Structural basis of HCV neutralization by human monoclonal antibodies resistant to viral neutralization escape.
ABSTRACT: The high mutation rate of hepatitis C virus allows it to rapidly evade the humoral immune response. However, certain epitopes in the envelope glycoproteins cannot vary without compromising virus viability. Antibodies targeting these epitopes are resistant to viral escape from neutralization and understanding their binding-mode is important for vaccine design. Human monoclonal antibodies HC84-1 and HC84-27 target conformational epitopes overlapping the CD81 receptor-binding site, formed by segments aa434-446 and aa610-619 within the major HCV glycoprotein E2. No neutralization escape was yet observed for these antibodies. We report here the crystal structures of their Fab fragments in complex with a synthetic peptide comprising aa434-446. The structures show that the peptide adopts an ?-helical conformation with the main contact residues F??² and Y??³ forming a hydrophobic protrusion. The peptide retained its conformation in both complexes, independently of crystal packing, indicating that it reflects a surface feature of the folded glycoprotein that is exposed similarly on the virion. The same residues of E2 are also involved in interaction with CD81, suggesting that the cellular receptor binds the same surface feature and potential escape mutants critically compromise receptor binding. In summary, our results identify a critical structural motif at the E2 surface, which is essential for virus propagation and therefore represents an ideal candidate for structure-based immunogen design for vaccine development.
Project description:The majority of broadly neutralizing antibodies to hepatitis C virus (HCV) are against conformational epitopes on the E2 glycoprotein. Many of them recognize overlapping epitopes in a cluster, designated as antigenic domain B, that contains residues G530 and D535. To gain information on other regions that will be relevant for vaccine design, we employed yeast surface display of antibodies that bound to genotype 1a H77C E2 mutant proteins containing a substitution either at Y632A (to avoid selecting non-neutralizing antibodies) or D535A. A panel of nine human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) was isolated and designated as HC-84-related antibodies. Each HMAb neutralized cell culture infectious HCV (HCVcc) with genotypes 1-6 envelope proteins with varying profiles, and each inhibited E2 binding to the viral receptor CD81. Five of these antibodies neutralized representative genotypes 1-6 HCVcc. Epitope mapping identified a cluster of overlapping epitopes that included nine contact residues in two E2 regions encompassing aa418-446 and aa611-616. Effect on virus entry was measured using H77C HCV retroviral pseudoparticles, HCVpp, bearing an alanine substitution at each of the contact residues. Seven of ten mutant HCVpp showed over 90% reduction compared to wild-type HCVpp and two others showed approximately 80% reduction. Interestingly, four of these antibodies bound to a linear E2 synthetic peptide encompassing aa434-446. This region on E2 has been proposed to elicit non-neutralizing antibodies in humans that interfere with neutralizing antibodies directed at an adjacent E2 region from aa410-425. The isolation of four HC-84 HMAbs binding to the peptide, aa434-446, proves that some antibodies to this region are to highly conserved epitopes mediating broad virus neutralization. Indeed, when HCVcc were passaged in the presence of each of these antibodies, virus escape was not observed. Thus, the cluster of HC-84 epitopes, designated as antigenic domain D, is relevant for vaccine design for this highly diverse virus.
