BK polyomavirus (BKV or BKPyV) associated nephropathy affects up to 10% of kidney transplant recipients (KTRs). BKV isolates are categorized into four genotypes. It is currently unclear whether the four genotypes are also serotypes. To address this issue, we developed high-throughput serological assays based on antibody-mediated neutralization of BKV genotype I and IV reporter vectors (pseudoviruses). Neutralization-based testing of sera from mice immunized with BKV-I or BKV-IV virus-like particles (VLPs) or sera from naturally infected human subjects revealed that BKV-I specific serum antibodies are poorly neutralizing against BKV-IV and vice versa. The fact that BKV-I and BKV-IV are distinct serotypes was less evident in traditional VLP-based ELISAs. BKV-I and BKV-IV neutralization assays were used to examine BKV type-specific neutralizing antibody responses in KTRs at various time points after transplantation. At study entry, sera from 5% and 49% of KTRs showed no detectable neutralizing activity for BKV-I or BKV-IV neutralization, respectively. By one year after transplantation, all KTRs were neutralization seropositive for BKV-I, and 43% of the initially BKV-IV seronegative subjects showed evidence of acute seroconversion for BKV-IV neutralization. The results suggest a model in which BKV-IV-specific seroconversion reflects a de novo BKV-IV infection in KTRs who initially lack protective antibody responses capable of neutralizing genotype IV BKVs. If this model is correct, it suggests that pre-vaccinating prospective KTRs with a multivalent VLP-based vaccine against all BKV serotypes, or administration of BKV-neutralizing antibodies, might offer protection against graft loss or dysfunction due to BKV associated nephropathy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology