenically identical to live virus based on binding ELISA and neutralization results and are nonreplicating based on the results of plaque formation assays. We demonstrate reproducible neutralization titer data (NT50 values) across different RVP production lots, volumes, time frames, and laboratories. We also show RVP stability across experimentally relevant time intervals and temperatures. Our results demonstrate that ZIKV RVPs provide a safe, rapid, and reproducible reagent for large-scale, long-term studies of neutralizing antibodies and sera, which can facilitate large-scale screening and epidemiological studies to help expedite ZIKV vaccine development. ### Competing Interest Statement Integral Molecular produces and sells ZIKV RVPs as a commercial product. J. Charles Whitbeck, Anu Thomas, Kathryn Kadash-Edmondson, Ariadna Grinyo i Escuer, Edgar Davidson and Benjamin J. Doranz are all current or former employees of Integral Molecular.

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