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Link:  Pharm/Biotech Resources

Title:  Monoclonal antibodies to Sarcocystis neurona and uses therefor

United States Patent:  6,891,024

Issued:  May 10, 2005

Inventors:  Marsh; Antoinette (Columbia, MO)

Assignee:  The Curators of the University of Missouri (Columbia, MO)

Appl. No.:  140754

Filed:  May 7, 2002


The present invention is directed to particular monoclonal antibodies that find use in the identification and purification of Sarcocystis neurona and related antigens. In particular, these antibodies permit the diagnosis of Sarcocystis related diseases such as equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM).

Description of the Invention


1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the fields of microbiology, immunology and pathology. More particularly, it concerns the development of particular monoclonal antibodies for use in the diagnosis and therapy of disease caused by Sarcocystis neurona infections.

2. Description of Related Art

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a widespread neurological disease in horses. Similar syndromes have been recognized in other species, such as marine mammals. It is progressive and in advanced stages, the horse will suffer from spinal cord and brain stem damage resulting in ataxia of the limbs and other signs of muscular incoordination, loss of response to certain sensory stimuli and muscle atrophy. In severe cases of recurrent neurological signs that do not respond to therapy, horses must be euthanized, which is very costly to owners.

Most cases of EPM are caused by a protozoan parasite, Sarcocystis neurona. This organism has been identified in other species and has been associated with encephalitis as well. The horse is thought to become infected with this parasite by ingestion of sporocysts shed by the opossum (Didelphis virginiana) or closely related species that are found in the Americas. This would suggest that horses shipped to other parts of the world could develop EPM later; therefore, EPM is not just a disease found in the Americas.

To date, there has been only one group—the inventors—that have disclosed a monoclonal antibody directed Sarcocystis neurona. Marsh et al. (2000). However, this report did not disclose the target for the antibody or how it was made. In addition, the antibody failed to react with certain strains of S. neurona, suggesting limited suitability for use in diagnostic screens. Thus, there clearly remains a need to identify additional antibodies that can be used in both diagnosis and therapy of S. neurona disease.


Thus, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a monoclonal antibody that binds immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen, designated 2A7-18 or 2G5-2. The antibody may comprise a label, for example, a radioisotope, bead, a ligand, a chemilluminescent molecule, a fluorescent molecule, or an enzyme. It may also comprise a therapeutic compound, such as a radioisotope or a chemotherapeutic.

In another embodiment, there is provided a method of identifying a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen in a sample comprising (a) contacting the sample with a monoclonal antibody that binds immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen, designated 2G5-2 or 2A7-18; and (b) determining binding of the monoclonal antibody to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen in the sample, whereby binding of the monoclonal antibody indicates the presence of Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen. The sample may be obtained from a warm-blooded animal, such as a horse, cow, dog, cat, mink, raccoon, skunk, harbor seal, sea otter, mouse, armadillo or human. The sample may be a tissue sample, a fluid sample or a fecal sample. The tissue sample may be from brain, spinal cord, placenta, lung, liver, muscle, connective tissue, vascular endothelium or gastrointestinal tract. The fluid sample may be from blood, serum, plasma, urine, milk, ascites, cerebrospinal fluid or fetal fluid.

The assay format may be a Western blot, a radioimmunoprecipitation, RIA, or an ELISA, including a sandwich ELISA. The method may employ a solid support such as a column, a dipstick, a filter or a microtiter dish. The ELISA may comprise detection of bound 2G5-2 or 2A7-18 using a labeled anti-Ig antibody. The ELISA also may be is a competitive assay. The assay also may involve quantification. The assay may further comprise determining antigenic profile of the Sarcocystis neurona organism.

In yet another embodiment, there is provided a kit comprising at least one a monoclonal antibody that binds immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen, designated 2A7-18 or 2G5-2, in suitable container. The kit may comprise both 2A7-18 and 2G5-2. The antibody may comprise a label, for example, a bead, a radioisotope, a ligand, a chemilluminescent molecule, a fluorescent molecule, or an enzyme.

In still yet another embodiment, there is provided a method of detecting the presence, in a sample, of antibodies that bind immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen, comprising (a) providing a test composition comprising a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen; (b) contacting the test composition with a known amount of a monoclonal antibody that binds immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen, designated 2G5-2 or 2A7-18, the monoclonal antibody comprising a detectable label; (c) contacting the product of step (b) with the sample; and (d) measuring a change in the amount of label associated with the test composition, as compared to the amount observed in step (b), wherein a decrease in the amount of label associated with the test composition indicates the presence of antibodies that bind immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen in the sample. The measuring of change may be quantitative. The label may be an enzyme label, a radiolabel, a chemilluminescent label or a fluorescent label.

In yet a further embodiment, there is provided a method of isolating a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen comprising (a) providing a monoclonal antibody that binds immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen, designated 2G5-2 or 2A7-18; (b) contacting the antibody with a sample containing a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen; and (c) isolating the antibody from the sample, whereby isolation of the antibody also isolates the Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen. The antibody may be bound to a support, for example, a column, a dipstick, a filter or a plate. The antibody also may comprise a label that permits isolation thereof.