Project description:A challenge for hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine development is defining conserved epitopes that induce protective antibodies against this highly diverse virus. An envelope glycoprotein (E2) segment located at amino acids (aa) 412 to 423 contains highly conserved neutralizing epitopes. While polyclonal antibodies to aa 412 to 423 from HCV-infected individuals confirmed broad neutralization, conflicting findings have been reported on polyclonal antibodies to an adjacent region, aa 434 to 446, that may or may not interfere with neutralization by antibodies to aa 412 to 423. To define the interplay between these antibodies, we isolated human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) to aa 412 to 423, designated HC33-related HMAbs (HC33 HMAbs), and characterized their interactions with other HMAbs to aa 434 to 446. A subset of the HC33 HMAbs neutralized genotype 1 to 6 infectious cell culture-derived HCV virions (HCVcc) with various activities. Although nonneutralizing HC33 HMAbs were isolated, they had lower binding affinities than neutralizing HC33 HMAbs. These antibodies could be converted to neutralizing antibodies by affinity maturation. Unidirectional competition for binding to E2 was observed between HC33 HMAbs and HMAbs to aa 434 to 446. When HMAbs to aa 434 to 446, which mediated neutralization, were combined with neutralizing HC33 HMAbs, biphasic patterns in neutralization were observed. A modest degree of antagonism was observed at lower concentrations, and a modest degree of synergism was observed at higher concentrations. However, the overall effect was additive neutralization. A similar pattern was observed when these antibodies were combined to block E2 binding to the HCV coreceptor, CD81. These findings demonstrate that both of these E2 regions participate in epitopes mediating virus neutralization and that the antibodies to aa 412 to 423 and aa 434 to 446 do not hinder their respective virus-neutralizing activities.
Project description:Understanding the interaction between broadly neutralizing antibodies and their epitopes provides a basis for the rational design of a preventive hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine. CBH-2, HC-11, and HC-1 are representatives of antibodies to overlapping epitopes on E2 that mediate neutralization by blocking virus binding to CD81. To obtain insights into escape mechanisms, infectious cell culture virus, 2a HCVcc, was propagated under increasing concentrations of a neutralizing antibody to isolate escape mutants. Three escape patterns were observed with these antibodies. First, CBH-2 escape mutants that contained mutations at D431G or A439E, which did not compromise viral fitness, were isolated. Second, under the selective pressure of HC-11, escape mutations progressed from a single L438F substitution at a low antibody concentration to double substitutions, L438F and N434D or L438F and T435A, at higher antibody concentrations. Escape from HC-11 was associated with a loss of viral fitness. An HCV pseudoparticle (HCVpp) containing the L438F mutation bound to CD81 half as efficiently as did wild-type (wt) HCVpp. Third, for HC-1, the antibody at a critical concentration completely suppressed viral replication and generated no escape mutants. Epitope mapping revealed contact residues for CBH-2 and HC-11 in two regions of the E2 glycoprotein, amino acids (aa) 425 to 443 and aa 529 to 535. Interestingly, contact residues for HC-1 were identified only in the region encompassing aa 529 to 535 and not in aa 425 to 443. Taken together, these findings point to a region of variability, aa 425 to 443, that is responsible primarily for viral escape from neutralization, with or without compromising viral fitness. Moreover, the region aa 529 to 535 is a core CD81 binding region that does not tolerate neutralization escape mutations.
Project description:The hepatitis C virus (HCV) E2 glycoprotein is a major target of the neutralizing antibody (nAb) response, with multiple type-specific and broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) epitopes identified. The 412-to-423 region can generate bnAbs that block interaction with the cell surface receptor CD81, with activity toward multiple HCV genotypes. In this study, we reveal the structure of rodent monoclonal antibody 24 (MAb24) with an extensive contact area toward a peptide spanning the 412-to-423 region. The crystal structure of the MAb24-peptide 412-to-423 complex reveals the paratope bound to a peptide hairpin highly similar to that observed with human MAb HCV1 and rodent MAb AP33, but with a different angle of approach. In viral outgrowth experiments, we demonstrated three distinct genotype 2a viral populations that acquired resistance to MAb24 via N415D, N417S, and N415D/H386R mutations. Importantly, the MAb24-resistant viruses exhibited significant increases in sensitivity to the majority of bnAbs directed to epitopes within the 412-to-423 region and in additional antigenic determinants located within E2 and the E1E2 complex. This study suggests that modification of N415 causes a global change in glycoprotein structure that increases its vulnerability to neutralization by other antibodies. This finding suggests that in the context of an antibody response to viral infection, acquisition of escape mutations in the 412-to-423 region renders the virus more susceptible to neutralization by other specificities of nAbs, effectively reducing the immunological fitness of the virus. A vaccine for HCV that generates polyspecific humoral immunity with specificity for the 412-to-423 region and at least one other region of E2 is desirable.IMPORTANCE Understanding how antibodies neutralize hepatitis C virus (HCV) is essential for vaccine development. This study reveals for the first time that when HCV develops resistance to a major class of bnAbs targeting the 412-to-423 region of E2, this results in a concomitant increase in sensitivity to neutralization by a majority of other bnAb specificities. Vaccines for the prevention of HCV infection should therefore generate bnAbs directed toward the 412-to-423 region of E2 and additional bnAb epitopes within the viral glycoproteins.
