Hypervariable region 1 deletion and required adaptive envelope mutations confer decreased dependency on scavenger receptor class B type I and low-density lipoprotein receptor for hepatitis C virus.
ABSTRACT: Hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of envelope protein 2 (E2) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) serves important yet undefined roles in the viral life cycle. We previously showed that the viability of HVR1-deleted JFH1-based recombinants with Core-NS2 of H77 (H77(?HVR1), genotype 1a) and S52 (S52(?HVR1), genotype 3a) in Huh7.5 cells was rescued by E2 substitutions N476D/S733F and an E1 substitution, A369V, respectively; HVR1-deleted J6 (J6(?HVR1), genotype 2a) was fully viable. In single-cycle production assays, where HCV RNA was transfected into entry-deficient Huh7-derived S29 cells with low CD81 expression, we found no effect of HVR1 deletion on replication or particle release for H77 and S52. HCV pseudoparticle assays in Huh7.5 cells showed that HVR1 deletion decreased entry by 20- to 100-fold for H77, J6, and S52; N476D/S733F restored entry for H77(?HVR1), while A369V further impaired S52(?HVR1) entry. We investigated receptor usage by antibody blocking and receptor silencing in Huh7.5 cells, followed by inoculation of parental and HVR1-deleted HCV recombinants. Compared to parental viruses, scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI) dependency was decreased for H77(?HVR1/N476D/S733F), H77(N476D/S733F), S52(?HVR1/A369V), and S52(A369V), but not for J6(?HVR1). Low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLr) dependency was decreased for HVR1-deleted viruses, but not for H77(N476D/S733F) and S52(A369V). Soluble LDLr neutralization revealed strong inhibition of parental HCV but limited effect against HVR1-deleted viruses. Apolipoprotein E (ApoE)-specific HCV neutralization was similar for H77, J6, and S52 viruses with and without HVR1. In conclusion, HVR1 and HVR1-related adaptive envelope mutations appeared to be involved in LDLr and SR-BI dependency, respectively. Also, LDLr served ApoE-independent but HVR1-dependent functions in HCV entry.
Project description:Global control of hepatitis C virus (HCV) depends on development of a prophylactic vaccine. We studied escape for cross-genotype-reactive neutralizing antibody AR4A, providing valuable information for HCV vaccine design. We cultured HCV core-NS2 recombinants H77 (genotype 1a)/JFH1 or the highly antibody-susceptible hypervariable region 1 (HVR1)-deleted variants H77/JFH1?HVR1 and J6(genotype 2a)/JFH1?HVR1 in Huh7.5 cells with AR4A. Long-term AR4A exposure of H77/JFH1 and H77/JFH1?HVR1 did not yield resistance. However, J6/JFH1?HVR1 developed the envelope-E2 substitutions I696T or I696N, which reduced AR4A binding (I696N > I696T). I696N conferred greater AR4A resistance than I696T in J6/JFH1?HVR1, whereas the reverse was observed in J6/JFH1. This was because I696N but not I696T conferred broadly increased antibody neutralization susceptibility to J6/JFH1. I696N and I696T abrogated infectivity of H77/JFH1 and broadly increased neutralization susceptibility of S52 (genotype 3a)/JFH1. In conclusion, I696 is in the AR4A epitope, which has a high barrier to resistance, thus strengthening the rationale for its inclusion in rational HCV vaccine designs.
Project description:Yearly, ?2 million people become hepatitis C virus (HCV) infected, resulting in an elevated lifetime risk for severe liver-related chronic illnesses. Characterizing epitopes of broadly neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), such as AR3A, is critical to guide vaccine development. Previously identified alanine substitutions that can reduce AR3A binding to expressed H77 envelope were introduced into chimeric cell culture-infectious HCV recombinants (HCVcc) H77(core-NS2)/JFH1. Substitutions G523A, G530A, and D535A greatly reduced fitness, and S424A, P525A, and N540A, although viable, conferred only low-level AR3A resistance. Using highly NAb-sensitive hypervariable region 1 (HVR1)-deleted HCVcc, H77/JFH1?HVR1 and J6(core-NS2)/JFH1?HVR1, we previously reported a low barrier to developing AR5A NAb resistance substitutions. Here, we cultured Huh7.5 cells infected with H77/JFH1, H77/JFH1?HVR1, or J6/JFH1?HVR1 with AR3A. We identified the resistance envelope substitutions M345T in H77/JFH1, L438S and F442Y in H77/JFH1?HVR1, and D431G in J6/JFH1?HVR1 M345T increased infectivity and conferred low-level AR3A resistance to H77/JFH1 but not H77/JFH1?HVR1 L438S and F442Y conferred high-level AR3A resistance to H77/JFH1?HVR1 but abrogated the infectivity of H77/JFH1. D431G conferred AR3A resistance to J6/JFH1?HVR1 but not J6/JFH1. This was possibly because D431G conferred broadly increased neutralization sensitivity to J6/JFH1D431G but not J6/JFH1?HVR1/D431G while decreasing scavenger receptor class B type I coreceptor dependency. Common substitutions at positions 431 and 442 did not confer high-level resistance in other genotype 2a recombinants [JFH1 or T9(core-NS2)/JFH1]. Although the data indicate that AR3A has a high barrier to resistance, our approach permitted identification of low-level resistance substitutions. Also, the HVR1-dependent effects on AR3A resistance substitutions suggest a complex role of HVR1 in virus escape and receptor usage, with important implications for HCV vaccine development.IMPORTANCE Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a leading cause of liver-related mortality, and limited treatment accessibility makes vaccine development a high priority. The vaccine-relevant cross-genotype-reactive antibody AR3A has shown high potency, but the ability of the virus to rapidly escape by mutating the AR3A epitope (barrier to resistance) remains unexplored. Here, we succeeded in inducing only low-level AR3A resistance, indicating a higher barrier to resistance than what we have previously reported for AR5A. Furthermore, we identify AR3A resistance substitutions that have hypervariable region 1 (HVR1)-dependent effects on HCV viability and on broad neutralization sensitivity. One of these substitutions increased envelope breathing and decreased scavenger receptor class B type I HCV coreceptor dependency, both in an HVR1-dependent fashion. Thus, we identify novel AR3A-specific resistance substitutions and the role of HVR1 in protecting HCV from AR3-targeting antibodies. These viral escape mechanisms should be taken into consideration in future HCV vaccine development.