The method may further comprise isolating the Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen away from the monoclonal antibody. The monoclonal antibody may further comprise a label that permit isolation of the antibody, such as a bead, a chemilluminescent or fluorescent tag or a ligand. The isolating step may comprise affinity chromatography, fluorescence activated cell sorting, precipitation or centrifugation.

In still yet a further embodiment, there is provided a method of treating a horse for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) comprising (a) obtaining a tissue or fluid sample from the horse; (b) contacting the sample with a monoclonal antibody that binds immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen, the antibody designated 2G5-2 or 2A7-18; (c) determining binding of the monoclonal antibody to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen in the sample; and (d) in the event that a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen is identified in the sample, treating the horse for EPM.


I. The Present Invention

The present invention is directed to the identification of two particular antibodies against Sarcocystis neurona and antigens thereof. This application provides the first enabling disclosure for antibodies to Sarcocystis neurona. In addition is provides for the use of these antibodies, both individually and in combination, in the screening of samples for a Sarcocystis neurona organism, antigen or antibodies. This is particularly important as Sarcocystis neurona is a significant pathogen for horses, where it is the cause of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or "EPM." The details of the invention are provided below.

II. Sarcocystis Neurona and Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM)

Sarcocystis neurona is a coccidian protozoan that exhibits a wide geographic distribution, including North and South America, as well as parts of the Old World. It has a number of hosts including opossum (definitive host), skunks, armadillos, cats (intermediate host) and horses (accidental host). Sites of infection include the intestinal lining (carnivore host), skeletal muscle (intermediate hosts) and brain & spinal cord (horses).

Horses are infected by ingesting infective S. neurona sporocysts. Sarcocystis neurona has an obligate 2-host species life cycle, including the natural intermediate host which is a prey species of some kind, and a definitive host, the opossum. Until recently, S. neurona was considered likely to be S. falcatula, a species of Sarcocystis that utilizes birds of passerine (grackles, cowbirds, starlings), psittacine (budgerigars) or columborid (pigeons) birds as intermediate hosts, but recent research conducted at the University of Florida, the University of California, the University of Missouri and Cornell University has revealed that S. neurona and S. falcatula are not the same species. However, the opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is the definitive host for both species, and is the source of the infective sporocysts to horses. The parasite encysts in the muscle tissue of the intermediate host. When this tissue is eaten by opossums, the organism undergoes sexual reproduction in intestinal epithelium, and forms infective sporocysts contained within an oocyst. Oocysts and sporocysts are found in the intestinal contents but the fragile oocyst is commonly disrupted by the time feces are passed. The intermediate host becomes infected by ingesting sporocysts which presumably contaminate the feed or water. Sporozoites emerge from the sporocysts, penetrate the intestines, and become tachyzoites (merozoites), which undergo a series of replicative cycles in the vascular endothelial cells, and possibly white blood cells. The protozoa enter host cells, and become the intracellular stage, the schizont, or meront. This schizont is a "mother cell" that divides asexually into many tachyzoite offspring.

In the natural intermediate hosts, later generations of tachyzoites migrate to muscle, and encyst in myocytes, forming sarcocysts. These later generations of tachyzoites develop into a slowly dividing stage, called bradyzoites. Bradyzoites divide slowly over the course of the host's lifetime. Some species of Sarcocystis cause myositis in the intermediate host (e.g., eosinophilic myositis caused by S. cruzi in cattle) while others evade the host immune system, and remain asymptomatic (e.g., S. fayeri in horses is rarely associated with myositis). When the natural intermediate host is killed, or dies and is eaten, these cysts are activated in the gastrointestinal tract of the definitive host, and the cycle starts again. Most Sarcocystis spp. are found encysted in the muscle tissue of the intermediate host, but some Sarcocystis spp., as well as the closely related protozoa, Toxoplasma gondii, have been found in cysts in the central nervous system.

Horses are an aberrant intermediate host of S. neurona. Sporocysts are eaten, pass into the small intestines and excyst in the horse. From there, the infective stage of the organism, the sporozoites, enter the horse's blood stream. In some horses, they undergo several replicative cycles in endothelial cells (in blood vessels), becoming tachyzoites, and migrate to the central nervous system. They replicate asexually within neurons and microglial cells, without forming tissue cysts. In the central nervous system of the horse, they slowly divide and grow, gradually destroying the nervous tissue, causing incoordination and the other clinical signs that result from EPM. The stage of the organism found horses cannot be transmitted to other horses. Because the organism does not encyst in the tissues, it cannot be transmitted to opossums, even if the opossum were to eat the tissue. Therefore, the horse is a dead end host for the protozoan.

Diagnosis is limited, relying on unexplained neurologic symptoms, and testing spinal fluid for antibodies. Treatment recommendations vary; however, the trends if toward: (a) trimethoprim-sulfadiazine, 15-25 mg/kg of body weight, orally, every 12 hours for at least 12 weeks; (b) pyrimethamine (Daraprim), 1.0 mg/kg orally, every 24 hours for at least 12 weeks; (c) rest and minimizing of stress; and (d) anti-inflammatories. While most horses respond to treatment, few make a complete recovery.

