Although divergent dengue viruses (DENVs) have been isolated in insects, nonhuman primates, and humans, their relationships to the four canonical serotypes (DENV 1–4) are poorly understood. One virus isolated from a dengue patient, DKE-121, falls between genotype and serotype levels of sequence divergence to DENV-4. To examine its antigenic relationship to DENV-4, we assessed serum neutralizing and protective activity. Whereas DENV-4-immune mouse sera neutralize DKE-121 infection, DKE-121-immune sera inhibit DENV-4 less efficiently. Passive transfer of DENV-4 or DKE-121-immune sera protects mice against homologous, but not heterologous, DENV-4 or DKE-121 challenge. Antigenic cartography suggests that DENV-4 and DKE-121 are related but antigenically distinct. However, DENV-4 vaccination confers protection against DKE-121 in nonhuman primates, and serum from humans immunized with a tetravalent vaccine neutralize DENV-4 and DKE-121 infection equivalently. As divergent DENV strains, such as DKE-121, may meet criteria for serotype distinction, monitoring their capacity to impact dengue disease and vaccine efficacy appears warranted.
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