Readaptation of a low-virulence influenza H9 escape mutant in mice: the role of changes in hemagglutinin as revealed by site-specific mutagenesis.
ABSTRACT: In our earlier studies, we showed that an escape mutant of mouse-adapted H9N2 influenza virus carrying a T198N amino acid change in heamagglutinin (HA) has a lowered virulence for mice. The readaptation of this mutant to mice was associated with N198S or N198D reverse mutations. In this study, single-gene reassortants having HA gene of the wild-type virus, its low-virulence escape mutant, or a readapted variant were generated by site-specific mutagenesis and assayed for virulence. The results showed that antibody-selected mutations in the HA of H9 influenza virus can decrease mortality and virus accumulation in mouse lungs, though not in nasal turbinates, and the effect may be compensated by reverse mutations in the course of passaging.
Project description:Avian influenza viruses continue to evolve and acquire mutations that facilitate antigenic drift and virulence change. In 2017, low-pathogenicity H7N9 avian influenza viruses evolved to a high-pathogenicity phenotype in China. Comparative antigenic analysis of the low- and high-pathogenicity virus strains showed marked variability. In order to identify residues that may be linked to the antigenic change among the H7N9 viruses, we serially passaged the viruses in the presence of homologous ferret antiserum. Progeny viruses able to overcome the neutralizing capacity of the antiserum were sequenced. The analysis showed that the emergent immune escape viruses contained mutations A125T, A151T, and L217Q in the hemagglutinin (HA) glycoprotein as early as passage 5 and that these mutations persisted until passage 10. The results revealed that a single mutation, L217Q, in the HA of H7N9 virus led to 23- and 8-fold reductions in hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titer with ferret and chicken antisera, respectively. Further analysis showed that this change also contributed to antigenic differences between the low- and high-pathogenicity H7N9 viruses, thus playing a major role in their antigenic diversification. Therefore, evolutionary changes at amino acid position 217 in the H7N9 viruses can serve as a genetic marker for virus antigenic diversity during vaccine seed matching and selection. The in vitro immune escape mutant selection method used in this study could also aid in the prediction of emerging antigenic variants in naturally infected or immunized animals.IMPORTANCE Avian influenza H7N9 viruses circulating in poultry and wild birds continue to evolve and acquire important phenotypic changes. Mutations to the virus hemagglutinin (HA) glycoprotein can modulate virus antigenicity and facilitate virus escape from natural or vaccine-induced immunity. The focus of this study was to identify evolutionary markers in the HA of H7N9 that drive escape from antibody-based immunity. To achieve this, we propagated low-pathogenicity H7N9 virus in the presence of polyclonal antiserum derived from ferrets infected with the same strain of virus (homologous antiserum). This selection process was repeated 10 times. The HA gene sequences of viruses recovered after the fifth passage showed that the viruses readily acquired mutations at three different amino acid positions (A125T, A151T, and L217Q). Further functional analysis of these mutations confirmed that the mutation at residue 217 in the HA was responsible for mediating changes to the immunological properties of the H7N9 virus.
Project description:Influenza A virus (IAV), a major cause of human morbidity and mortality, continuously evolves in response to selective pressures. Stem-directed, broadly neutralizing antibodies (sBnAbs) targeting the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) are a promising therapeutic strategy, but neutralization escape mutants can develop. We used an integrated approach combining viral passaging, deep sequencing, and protein structural analyses to define escape mutations and mechanisms of neutralization escape in vitro for the F10 sBnAb. IAV was propagated with escalating concentrations of F10 over serial passages in cultured cells to select for escape mutations. Viral sequence analysis revealed three mutations in HA and one in neuraminidase (NA). Introduction of these specific mutations into IAV through reverse genetics confirmed their roles in resistance to F10. Structural analyses revealed that the selected HA mutations (S123G, N460S, and N203V) are away from the F10 epitope but may indirectly impact influenza virus receptor binding, endosomal fusion, or budding. The NA mutation E329K, which was previously identified to be associated with antibody escape, affects the active site of NA, highlighting the importance of the balance between HA and NA function for viral survival. Thus, whole-genome population sequencing enables the identification of viral resistance mutations responding to antibody-induced selective pressure.IMPORTANCE Influenza A virus is a public health threat for which currently available vaccines are not always effective. Broadly neutralizing antibodies that bind to the highly conserved stem region of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) can neutralize many influenza virus strains. To understand how influenza virus can become resistant or escape such antibodies, we propagated influenza A virus in vitro with escalating concentrations of antibody and analyzed viral populations by whole-genome sequencing. We identified HA mutations near and distal to the antibody binding epitope that conferred resistance to antibody neutralization. Additionally, we identified a neuraminidase (NA) mutation that allowed the virus to grow in the presence of high concentrations of the antibody. Virus carrying dual mutations in HA and NA also grew under high antibody concentrations. We show that NA mutations mediate the escape of neutralization by antibodies against HA, highlighting the importance of a balance between HA and NA for optimal virus function.
