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Engineered biomarkers for leprosy diagnosis using labeled and label-free analysis

de Santana, Juliana F., da Silva, Mariângela R.B., Picheth, Guilherme F., Yamanaka, Isabel B., Fogaça, Rafaela L., Thomaz-Soccol, Vanete, Machado-de-Avila, Ricardo A., Chávez-Olórtegui, Carlos, Sierakowski, Maria Rita, de Freitas, Rilton Alves, Alvarenga, Larissa M., de Moura, Juliana
Talanta 2018 v.187 pp. 165-171
Mycobacterium leprae, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, antibodies, antigen-antibody reactions, antigens, biomarkers, blood serum, coatings, engineering, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, humans, immunosensors, leprosy, models, patients, quartz crystal microbalance, synthetic peptides
The biotechnological evolution towards the development of antigens to detect leprosy has been progressing. However, the identification of leprosy in paucibacillary patients, based solely on the antigen-antibody interaction still remains a challenge. The complexity of clinical manifestations requires innovative approaches to improve the sensitivity of assays to detect leprosy before the onset of symptoms, thus avoiding disabilities and contributing, indirectly, to reduce transmission. In this study, the strategies employed for early leprosy diagnosis were: i. using a phage-displayed mimotope (APDDPAWQNIFNLRR) which mimics an immunodominant sequence (PPNDPAWQRNDPILQ) of an antigen of Mycobacterium leprae known as Ag85B; ii. engineering the mimotope by adding a C-terminal flexible spacer (SGSG-C); iii. conjugating the mimotope to a carrier protein to provide better exposure to antibodies; iv. amplifying the signal using biotin–streptavidin detection system in an ELISA; and v. coating the optimized mimotope on a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) sensor for label-free biosensing. The ELISA sensitivity increased up to 91.7% irrespective of the immunological profile of the 132 patients assayed. By using comparative modeling, the M. tuberculosis Ag85B was employed as a template to ascertain which features make the mimotope a good antigen in terms of its specificity. For the first time, a sensitive QCM-based immunosensor to detect anti M. leprae antibodies in human serum was used. M. leprae antibodies could also be detected in the sera of paucibacillary patients; thus, the use of a mimotope-derived synthetic peptide as bait for antibodies in a novel analytical label-free immunoassay for leprosy diagnosis exhibits great potential.