Project description:A challenge in hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine development is defining conserved protective epitopes. A cluster of these epitopes comprises an immunodominant domain on the E2 glycoprotein, designated domain B. CBH-2 is a neutralizing human monoclonal antibody to a domain B epitope that is highly conserved. Alanine scanning demonstrated that the epitope involves residues G523, G530, and D535 that are also contact residues for E2 binding to CD81, a coreceptor required for virus entry into cells. However, another residue, located at position 431 and thus at a considerable distance in the linear sequence of E2, also contributes to the CBH-2 epitope. A single amino acid substitution at this residue results in escape from CBH-2-mediated neutralization in a genotype 1a virus. These results highlight the challenges inherent in developing HCV vaccines and show that an effective vaccine must induce antibodies to both conserved and more invariant epitopes to minimize virus escape.
Project description:Broadly neutralizing antibodies are commonly present in the sera of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. To elucidate possible mechanisms of virus escape from these antibodies, retrovirus particles pseudotyped with HCV glycoproteins (HCVpp) isolated from sequential samples collected over a 26-year period from a chronically infected patient, H, were used to characterize the neutralization potential and binding affinity of a panel of anti-HCV E2 human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs). Moreover, AP33, a neutralizing murine monoclonal antibody (MAb) to a linear epitope in E2, was also tested against selected variants. The HMAbs used were previously shown to broadly neutralize HCV and to recognize a cluster of highly immunogenic overlapping epitopes, designated domain B, containing residues that are also critical for binding of viral E2 glycoprotein to CD81, a receptor essential for virus entry. Escape variants were observed at different time points with some of the HMAbs. Other HMAbs neutralized all variants except for the isolate 02.E10, obtained in 2002, which was also resistant to MAb AP33. The 02.E10 HCVpp that have reduced binding affinities for all antibodies and for CD81 also showed reduced infectivity. Comparison of the 02.E10 nucleotide sequence with that of the strain H-derived consensus variant, H77c, revealed the former to have two mutations in E2, S501N and V506A, located outside the known CD81 binding sites. Substitution A506V in 02.E10 HCVpp restored binding to CD81, but its antibody neutralization sensitivity was only partially restored. Double substitutions comprising N501S and A506V synergistically restored 02.E10 HCVpp infectivity. Other mutations that are not part of the antibody binding epitope in the context of N501S and A506V were able to completely restore neutralization sensitivity. These findings showed that some nonlinear overlapping epitopes are more essential than others for viral fitness and consequently are more invariant during earlier years of chronic infection. Further, the ability of the 02.E10 consensus variant to escape neutralization by the tested antibodies could be a new mechanism of virus escape from immune containment. Mutations that are outside receptor binding sites resulted in structural changes leading to complete escape from domain B neutralizing antibodies, while simultaneously compromising viral fitness by reducing binding to CD81.
