Proteo-Genomic Analysis Identifies Two Major Sites of Vulnerability on Ebolavirus Glycoprotein for Neutralizing Antibodies in Convalescent Human Plasma

Pavlo Gilchuk, Adrian Guthals, Stefano R. Bonissone, Jared B. Shaw, Philipp A. Ilinykh, Kai Huang, Robin G. Bombardi, Jenny Liang, Ariadna Grinyo, Edgar Davidson, Elaine C. Chen, Bronwyn M. Gunn, Galit Alter, Erica Ollmann Saphire, Benjamin J. Doranz, Alexander Bukreyev, Larry Zeitlin, Natalie Castellana, James E. Crowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three clinically relevant ebolaviruses – Ebola (EBOV), Bundibugyo (BDBV), and Sudan (SUDV) viruses, are responsible for severe disease and occasional deadly outbreaks in Africa. The largest Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic to date in 2013-2016 in West Africa highlighted the urgent need for countermeasures, leading to the development and FDA approval of the Ebola virus vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV (Ervebo®) in 2020 and two monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based therapeutics (Inmazeb® [atoltivimab, maftivimab, and odesivimab-ebgn] and Ebanga® (ansuvimab-zykl) in 2020. The humoral response plays an indispensable role in ebolavirus immunity, based on studies of mAbs isolated from the antibody genes in peripheral blood circulating ebolavirus-specific human memory B cells. However, antibodies in the body are not secreted by circulating memory B cells in the blood but rather principally by plasma cells in the bone marrow. Little is known about the protective polyclonal antibody responses in convalescent plasma. Here we exploited both single-cell antibody gene sequencing and proteomic sequencing approaches to assess the composition of the ebolavirus glycoprotein (GP)-reactive antibody repertoire in the plasma of an EVD survivor. We first identified 1,512 GP-specific mAb variable gene sequences from single cells in the memory B cell compartment. Using mass spectrometric analysis of the corresponding GP-specific plasma IgG, we found that only a portion of the large B cell antibody repertoire was represented in the plasma. Molecular and functional analysis of proteomics-identified mAbs revealed recognition of epitopes in three major antigenic sites - the GP head domain, the glycan cap, and the base region, with a high prevalence of neutralizing and protective mAb specificities that targeted the base and glycan cap regions on the GP. Polyclonal plasma antibodies from the survivor reacted broadly to EBOV, BDBV, and SUDV GP, while reactivity of the potently neutralizing mAbs we identified was limited mostly to the homologous EBOV GP. Together these results reveal a restricted diversity of neutralizing humoral response in which mAbs targeting two antigenic sites on GP – glycan cap and base – play a principal role in plasma-antibody-mediated protective immunity against EVD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number706757
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Jul 16 2021


  • convalescent plasma
  • ebolavirus
  • ebolavirus infection
  • epitope mapping
  • glycoprotein
  • neutralizing antibodies
  • proteo-genomics
  • viral antibodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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