III. Producing Monoclonal Antibodies

It will be understood that monoclonal antibodies binding to S. neurona and related proteins will have utilities in several applications. These include the production of diagnostic kits for use in detecting and diagnosing disease. In these contexts, one may to link such antibodies to diagnostic or therapeutic agents, or use them as capture agents or competitors in competitive assays. Means for preparing and characterizing antibodies are well known in the art (see, e.g., Antibodies: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1988; U.S. Pat. No. 4,196,265).

The methods for generating monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) generally begin along the same lines as those for preparing polyclonal antibodies. The first step for both these methods is immunization of an appropriate host. As is well known in the art, a given composition may vary in its immunogenicity. It is often necessary therefore to boost the host immune system, as may be achieved by coupling a peptide or polypeptide immunogen to a carrier. Exemplary and preferred carriers are keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and bovine serum albumin (BSA). Other albumins such as ovalbumin, mouse serum albumin or rabbit serum albumin can also be used as carriers. Means for conjugating a polypeptide to a carrier protein are well known in the art and include glutaraldehyde, m-maleimidobencoyl-N-hydroxysuccinimide ester, carbodiimyde and bis-biazotized benzidine.

As also is well known in the art, the immunogenicity of a particular immunogen composition can be enhanced by the use of non-specific stimulators of the immune response, known as adjuvants. Exemplary and preferred adjuvants include complete Freund's adjuvant (a non-specific stimulator of the immune response containing killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis), incomplete Freund's adjuvants and aluminum hydroxide adjuvant.

The amount of immunogen composition used in the production of polyclonal antibodies varies upon the nature of the immunogen as well as the animal used for immunization. A variety of routes can be used to administer the immunogen (subcutaneous, intramuscular, intradermal, intravenous and intraperitoneal). The production of polyclonal antibodies may be monitored by sampling blood of the immunized animal at various points following immunization.

A second, booster injection, also may be given. The process of boosting and titering is repeated until a suitable titer is achieved. When a desired level of immunogenicity is obtained, the immunized animal can be bled and the serum isolated and stored, and/or the animal can be used to generate MAbs.

Following immunization, somatic cells with the potential for producing antibodies, specifically B lymphocytes (B cells), are selected for use in the MAb generating protocol. These cells may be obtained from biopsied spleens or lymph nodes. Spleen cells and lymph node cells are preferred, the former because they are a rich source of antibody-producing cells that are in the dividing plasmablast stage. Often, a panel of animals will have been immunized and the spleen of animal with the highest antibody titer will be removed and the spleen lymphocytes obtained by homogenizing the spleen with a syringe. Typically, a spleen from an immunized mouse contains approximately 5×107 to 2×108 lymphocytes.

The antibody-producing B lymphocytes from the immunized animal are then fused with cells of an immortal myeloma cell, generally one of the same species as the animal that was immunized. Myeloma cell lines suited for use in hybridoma-producing fusion procedures preferably are non-antibody-producing, have high fusion efficiency, and enzyme deficiencies that render then incapable of growing in certain selective media which support the growth of only the desired fused cells (hybridomas).

Any one of a number of myeloma cells may be used, as are known to those of skill in the art (Goding, pp. 65-66, 1986; Campbell, pp. 75-83, 1984). For example, where the immunized animal is a mouse, one may use P3-X63/Ag8, X63-Ag8.653, NS1/1.Ag 4 1, Sp210-Ag14, FO, NSO/U, MPC,-11, MPC11-X45-GTG 1.7 and S194/5XXO Bul; for rats, one may use R210.RCY3, Y3-Ag 1.2.3, IR983F and 4B210; and U-266, GM1500-GRG2, LICR-LON-HMy2 and UC729-6 are all useful in connection with human cell fusions.

One preferred murine myeloma cell is the NS-1 myeloma cell line (also termed P3-NS-1-Ag4-1), which is readily available from the NIGMS Human Genetic Mutant Cell Repository by requesting cell line repository number GM3573. Another mouse myeloma cell line that may be used is the 8-azaguanine-resistant mouse murine myeloma SP2/0 non-producer cell line.

Methods for generating hybrids of antibody-producing spleen or lymph node cells and myeloma cells usually comprise mixing somatic cells with myeloma cells in a 2:1 proportion, though the proportion may vary from about 20:1 to about 1:1, respectively, in the presence of an agent or agents (chemical or electrical) that promote the fusion of cell membranes. Fusion methods using Sendai virus have been described by Kohler and Milstein (1975; 1976), and those using polyethylene glycol (PEG), such as 37% (v/v) PEG, by Gefter et al. (1977). The use of electrically induced fusion methods also is appropriate (Goding, pp. 71-74, 1986).