Project description:The E2 envelope glycoprotein of hepatitis C virus (HCV) binds to the host entry factor CD81 and is the principal target for neutralizing antibodies (NAbs). Most NAbs recognize hypervariable region 1 on E2, which undergoes frequent mutation, thereby allowing the virus to evade neutralization. Consequently, there is great interest in NAbs that target conserved epitopes. One such NAb is AP33, a mouse monoclonal antibody that recognizes a conserved, linear epitope on E2 and potently neutralizes a broad range of HCV genotypes. In this study, the X-ray structure of AP33 Fab in complex with an epitope peptide spanning residues 412 to 423 of HCV E2 was determined to 1.8 Å. In the complex, the peptide adopts a ?-hairpin conformation and docks into a deep binding pocket on the antibody. The major determinants of antibody recognition are E2 residues L413, N415, G418, and W420. The structure is compared to the recently described HCV1 Fab in complex with the same epitope. Interestingly, the antigen-binding sites of HCV1 and AP33 are completely different, whereas the peptide conformation is very similar in the two structures. Mutagenesis of the peptide-binding residues on AP33 confirmed that these residues are also critical for AP33 recognition of whole E2, confirming that the peptide-bound structure truly represents AP33 interaction with the intact glycoprotein. The slightly conformation-sensitive character of the AP33-E2 interaction was explored by cross-competition analysis and alanine-scanning mutagenesis. The structural details of this neutralizing epitope provide a starting point for the design of an immunogen capable of eliciting AP33-like antibodies.
Project description:Development of a successful hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine requires the definition of neutralization epitopes that are conserved among different HCV genotypes. Five human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) are described that cross-compete with other antibodies to a cluster of overlapping epitopes, previously designated domain B. Each HMAb broadly neutralizes retroviral pseudotype particles expressing HCV E1 and E2 glycoproteins, as well as the infectious chimeric genotype 1a and genotype 2a viruses. Alanine substitutions of residues within a region of E2 involved in binding to CD81 showed that critical E2 contact residues involved in the binding of representative antibodies are identical to those involved in the binding of E2 to CD81.
Project description:Antibodies to epitopes in the E2 protein of hepatitis C virus (HCV) reduce the viral infectivity in vivo and in vitro. However, the virus can persist in patients in the presence of neutralizing antibodies. In this study, we generated a panel of monoclonal antibodies that bound specifically to the region between residues 427 and 446 of the E2 protein of HCV genotype 1a, and we examined their capacity to neutralize HCV in a cell culture system. Of the four monoclonal antibodies described here, two were able to neutralize the virus in a genotype 1a-specific manner. The other two failed to neutralize the virus. Moreover, one of the nonneutralizing antibodies could interfere with the neutralizing activity of a chimpanzee polyclonal antibody at E2 residues 412 to 426, as it did with an HCV-specific immune globulin preparation, which was derived from the pooled plasma of chronic hepatitis C patients. Mapping the epitope-paratope contact interfaces revealed that these functionally distinct antibodies shared binding specificity for key amino acid residues, including W(437), L(438), L(441), and F(442), within the same epitope of the E2 protein. These data suggest that the effectiveness of antibody-mediated neutralization of HCV could be deduced from the interplay between an antibody and a specific set of amino acid residues. Further understanding of the molecular mechanisms of antibody-mediated neutralization and nonneutralization should provide insights for designing a vaccine to control HCV infection in vivo.
Project description:Despite the approval of highly efficient direct-acting antivirals in the last decade Hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains a global health burden and the development of a vaccine would constitute an important step towards the control of HCV. The high genetic variability of the viral glycoproteins E1 and E2, which carry the main neutralizing determinants, together with their intrinsic structural flexibility, the high level of glycosylation that shields conserved neutralization epitopes and immune evasion using decoy epitopes renders the design of an efficient vaccine challenging. Recent structural and functional analyses have highlighted the role of the CD81 receptor binding site on E2, which overlaps with those neutralization epitopes within E2 that have been structurally characterized to date. This CD81 binding site consists of three distinct segments including "epitope I", "epitope II" and the "CD81 binding loop". In this review we summarize the structural features of the HCV glycoproteins that have been derived from X-ray structures of neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibody fragments complexed with either recombinant E2 or epitope-derived linear peptides. We focus on the current understanding how neutralizing antibodies interact with their cognate antigen, the structural features of the respective neutralization epitopes targeted by nAbs and discuss the implications for informed vaccine design.