Monoclonal antibodies against all known variants of EspA: development of a simple diagnostic test for enteropathogenic Escherichia coli based on a key virulence factor
2016-02-24T10:05:16Z (GMT) by
Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) are a major cause of infant diarrhoea in developing countries and a significant public health issue in industrialized countries. Currently there are no simple tests available for the diagnosis of EPEC. Serology of O-antigens is widely used routinely in many laboratories throughout the world, even though it has been known for many years to be an unreliable indicator of EPEC virulence. We have developed a simple, low-cost immunodiagnostic test based on the EspA filament, an essential virulence factor of EPEC and the related enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC). Using recombinant proteins of the five major variants of EspA as immunogens, we raised a panel of three monoclonal antibodies in mice that detects all variants of the native target in bacterial cultures. The antibodies proved suitable for application in sandwich-type assays, including ELISA and lateral flow immunoassays (LFI). Prototypes for both assays were specific for EPEC and EHEC strains when tested against a panel of control micro-organisms. We have also developed a simple, affordable culture medium, A/E medium, which optimizes expression of EspA allowing improved sensitivity of detection compared with standard Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium. Together these reagents form the basis of robust, informative tests for EPEC for use especially in developing countries but also for routine screening in any clinical laboratory.