Detection of MERS-CoV antigen on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded nasal tissue of alpacas by immunohistochemistry using human monoclonal antibodies directed against different epitopes of the spike protein
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) represents an important respiratory disease accompanied by lethal outcome in one third of human patients. In recent years, several investigators developed protective antibodies which could be used as prophylaxis in prospective human epidemics. In the current study, eight human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with neutralizing and non-neutralizing capabilities, directed against different epitopes of the MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) spike (MERS-S) protein, were investigated with regard to their ability to immunohistochemically detect respective epitopes on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) nasal tissue sections of MERS-CoV experimentally infected alpacas. The most intense immunoreaction was detected using a neutralizing antibody directed against the receptor binding domain S1B of the MERS-S protein, which produced an immunosignal in the cytoplasm of ciliated respiratory epithelium and along the apical membranous region. A similar staining was obtained by two other mAbs which recognize the sialic acid-binding domain and the ectodomain of the membrane fusion subunit S2, respectively. Five mAbs lacked immunoreactivity for MERS-CoV antigen on FFPE tissue, even though they belong, at least in part, to the same epitope group. In summary, three tested human mAbs demonstrated capacity for detection of MERS-CoV antigen on FFPE samples and may be implemented in double or triple immunohistochemical methods.