Project description:The vestibular system receives a permanent influence from gravity and reflexively controls equilibrium. If we assume gravity has remained constant during the species' evolution, will its sensory system adapt to abrupt loss of that force? We address this question in the land snail Helix lucorum exposed to 30 days of near weightlessness aboard the Bion-M1 satellite, and studied geotactic behavior of postflight snails, differential gene expressions in statocyst transcriptome, and electrophysiological responses of mechanoreceptors to applied tilts. Each approach revealed plastic changes in the snail's vestibular system assumed in response to spaceflight. Absence of light during the mission also affected statocyst physiology, as revealed by comparison to dark-conditioned control groups. Readaptation to normal tilt responses occurred at ~20 h following return to Earth. Despite the permanence of gravity, the snail responded in a compensatory manner to its loss and readapted once gravity was restored.
Project description:Humoral immune responses to influenza virus vaccines in elderly individuals are poorly adapted toward new antigenically drifted influenza virus strains. Instead, older individuals respond in an original antigenic sin fashion and produce much more cross-reactive but less potent antibodies. Here, we investigated four influenza B virus hemagglutinin (HA) head specific, hemagglutination inhibition-inactive monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) from elderly individuals. We found that they were broadly reactive within the B/Victoria/2/1987-like lineage, and two were highly cross-reactive with B/Yamagata/16/1988-like lineage viruses. The MAbs were found to be neutralizing, to utilize Fc effector functions, and to be protective against lethal viral challenge in a mouse model. In order to identify residues on the influenza B virus hemagglutinin interacting with the MAbs, we generated escape mutant viruses. Interestingly, escape from these MAbs led to numerous HA mutations within the head domain, including in the defined antigenic sites. We observed that each individual escape mutant virus was able to avoid neutralization by its respective MAb along with other MAbs in the panel, although in many cases binding activity was maintained. Point mutant viruses indicated that K90 is critical for the neutralization of two MAbs, while escape from the other two MAbs required a combination of mutations in the hemagglutinin. Three of four escape mutant viruses had increased lethality in the DBA2/J mouse model. Our work indicates that these cross-reactive antibodies have the potential to cause antigenic drift in the viral population by driving mutations that increase virus fitness. However, binding activity and cross-neutralization were maintained by a majority of antibodies in the panel, suggesting that this drift may not lead to escape from antibody-mediated protection.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> Understanding the immune response that older individuals mount to influenza virus vaccination and infection is critical in order to design better vaccines for this age group. Here, we show that older individuals make broadly neutralizing antibodies that have no hemagglutination-inhibiting activity and are less potent than strain-specific antibodies. These antibodies could drive viral escape from neutralization but did not result in escape from binding. Given their different mechanisms of action, they might retain protective activity even against escape variants.