Fusion procedures usually produce viable hybrids at low frequencies, about 1×10-6 to 1×10-8. However, this does not pose a problem, as the viable, fused hybrids are differentiated from the parental, infused cells (particularly the infused myeloma cells that would normally continue to divide indefinitely) by culturing in a selective medium. The selective medium is generally one that contains an agent that blocks the de novo synthesis of nucleotides in the tissue culture media. Exemplary and preferred agents are aminopterin, methotrexate, and azaserine. Aminopterin and methotrexate block de novo synthesis of both purines and pyrimidines, whereas azaserine blocks only purine synthesis. Where aminopterin or methotrexate is used, the media is supplemented with hypoxanthine and thymidine as a source of nucleotides (HAT medium). Where azaserine is used, the media is supplemented with hypoxanthine.

The preferred selection medium is HAT. Only cells capable of operating nucleotide salvage pathways are able to survive in HAT medium. The myeloma cells are defective in key enzymes of the salvage pathway, e.g., hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT), and they cannot survive. The B cells can operate this pathway, but they have a limited life span in culture and generally die within about two weeks. Therefore, the only cells that can survive in the selective media are those hybrids formed from myeloma and B cells.

This culturing provides a population of hybridomas from which specific hybridomas are selected. Typically, selection of hybridomas is performed by culturing the cells by single-clone dilution in microtiter plates, followed by testing the individual clonal supernatants (after about two to three weeks) for the desired reactivity. The assay should be sensitive, simple and rapid, such as radioimmunoassays, enzyme immunoassays, cytotoxicity assays, plaque assays, dot immunobinding assays, and the like.

The selected hybridomas are then serially diluted and cloned into individual antibody-producing cell lines, which clones can then be propagated indefinitely to provide MAbs. The cell lines may be exploited for MAb production in two basic ways. A sample of the hybridoma can be injected (often into the peritoneal cavity) into a histocompatible animal of the type that was used to provide the somatic and myeloma cells for the original fusion (e.g., a syngeneic mouse). Optionally, the animals are primed with a hydrocarbon, especially oils such as pristane (tetramethylpentadecane) prior to injection. The injected animal develops tumors secreting the specific monoclonal antibody produced by the fused cell hybrid. The body fluids of the animal, such as serum or ascites fluid, can then be tapped to provide MAbs in high concentration. The individual cell lines could also be cultured in vitro, where the MAbs are naturally secreted into the culture medium from which they can be readily obtained in high concentrations.

MAbs produced by either means may be further purified, if desired, using filtration, centrifugation and various chromatographic methods such as HPLC or affinity chromatography. Fragments of the monoclonal antibodies of the invention can be obtained from the purified monoclonal antibodies by methods which include digestion with enzymes, such as pepsin or papain, and/or by cleavage of disulfide bonds by chemical reduction. Alternatively, monoclonal antibody fragments encompassed by the present invention can be synthesized using an automated peptide synthesizer.

It also is contemplated that a molecular cloning approach may be used to generate monoclonals. For this, combinatorial immunoglobulin phagemid libraries are prepared from RNA isolated from the spleen of the immunized animal, and phagemids expressing appropriate antibodies are selected by panning using cells expressing the antigen and control cells e.g., normal-versus-tumor cells. The advantages of this approach over conventional hybridoma techniques are that approximately 104 times as many antibodies can be produced and screened in a single round, and that new specificities are generated by H and L chain combination which further increases the chance of finding appropriate antibodies.

Other U.S. patents, each incorporated herein by reference, that teach the production of antibodies useful in the present invention include U.S. Pat. No. 5,565,332, which describes the production of chimeric antibodies using a combinatorial approach; U.S. Pat. No. 4,816,567 which describes recombinant immunoglobin preparations; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,867,973 which describes antibody-therapeutic agent conjugates.

IV. Antibody Conjugates

Antibodies of the present invention may be linked to at least one agent to form an antibody conjugate. In order to increase the efficacy of antibody molecules as diagnostic or therapeutic agents, it is conventional to link or covalently bind or complex at least one desired molecule or moiety. Such a molecule or moiety may be, but is not limited to, at least one effector or reporter molecule. Effector molecules comprise molecules having a desired activity, e.g., cytotoxic activity. Non-limiting examples of effector molecules which have been attached to antibodies include toxins, anti-tumor agents, therapeutic enzymes, radionuclides, antiviral agents, chelating agents, cytokines, growth factors, and oligo- or polynucleotides. By contrast, a reporter molecule is defined as any moiety which may be detected using an assay. Non-limiting examples of reporter molecules which have been conjugated to antibodies include enzymes, radiolabels, haptens, fluorescent labels, phosphorescent molecules, chemilluminescent molecules, chromophores, photoaffinity molecules, colored particles or ligands, such as biotin.

Antibody conjugates are generally preferred for use as diagnostic agents. Antibody diagnostics generally fall within two classes, those for use in in vitro diagnostics, such as in a variety of immunoassays, and those for use in vivo diagnostic protocols, generally known as "antibody-directed imaging." Many appropriate imaging agents are known in the art, as are methods for their attachment to antibodies (see, for e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,021,236, 4,938,948, and 4,472,509). The imaging moieties used can be paramagnetic ions, radioactive isotopes, fluorochromes, NMR-detectable substances, and X-ray imaging agents.

