An interactive database for the investigation of high-density peptide microarray guided interaction patterns and antivenom cross-reactivity
Snakebite envenoming is a major neglected tropical disease that affects millions of people every year. The only effective treatment against snakebite envenoming consists of unspecified cocktails of polyclonal antibodies purified from the plasma of immunized production animals. Currently, little data exists on the molecular interactions between venom toxin epitopes and antivenom antibody paratopes. To address this issue, high-density peptide microarray (hdpm) technology has recently been adapted to the field of toxinology. However, analysis of such valuable datasets requires expert understanding and, thus, complicates its broad application within the field. In the present study, we developed a user-friendly, and high-throughput web application named “Snake Toxin and Antivenom Binding Profiles” (STAB Profiles), to allow straight-forward analysis of hdpm datasets. To test our tool and evaluate its performance with a large dataset, we conducted hdpm assays using all African snake toxin protein sequences available in the UniProt database at the time of study design, together with eight commercial antivenoms in clinical use in Africa, thus representing the largest venom-antivenom dataset to date. Furthermore, we introduced a novel method for evaluating raw signals from a peptide microarray experiment and a data normalization protocol enabling intra-microarray and even inter-microarray chip comparisons. Finally, these data, alongside all the data from previous similar studies by Engmark et al., were preprocessed according to our newly developed protocol and made publicly available for download through the STAB Profiles web application (http://tropicalpharmacology.com/tools/stab-profiles/). With these data and our tool, we were able to gain key insights into toxin-antivenom interactions and were able to differentiate the ability of different antivenoms to interact with certain toxins of interest. The data, as well as the web application, we present in this article should be of significant value to the venom-antivenom research community. Knowledge gained from our current and future analyses of this dataset carry the potential to guide the improvement and optimization of current antivenoms for maximum patient benefit, as well as aid the development of next generation antivenoms.