Project description:The conserved region of influenza hemagglutinin (HA) stalk (or stem) has gained attention as a potent target for universal influenza vaccines<sup>1-5</sup>. Although the HA stalk region is relatively well conserved, the evolutionarily dynamic nature of influenza viruses<sup>6</sup> raises concerns about the possible emergence of viruses carrying stalk escape mutation(s) under sufficient immune pressure. Here we show that immune pressure on the HA stalk can lead to expansion of escape mutant viruses in study participants challenged with a 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza virus inoculum containing an A388V polymorphism in the HA stalk (45% wild type and 55% mutant). High level of stalk antibody titers was associated with the selection of the mutant virus both in humans and in vitro. Although the mutant virus showed slightly decreased replication in mice, it was not observed in cell culture, ferrets or human challenge participants. The A388V mutation conferred resistance to some of the potent HA stalk broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (bNAbs). Co-culture of wild-type and mutant viruses in the presence of either a bNAb or human serum resulted in rapid expansion of the mutant. These data shed light on a potential obstacle for the success of HA-stalk-targeting universal influenza vaccines-viral escape from vaccine-induced stalk immunity.
Project description:H7N9 avian influenza viruses (AIVs) continue to evolve and remain a huge threat to human health and the poultry industry. Previously, serially passaging the H7N9 A/Anhui/1/2013 virus in the presence of homologous ferret antiserum resulted in immune escape viruses containing amino acid substitutions alanine to threonine at residues 125 (A125T) and 151 (A151T) and leucine to glutamine at residue 217 (L217Q) in the hemagglutinin (HA) protein. These HA mutations have also been found in field isolates in 2019. To investigate the potential threat of serum escape mutant viruses to humans and poultry, the impact of these HA substitutions, either individually or in combination, on receptor binding, pH of fusion, thermal stability, and virus replication were investigated. Our results showed the serum escape mutant formed large plaques in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells and grew robustly in vitro and in ovo They had a lower pH of fusion and increased thermal stability. Of note, the serum escape mutant completely lost the ability to bind to human-like receptor analogues. Further analysis revealed that N-linked glycosylation, as a result of A125T or A151T substitutions in HA, resulted in reduced receptor-binding avidity toward both human and avian-like receptor analogues, and the A125T+A151T mutations completely abolished human-like receptor binding. The L217Q mutation enhanced the H7N9 acid and thermal stability while the A151T mutation dramatically decreased H7N9 HA thermal stability. To conclude, H7N9 AIVs that contain A125T+A151T+L217Q mutations in the HA protein may pose a reduced pandemic risk but remain a heightened threat for poultry.IMPORTANCE Avian influenza H7N9 viruses have been causing disease outbreaks in poultry and humans. We previously determined that propagation of H7N9 virus in virus-specific antiserum gives rise to mutant viruses carrying mutations A125T+A151T+L217Q in their hemagglutinin protein, enabling the virus to overcome vaccine-induced immunity. As predicted, these immune escape mutations were also observed in the field viruses that likely emerged in the immunized or naturally exposed birds. This study demonstrates that the immune escape mutants also (i) gained greater replication ability in cultured cells and in chicken embryos as well as (ii) increased acid and thermal stability but (iii) lost preferences for binding to human-type receptor while maintaining binding for the avian-like receptor. Therefore, they potentially pose reduced pandemic risk. However, the emergent virus variants containing the indicated mutations remain a significant risk to poultry due to antigenic drift and improved fitness for poultry.
Project description:Since the 2017 Southern Hemisphere influenza season, the A(H1N1)pdm09-like virus recommended for use in the vaccine was changed because human, but not ferret, sera distinguish A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses isolated after 2013 from the previously circulating strains. An amino acid substitution, lysine to glutamine, at position 166 (H3 numbering) in the major antigenic site of HA was reported to be responsible for the antigenic drift. Here, we obtained two anti-A(H1N1)pdm09 HA monoclonal antibodies that failed to neutralize viruses isolated after 2013 from a vaccinated volunteer. Escape mutations were identified at position 129, 165, or 166 in the major antigenic site of HA. Competitive growth of the escape mutant viruses with the wild-type virus revealed that some escape mutants possessing an amino acid substitution other than K166Q showed superior growth to that of the wild-type virus. These results suggest that in addition to the K166Q mutation that occurred in epidemic strains, other HA mutations can confer resistance to antibodies that recognize the K166 area, leading to emergence of epidemic strains with such mutations.
