Schistosoma japonicum is one of three major species of blood flukes causing schistosomiasis, a disease, which continues to be a major public health issue in the Philippines. SjSAP4, a member of a multigene family of saposin-like proteins, is a recognized immunodiagnostic biomarker for schistosomiasis japonica. This study aimed to identify linear B-cell epitopes on SjSAP4 and to validate their potential as components of a multi-epitope assay for the serological diagnosis of schistosomiasis japonica.Methodology
SjSAP4-derived peptides were expressed as GST-peptide-fused proteins and these were Western blot probed with human serum samples from S. japonicum Kato-Katz (KK)-positive individuals and uninfected controls. A core epitope was further identified by Western blotting through probing a series of truncated peptides with the schistosomiasis patient sera. The diagnostic performance of the core epitope-containing peptides and the full-length SjSAP4 was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using a panel of sera collected from subjects resident in a schistosomiasis-endemic area of the Philippines.Main findings
As a result of the peptide mapping, one peptide (P15) was found to be highly immunogenic in the KK-positive individuals. We subsequently showed that -S163QCSLVGDIFVDKYLD178- is a core B-cell epitope of P15. Subsequent ELISAs incorporating SjSAP4, SjSAP4-Peptide and SjSP-13V2-Peptide showed a sensitivity of 94.0%, 46.0% and 74.0%, respectively, and a specificity of 97.1%, 100% and 100%, respectively. Notably, complementary recognition of the B-cell epitopes (SjSAP4-Peptide and SjSP-13V2-Peptide) was observed in a subset of the KK-positive individuals. A dual epitope-ELISA (SjSAP4-Peptide + SjSP-13V2-Peptide-ELISA) showed a diagnostic sensitivity of 84.0% and a specificity of 100%.Conclusions/Significance
In this study, -S163QCSLVGDIFVDKYLD178- was identified as a dominant linear B-cell epitope on SjSAP4. This peptide and the complementary recognition of other B-cell epitopes using sera from different KK-positive individuals can provide the basis of developing a multi-epitope assay for the serological diagnosis of schistosomiasis.