In the case of paramagnetic ions, one might mention by way of example ions such as chromium (III), manganese (II), iron (III), iron (II), cobalt (II), nickel (II), copper (II), neodymium (III), samarium (III), ytterbium (III), gadolinium (III), vanadium (II), terbium (III), dysprosium (III), holmium (III) and/or erbium (III), with gadolinium being particularly preferred. Ions useful in other contexts, such as X-ray imaging, include but are not limited to lanthanum (III), gold (III), lead (II), and especially bismuth (III).

In the case of radioactive isotopes for therapeutic and/or diagnostic application, one might mention astatine211, 14carbon, 51chromium, 36chlorine, 57cobalt, 58cobalt, copper67, 152Eu, gallium67, 3hydrogen, iodine123, iodine125, iodine131, indium111, 59iron, =phosphorus, rhenium186, rhenium188, 75selenium, 35sulphur, technicium99m and/or yttrium90. 125I is often being preferred for use in certain embodiments, and technicium99m and/or indium111 are also often preferred due to their low energy and suitability for long range detection. Radioactively labeled monoclonal antibodies of the present invention may be produced according to well-known methods in the art. For instance, monoclonal antibodies can be iodinated by contact with sodium and/or potassium iodide and a chemical oxidizing agent such as sodium hypochlorite, or an enzymatic oxidizing agent, such as lactoperoxidase. Monoclonal antibodies according to the invention may be labeled with technetium99m by ligand exchange process, for example, by reducing pertechnate with stannous solution, chelating the reduced technetium onto a Sephadex column and applying the antibody to this column. Alternatively, direct labeling techniques may be used, e.g., by incubating pertechnate, a reducing agent such as SNCl2, a buffer solution such as sodium-potassium phthalate solution, and the antibody. Intermediary functional groups which are often used to bind radioisotopes which exist as metallic ions to antibody are diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) or ethylene diaminetetracetic acid (EDTA).

Among the fluorescent labels contemplated for use as conjugates include Alexa 350, Alexa 430, AMCA, BODIPY 630/650, BODIPY 650/665, BODIPY-FL, BODIPY-R6G, BODIPY-TMR, BODIPY-TRX, Cascade Blue, Cy3, Cy5,6-FAM, Fluorescein Isothiocyanate, HEX, 6-JOE, Oregon Green 488, Oregon Green 500, Oregon Green 514, Pacific Blue, REG, Rhodamine Green, Rhodamine Red, Renographin, ROX, TAMRA, TET, Tetramethylrhodamine, and/or Texas Red.

Another type of antibody conjugates contemplated in the present invention are those intended primarily for use in vitro, where the antibody is linked to a secondary binding ligand and/or to an enzyme (an enzyme tag) that will generate a colored product upon contact with a chromogenic substrate. Examples of suitable enzymes include urease, alkaline phosphatase, (horseradish) hydrogen peroxidase or glucose oxidase. Preferred secondary binding ligands are biotin and avidin and streptavidin compounds. The use of such labels is well known to those of skill in the art and are described, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,817,837, 3,850,752, 3,939,350, 3,996,345, 4,277,437, 4,275,149 and 4,366,241.

Yet another known method of site-specific attachment of molecules to antibodies comprises the reaction of antibodies with hapten-based affinity labels. Essentially, hapten-based affinity labels react with amino acids in the antigen binding site, thereby destroying this site and blocking specific antigen reaction. However, this may not be advantageous since it results in loss of antigen binding by the antibody conjugate.

Molecules containing azido groups may also be used to form covalent bonds to proteins through reactive nitrene intermediates that are generated by low intensity ultraviolet light (Potter and Haley, 1983). In particular, 2- and 8-azido analogues of purine nucleotides have been used as site-directed photoprobes to identify nucleotide binding proteins in crude cell extracts (Owens & Haley, 1987; Atherton et al., 1985). The 2- and 8-azido nucleotides have also been used to map nucleotide binding domains of purified proteins (Khatoon et al., 1989; King et al, 1989; Dholakia et al., 1989) and may be used as antibody binding agents.

Several methods are known in the art for the attachment or conjugation of an antibody to its conjugate moiety. Some attachment methods involve the use of a metal chelate complex employing, for example, an organic chelating agent such a diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid anhydride (DTPA); ethylenetriaminetetraacetic acid; N-chloro-p-toluenesulfonamide; and/or tetrachloro-3α-6α-diphenylglycouril-3 attached to the antibody (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,472,509 and 4,938,948). Monoclonal antibodies may also be reacted with an enzyme in the presence of a coupling agent such as glutaraldehyde or periodate. Conjugates with fluorescein markers are prepared in the presence of these coupling agents or by reaction with an isothiocyanate. In U.S. Pat. No. 4,938,948, imaging of breast tumors is achieved using monoclonal antibodies and the detectable imaging moieties are bound to the antibody using linkers such as methyl-p-hydroxybenzimidate or N-succinimidyl-3-(4-hydroxyphenyl)propionate.

