Identification of a Novel Antigen for Serological Diagnosis of Scrub Typhus

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  • 1 Research Center for Bioconvergence Analysis, Korea Basic Science Institute, Cheongju, Republic of Korea;
  • | 2 Center for Convergent Research of Emerging Virus Infection, Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, Daejeon, Republic of Korea;
  • | 3 Department of Bio-Analysis Science, University of Science & Technology, Daejeon, Republic of Korea,
  • | 4 Manufacture Business Division Curebio Ltd, Seoul, Republic of Korea,
  • | 5 Center for Research Equipment, Korea Basic Science Institute, Cheongju, Republic of Korea;
  • | 6 Department of Internal Medicine, Jeonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Republic of Korea;
  • | 7 Biomedical Research Institute of Jeonbuk National University Hospital, Jeonju, Republic of Korea

Scrub typhus is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi, which is widely distributed in northern, southern, and eastern Asia. Early diagnosis is essential because the average case fatality rate is usually >10% but can be as high as 45% if antimicrobial treatment is delayed. Although an O. tsutsugamushi 56-kDa type-specific antigen (TSA) is commonly used for serological diagnosis of scrub typhus, the 56-kDa TSA shows variations among O. tsutsugamushi strains, which may lead to poor diagnostic results. Therefore, the discovery of new antigenic proteins may improve diagnostic accuracy. In this study, we identified an O. tsutsugamushi 27 kDa antigen through an immunoinformatic approach and verified its diagnostic potential using patient samples. Compared with the O. tsutsugamushi 56-kDa antigen, the new 27-kDa antigen showed better diagnostic specificity with similar diagnostic sensitivity. Therefore, the O. tsutsugamushi 27-kDa antigen shows potential as a novel serological diagnostic antigen for scrub typhus, providing higher diagnostic accuracy for O. tsutsugamushi than the 56-kDa antigen.

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Author Notes

Address correspondence to Edmond Changkyun Park or Hye-Yeon Kim, Research Center for Bioconvergence Analysis, Korea Basic Science Institute, Cheongju 28119, Republic of Korea. E-mails: edpark@kbsi.re.kr or hyeyeon@kbsi.re.kr

These authors contributed equally to this work.

Authors’ addresses: Wooyoung Kim, Sang-Yeop Lee, Seung Il Kim, Sun Cheol Park, Hye-Yeon Kim, and Edmond Changkyun Park, Research Center for Bioconvergence Analysis, Korea Basic Science Institute, Cheongju, Republic of Korea, E-mails: kwy91@kbsi.re.kr, yop0214@gmail.com, ksi@kbsi.re.kr, psc1234@kbsi.re.kr, hyeyeon@kbsi.re.kr, and edpark@kbsi.re.kr. In-Kook Sohng, Manufacture Business Division Curebio Ltd, Seoul, Republic of Korea, E-mail: iksohng@gmail.com. Sangmi Jun, Center for Research Equipment, Korea Basic Science Institute, Cheongju, Republic of Korea, E-mail: smjun@kbsi.re.kr. Chang-Seop Lee, Department of Internal Medicine, Chonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju 54986, Republic of Korea, E-mail: lcsmd@jbnu.ac.kr.

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