Identification of B cell recognized linear epitopes in a snake venom serine proteinase from the central American bushmasterLachesis stenophrys

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Snake venom serine proteinases are toxins that perturb hemostasis acting on proteins from the blood coagulation cascade, the fibrinolytic or the kallikrein–kinin system. Despite the relevance of these enzymes in envenomations by viper bites, the characterization of the antibody response to these toxins at the molecular level has not been previously addressed. In this work surface-located B cell recognized linear epitopes from a Lachesis stenophrys venom serine proteinase (UniProt accession number Q072L7) were predicted using an artificial neuronal network at the ABCpred server, the corresponding peptides were synthesized and their immunoreactivity was analyzed against a panel of experimental and therapeutic antivenoms. A molecular model of the L. stenophrys enzyme was built using as a template the structure of the D. acutus Dav-PA serine proteinase (Q9I8X1), which displays the highest degree of sequence similarity to the L. stenophrys enzyme among proteins of known 3D structure, and the surface-located epitopes were identified in the protein model using iCn3D. A total of 13 peptides corresponding to the surface exposed predicted epitopes from L. stenophrys serine proteinase were synthesized and, their reactivity with a rabbit antiserum against the recombinant enzyme and a panel of antivenoms was evaluated by a capture ELISA. Some of the epitopes recognized by monospecific and polyspecific antivenoms comprise sequences overlapping motifs conserved in viper venom serine proteinases. The identification and characterization of relevant epitopes recognized by B cells in snake venom toxins may provide valuable information for the preparation of immunogens that help in the production of improved therapeutic antivenoms.

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