In other embodiments, derivatization of immunoglobulins by selectively introducing sulfhydryl groups in the Fe region of an immunoglobulin, using reaction conditions that do not alter the antibody combining site are contemplated. Antibody conjugates produced according to this methodology are disclosed to exhibit improved longevity, specificity and sensitivity (U.S. Pat. No. 5,196,066, incorporated herein by reference). Site-specific attachment of effector or reporter molecules, wherein the reporter or effector molecule is conjugated to a carbohydrate residue in the Fe region have also been disclosed in the literature (O'Shannessy et al., 1987). This approach has been reported to produce diagnostically and therapeutically promising antibodies which are currently in clinical evaluation.

V. Immunodetection Methods

In still further embodiments, the present invention concerns immunodetection methods for binding, purifying, removing, quantifying and otherwise generally detecting Sarcocystis neurona and its associated antigens. Some immunodetection methods include enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), radioimmunoassay (RIA), immunoradiometric assay, fluoroimmunoassay, chemiluminescent assay, bioluminescent assay, and Western blot to mention a few. In particular, a competitive assay for the detection and quantitation of S. neurona antibodies directed to specific parasite epitopes in samples also is provided. The steps of various useful immunodetection methods have been described in the scientific literature, such as, e.g., Doolittle and Ben-Zeev (1999), Gulbis and Galand (1993), De Jager et al. (1993), and Nakamura et al. (1987). In general, the immunobinding methods include obtaining a sample suspected of containing S. neurona, and contacting the sample with a first antibody in accordance with the present invention, as the case may be, under conditions effective to allow the formation of immunocomplexes.

These methods include methods for purifying S. neurona or related antigens from a sample. The antibody will preferably be linked to a solid support, such as in the form of a column matrix, and the sample suspected of containing the S. neurona or antigenic component will be applied to the immobilized antibody. The unwanted components will be washed from the column, leaving the S. neurona antigen immunocomplexed to the immobilized antibody, which is then collected by removing the organism or antigen from the column.

The immunobinding methods also include methods for detecting and quantifying the amount of S. neurona or related components in a sample and the detection and quantification of any immune complexes formed during the binding process. Here, one would obtain a sample suspected of containing S. neurona or its antigens, and contact the sample with an antibody that binds S. neurona or components thereof, followed by detecting and quantifying the amount of immune complexes formed under the specific conditions. In terms of antigen detection, the biological sample analyzed may be any sample that is suspected of containing S. neurona or S. neurona antigen, such as a tissue section or specimen, a homogenized tissue extract, a biological fluid, including blood and serum, or a secretion, such as feces or urine.

Contacting the chosen biological sample with the antibody under effective conditions and for a period of time sufficient to allow the formation of immune complexes (primary immune complexes) is generally a matter of simply adding the antibody composition to the sample and incubating the mixture for a period of time long enough for the antibodies to form immune complexes with, i.e., to bind to S. neurona or antigens present. After this time, the sample-antibody antibody composition, such as a tissue section, ELISA plate, dot blot or Western blot, will generally be washed to remove any non-specifically bound antibody species, allowing only those antibodies specifically bound within the primary immune complexes to be detected.

In general, the detection of immunocomplex formation is well known in the art and may be achieved through the application of numerous approaches. These methods are generally based upon the detection of a label or marker, such as any of those radioactive, fluorescent, biological and enzymatic tags. Patents concerning the use of such labels include U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,817,837, 3,850,752, 3,939,350, 3,996,345, 4,277,437, 4,275,149 and 4,366,241. Of course, one may find additional advantages through the use of a secondary binding ligand such as a second antibody and/or a biotin/avidin ligand binding arrangement, as is known in the art.

The antibody employed in the detection may itself be linked to a detectable label, wherein one would then simply detect this label, thereby allowing the amount of the primary immune complexes in the composition to be determined. Alternatively, the first antibody that becomes bound within the primary immune complexes may be detected by means of a second binding ligand that has binding affinity for the antibody. In these cases, the second binding ligand may be linked to a detectable label. The second binding ligand is itself often an antibody, which may thus be termed a "secondary" antibody. The primary immune complexes are contacted with the labeled, secondary binding ligand, or antibody, under effective conditions and for a period of time sufficient to allow the formation of secondary immune complexes. The secondary immune complexes are then generally washed to remove any non-specifically bound labeled secondary antibodies or ligands, and the remaining label in the secondary immune complexes is then detected.

Further methods include the detection of primary immune complexes by a two step approach. A second binding ligand, such as an antibody that has binding affinity for the antibody, is used to form secondary immune complexes, as described above. After washing, the secondary immune complexes are contacted with a third binding ligand or antibody that has binding affinity for the second antibody, again under effective conditions and for a period of time sufficient to allow the formation of immune complexes (tertiary immune complexes). The third ligand or antibody is linked to a detectable label, allowing detection of the tertiary immune complexes thus formed. This system may provide for signal amplification if this is desired.

