Distinct neutralizing antibody correlates of protection among related Zika virus vaccines identify a role for antibody quality

Sonia Maciejewski, Tracy J. Ruckwardt, Kaitlyn M. Morabito, Bryant M. Foreman, Katherine E. Burgomaster, David N. Gordon, Rebecca S. Pelc, Christina R. DeMaso, Sung Youl Ko, Brian E. Fisher, Eun Sung Yang, Deepika Nair, Kathryn E. Foulds, John Paul Todd, Wing Pui Kong, Vicky Roy, Maya Aleshnick, Scott D. Speer, Nigel Bourne, Alan D. BarrettMartha C. Nason, Mario Roederer, Martin R. Gaudinski, Grace L. Chen, Kimberly A. Dowd, Julie E. Ledgerwood, Galit Alter, John R. Mascola, Barney S. Graham, Theodore C. Pierson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas stimulated the development of multiple ZIKV vaccine candidates. We previously developed two related DNA vaccine candidates encoding ZIKV structural proteins that were immunogenic in animal models and humans. We sought to identify neutralizing antibody (NAb) properties induced by each vaccine that correlated with protection in nonhuman primates (NHPs). Despite eliciting equivalent NAb titers in NHPs, these vaccines were not equally protective. The transfer of equivalent titers of vaccine-elicited NAb into AG129 mice also revealed nonequivalent protection, indicating qualitative differences among antibodies (Abs) elicited by these vaccines. Both vaccines elicited Abs with similar binding titers against envelope protein monomers and those incorporated into virus-like particles, as well as a comparable capacity to orchestrate phagocytosis. Functional analysis of vaccine-elicited NAbs from NHPs and humans revealed a capacity to neutralize the structurally mature form of the ZIKV virion that varied in magnitude among vaccine candidates. Conversely, sensitivity to the virion maturation state was not a characteristic of NAbs induced by natural or experimental infection. Passive transfer experiments in mice revealed that neutralization of mature ZIKV virions more accurately predicts protection from ZIKV infection. These findings demonstrate that NAb correlates of protection may differ among vaccine antigens when assayed using standard neutralization platforms and suggest that measurements of Ab quality, including the capacity to neutralize mature virions, will be critical for defining correlates of ZIKV vaccine-induced immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaaw9066
JournalScience Translational Medicine
Issue number547
StatePublished - Jun 10 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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