Project description:The influenza A virus rapidly mutates to escape from antibodies. Here, we isolated and characterized three human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that neutralize A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses. Generation of escape mutant viruses suggested that these antibodies recognized conserved residues of the receptor-binding site (RBS) of hemagglutinin (HA) and that mutant viruses that escaped from these mAbs rarely appeared. Moreover, the escape mutant viruses grew significantly slower than wild-type virus, indicating their reduced fitness. These results indicate that these three human mAbs against the RBS of HA have the potential to be anti-influenza agents with a low propensity for the development of resistant viruses.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Influenza A virus evolution in humans is driven at least in part by mutations allowing the virus to escape antibody neutralization. Little is known about the evolution of influenza in birds, a major reservoir of influenza A. METHODS: Neutralizing polyclonal antiserum was raised in chicken against reassortant influenza virus, CalX, bearing the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) of A/California/7/2004 [H3N2]. CalX was serially passaged in the presence of anti-CalX polyclonal IgY to derive viruses capable of growth in the presence of antibody. RESULTS: Polyclonal chicken antibody neutralized both HA activity and infection by CalX, but had no effect on a strain bearing an earlier human H3 and an irrelevant neuraminidase (A/Memphis/71-Bellamy/42 [H3N1]). Surprisingly, most of the antibody-resistant viruses were still at least partially sensitive to neutralization of HA activity and viral infection. Although mutant HA genes bearing changes that might affect antibody neutralization were identified, the vast majority of HA sequences obtained were identical to wild type, and no individual mutant sequence was found in more than one passage, suggesting that those mutations that were observed did not confer sufficient selective advantage to come to dominate the population. Different passages yielded infectious foci of varying size and plaques of varying size and morphology. Yields of infectious virus and relative frequency of different morphologies changed markedly from passage to passage. Sequences of bulk, uncloned PCR products from antibody-resistant passages indicated changes in the PB2 and PA proteins with respect to the wild type virus. CONCLUSIONS: Each antibody-selected passage consisted of a variety of different cocirculating populations, rather than pure populations of virus able to escape antibody by changes in antibody epitopes. The ability to escape antibody is apparently due to changes in genes encoding the viral polymerase complex, probably resulting in more robust viral replication, allowing the few virus particles not completely neutralized by antibody to rapidly produce large numbers of progeny. Our data suggest that the relative success of an individual variant may depend on both its own gain and loss of fitness, as well as that of its cocirculating variants.
Project description:Influenza viruses use distinct antibody escape mechanisms depending on the overall complexity of the antibody response that is encountered. When grown in the presence of a hemagglutinin (HA) monoclonal antibody, influenza viruses typically acquire a single HA mutation that reduces the binding of that specific monoclonal antibody. In contrast, when confronted with mixtures of HA monoclonal antibodies or polyclonal sera that have antibodies that bind several HA epitopes, influenza viruses acquire mutations that increase HA binding to host cells. Recent data from our laboratory and others suggest that some humans possess antibodies that are narrowly focused on HA epitopes that were present in influenza virus strains that they were likely exposed to in childhood. Here, we completed a series of experiments to determine if humans with narrowly focused HA antibody responses are able to select for influenza virus antigenic escape variants in ovo We identified three human donors that possessed HA antibody responses that were heavily focused on a single HA antigenic site. Sera from all three of these donors selected single HA escape mutations during in ovo passage experiments, similar to what has been previously reported for single monoclonal antibodies. These single HA mutations directly reduced binding of serum antibodies used for selection. We propose that new antigenic variants of influenza viruses might originate in individuals who produce antibodies that are narrowly focused on HA epitopes that were present in viral strains that they encountered in childhood.IMPORTANCE Influenza vaccine strains must be updated frequently since circulating viral strains continuously change in antigenically important epitopes. Our previous studies have demonstrated that some individuals possess antibody responses that are narrowly focused on epitopes that were present in viral strains that they encountered during childhood. Here, we show that influenza viruses rapidly escape this type of polyclonal antibody response when grown in ovo by acquiring single mutations that directly prevent antibody binding. These studies improve our understanding of how influenza viruses evolve when confronted with narrowly focused polyclonal human antibodies.