One method of immunodetection uses two different antibodies. A first biotinylated antibody is used to detect the target antigen, and a second antibody is then used to detect the biotin attached to the complexed biotin. In that method, the sample to be tested is first incubated in a solution containing the first step antibody. If the target antigen is present, some of the antibody binds to the antigen to form a biotinylated antibody/antigen complex. The antibody/antigen complex is then amplified by incubation in successive solutions of streptavidin (or avidin), biotinylated DNA, and/or complementary biotinylated DNA, with each step adding additional biotin sites to the antibody/antigen complex. The amplification steps are repeated until a suitable level of amplification is achieved, at which point the sample is incubated in a solution containing the second step antibody against biotin. This second step antibody is labeled, as for example with an enzyme that can be used to detect the presence of the antibody/antigen complex by histoenzymology using a chromogen substrate. With suitable amplification, a conjugate can be produced which is macroscopically visible.

Another known method of immunodetection takes advantage of the immuno-PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) methodology. The PCR method is similar to the Cantor method up to the incubation with biotinylated DNA, however, instead of using multiple rounds of streptavidin and biotinylated DNA incubation, the DNA/biotin/streptavidin/antibody complex is washed out with a low pH or high salt buffer that releases the antibody. The resulting wash solution is then used to carry out a PCR reaction with suitable primers with appropriate controls. At least in theory, the enormous amplification capability and specificity of PCR can be utilized to detect a single antigen molecule.


Immunoassays, in their most simple and direct sense, are binding assays. Certain preferred immunoassays are the various types of enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) and radioimmunoassays (RIA) known in the art. Immunohistochemical detection using tissue sections is also particularly useful. However, it will be readily appreciated that detection is not limited to such techniques, and western blotting, dot blotting, FACS analyses, and the like may also be used.

In one exemplary ELISA, the antibodies of the invention are immobilized onto a selected surface exhibiting protein affinity, such as a well in a polystyrene microtiter plate. Then, a test composition suspected of containing the S. neurona or S. neurona antigen is added to the wells. After binding and washing to remove non-specifically bound immune complexes, the bound antigen may be detected. Detection may be achieved by the addition of another anti-S. neurona antibody that is linked to a detectable label. This type of ELISA is a simple "sandwich ELISA." Detection may also be achieved by the addition of a second anti-S. neurona antibody, followed by the addition of a third antibody that has binding affinity for the second antibody, with the third antibody being linked to a detectable label.

In another exemplary ELISA, the samples suspected of containing the S. neurona or S. neurona antigen are immobilized onto the well surface and then contacted with the anti-S. neurona antibodies of the invention. After binding and washing to remove non-specifically bound immune complexes, the bound anti-S. neurona antibodies are detected. Where the initial anti-S. neurona antibodies are linked to a detectable label, the immune complexes may be detected directly. Again, the immune complexes may be detected using a second antibody that has binding affinity for the first anti-S. neurona antibody, with the second antibody being linked to a detectable label.

Irrespective of the format employed, ELISAs have certain features in common, such as coating, incubating and binding, washing to remove non-specifically bound species, and detecting the bound immune complexes. These are described below.

In coating a plate with either antigen or antibody, one will generally incubate the wells of the plate with a solution of the antigen or antibody, either overnight or for a specified period of hours. The wells of the plate will then be washed to remove incompletely adsorbed material. Any remaining available surfaces of the wells are then "coated" with a nonspecific protein that is antigenically neutral with regard to the test antisera. These include bovine serum albumin (BSA), casein or solutions of milk powder. The coating allows for blocking of nonspecific adsorption sites on the immobilizing surface and thus reduces the background caused by nonspecific binding of antisera onto the surface.

In ELISAs, it is probably more customary to use a secondary or tertiary detection means rather than a direct procedure. Thus, after binding of a protein or antibody to the well, coating with a non-reactive material to reduce background, and washing to remove unbound material, the immobilizing surface is contacted with the biological sample to be tested under conditions effective to allow immune complex (antigen/antibody) formation. Detection of the immune complex then requires a labeled secondary binding ligand or antibody, and a secondary binding ligand or antibody in conjunction with a labeled tertiary antibody or a third binding ligand.

"Under conditions effective to allow immune complex (antigen/antibody) formation" means that the conditions preferably include diluting the antigens and/or antibodies with solutions such as BSA, bovine gamma globulin (BGG) or phosphate buffered saline (PBS)/Tween. These added agents also tend to assist in the reduction of nonspecific background.

The "suitable" conditions also mean that the incubation is at a temperature or for a period of time sufficient to allow effective binding. Incubation steps are typically from about 1 to 2 to 4 hours or so, at temperatures preferably on the order of 25° C. to 27° C., or may be overnight at about 4° C. or so.

Following all incubation steps in an ELISA, the contacted surface is washed so as to remove non-complexed material. A preferred washing procedure includes washing with a solution such as PBS/Tween, or borate buffer. Following the formation of specific immune complexes between the test sample and the originally bound material, and subsequent washing, the occurrence of even minute amounts of immune complexes may be determined.

To provide a detecting means, the second or third antibody will have an associated label to allow detection. Preferably, this will be an enzyme that will generate color development upon incubating with an appropriate chromogenic substrate. Thus, for example, one will desire to contact or incubate the first and second immune complex with a urease, glucose oxidase, alkaline phosphatase or hydrogen peroxidase-conjugated antibody for a period of time and under conditions that favor the development of further immune complex formation (e.g., incubation for 2 hours at room temperature in a PBS-containing solution such as PBS-Tween).

After incubation with the labeled antibody, and subsequent to washing to remove unbound material, the amount of label is quantified, e.g., by incubation with a chromogenic substrate such as urea, or bromocresol purple, or 2,2′-azino-di-(3-ethyl-benzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid (ABTS), or H2O2, in the case of peroxidase as the enzyme label. Quantification is then achieved by measuring the degree of color generated, e.g., using a visible spectra spectrophotometer.

In another embodiment, the present invention contemplates the use of competitive formats. This is particularly useful in the detection of S. neurona antibodies in sample. In competition based assays, an unknown amount of analyte or antibody is determined by its ability to displace a known amount of labeled antibody or analyte. Thus, the quantifiable loss of a signal is an indication of the amount of unknown antibody or analyte in a sample.

Here, the inventor proposes the use of labeled S. neurona monoclonal antibodies to determine the amount of S. neurona antibodies in a sample. The basic format would include contacting a known amount of S. neurona monoclonal antibody (linked to a detectable label) with S. neurona antigen or organism. The S. neurona antigen or organism is preferably attached to a support. After binding of the labeled monoclonal antibody to the support, the sample is added and incubated under conditions permitting any unlabeled antibody in the sample to compete with, and hence displace, the labeled monoclonal antibody. By measuring either the lost label or the label remaining (and subtracting that from the original amount of bound label), one can determine how much non-labeled antibody is bound to the support, and thus how much antibody was present in the sample.

2. Immunohistochemistry

The antibodies of the present invention may also be used in conjunction with both fresh-frozen and/or formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue blocks prepared. for study by immunohistochemistry (IHC). The method of preparing tissue blocks from these particulate specimens has been successfully used in previous IHC studies of various prognostic factors, and is well known to those of skill in the art (Brown et al., 1990; Abbondanzo et al., 1990; Allred et al., 1990).

Briefly, frozen-sections may be prepared by rehydrating 50 ng of frozen "pulverized" tissue at room temperature in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) in small plastic capsules; pelleting the particles by centrifugation; resuspending them in a viscous embedding medium (OCT); inverting the capsule and/or pelleting again by centrifugation; snap-freezing in -70° C. isopentane; cutting the plastic capsule and/or removing the frozen cylinder of tissue; securing the tissue cylinder on a cryostat microtome chuck; and/or cutting 25-50 serial sections from the capsule. Alternatively, whole frozen tissue samples may be used for serial section cuttings.

Permanent-sections may be prepared by a similar method involving rehydration of the 50 mg sample in a plastic microfuge tube; pelleting; resuspending in 10% formalin for 4 hours fixation; washing/pelleting; resuspending in warm 2.5% agar; pelleting; cooling in ice water to harden the agar; removing the tissue/agar block from the tube; infiltrating and/or embedding the block in paraffin; and/or cutting up to 50 serial permanent sections. Again, whole tissue samples may be substituted.

3. Immunodetection Kits

In still further embodiments, the present invention concerns immunodetection kits for use with the immunodetection methods described above. As the S. neurona antibodies are generally used to detect S. neurona or S. neurona antigens, the antibodies will be included in the kit. The immunodetection kits will thus comprise, in suitable container means, a first antibody that binds to S. neurona or S. neurona antigen, and optionally an immunodetection reagent.

In certain embodiments, the S. neurona antibody may be pre-bound to a solid support, such as a column matrix and/or well of a microtitre plate. The immunodetection reagents of the kit may take any one of a variety of forms, including those detectable labels that are associated with or linked to the given antibody. Detectable labels that are associated with or attached to a secondary binding ligand are also contemplated. Exemplary secondary ligands are those secondary antibodies that have binding affinity for the first antibody.

Further suitable immunodetection reagents for use in the present kits include the two-component reagent that comprises a secondary antibody that has binding affinity for the first antibody, along with a third antibody that has binding affinity for the second antibody, the third antibody being linked to a detectable label. As noted above, a number of exemplary labels are known in the art and all such labels may be employed in connection with the present invention.

The kits may further comprise a suitably aliquoted composition of the S. neurona or S. neurona antigens, whether labeled or unlabeled, as may be used to prepare a standard curve for a detection assay. The kits may contain antibody-label conjugates either in fully conjugated form, in the form of intermediates, or as separate moieties to be conjugated by the user of the kit. The components of the kits may be packaged either in aqueous media or in lyophilized form.

The container means of the kits will generally include at least one vial, test tube, flask, bottle, syringe or other container means, into which the antibody may be placed, or preferably, suitably aliquoted. The kits of the present invention will also typically include a means for containing the antibody, antigen, and any other reagent containers in close confinement for commercial sale. Such containers may include injection or blow-molded plastic containers into which the desired vials are retained.

Claim 1 of 11 Claims

1. A monoclonal antibody that binds immunologically to a Sarcocystis neurona organism or antigen, designated 2A7-18, deposited with the ATCC as PTA-3418, or 2G5-2, deposited with the ATCC as PTA-3419.

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