Project description:About two million new cases of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections annually underscore the urgent need for a vaccine. However, this effort has proven challenging because HCV evades neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) through molecular features of viral envelope glycoprotein E2, including hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) and N-linked glycans. Here, we observe large variation in the effects of removing individual E2 glycans across HCV strains H77(genotype 1a), J6(2a), and S52(3a) in Huh7.5 cell infections. Also, glycan-mediated effects on neutralization sensitivity were completely HVR1-dependent, and neutralization data were consistent with indirect protection of epitopes, as opposed to direct steric shielding. Indeed, the effect of removing each glycan was similar both in type (protective or sensitizing) and relative strength across four nonoverlapping neutralization epitopes. Temperature-dependent neutralization (e.g., virus breathing) assays indicated that both HVR1 and protective glycans stabilized a closed, difficult to neutralize, envelope conformation. This stabilizing effect was hierarchical as removal of HVR1 fully destabilized closed conformations, irrespective of glycan status, consistent with increased instability at acidic pH and high temperatures. Finally, we observed a strong correlation between neutralization sensitivity and scavenger receptor BI dependency during viral entry. In conclusion, our study indicates that HVR1 and glycans regulate HCV neutralization by shifting the equilibrium between open and closed envelope conformations. This regulation appears tightly linked with scavenger receptor BI dependency, suggesting a role of this receptor in transitions from closed to open conformations during entry. This importance of structural dynamics of HCV envelope glycoproteins has critical implications for vaccine development and suggests that similar phenomena could contribute to immune evasion of other viruses.
Project description:There are 3-4 million new hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections yearly. The extensive intergenotypic sequence diversity of envelope proteins E1 and E2 of HCV and shielding of important epitopes by hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of E2 are believed to be major hindrances to developing universally protective HCV vaccines. Using cultured viruses expressing the E1/E2 complex of isolates H77 (genotype 1a), J6 (2a), or S52 (3a), with and without HVR1, we tested HVR1-mediated neutralization occlusion in vitro against a panel of 12 well-characterized human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) targeting diverse E1, E2, and E1/E2 epitopes. Surprisingly, HVR1-mediated protection was greatest for S52, followed by J6 and then H77. HCV pulldown experiments showed that this phenomenon was caused by epitope shielding. Moreover, by regression analysis of HMAb binding and neutralization titer of HCV we found a strong correlation for HVR1-deleted viruses but not for parental viruses retaining HVR1. The intergenotype neutralization sensitivity of the parental viruses to HMAb antigenic region (AR) 2A, AR3A, AR4A, AR5A, HC84.26, and HC33.4 varied greatly (>24-fold to >130-fold differences in 50% inhibitory concentration values). However, except for AR5A, these differences decreased to less than 6.0-fold when comparing the corresponding HVR1-deleted viruses. Importantly, this simplified pattern of neutralization sensitivity in the absence of HVR1 was also demonstrated in a panel of HVR1-deleted viruses of genotypes 1a, 2a, 2b, 3a, 5a, and 6a, although for all HMAbs, except AR4A, an outlier was observed. Finally, unique amino acid residues in HCV E2 could explain these outliers in the tested cases of AR5A and HC84.26.HVR1 adds complexity to HCV neutralization by shielding a diverse array of unexpectedly cross-genotype-conserved E1/E2 epitopes. Thus, an HVR1-deleted antigen could be a better HCV vaccine immunogen. (Hepatology 2016;64:1881-1892).
Project description:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of end-stage liver diseases. With 3-4 million new HCV infections yearly, a vaccine is urgently needed. A better understanding of virus escape from neutralizing antibodies and their corresponding epitopes are important for this effort. However, for viral isolates with high antibody resistance, or antibodies with moderate potency, it remains challenging to induce escape mutations in vitro. Here, as proof-of-concept, we used antibody-sensitive HVR1-deleted (?HVR1) viruses to generate escape mutants for a human monoclonal antibody, AR5A, targeting a rare cross-genotype conserved epitope. By analyzing the genotype 1a envelope proteins (E1/E2) of recovered Core-NS2 recombinant H77/JFH1?HVR1 and performing reverse genetic studies we found that resistance to AR5A was caused by substitution L665W, also conferring resistance to the parental H77/JFH1. The mutation did not induce viral fitness loss, but abrogated AR5A binding to HCV particles and intracellular E1/E2 complexes. Culturing J6/JFH1?HVR1 (genotype 2a), for which fitness was decreased by L665W, with AR5A generated AR5A-resistant viruses with the substitutions I345V, L665S, and S680T, which we introduced into J6/JFH1 and J6/JFH1?HVR1. I345V increased fitness but had no effect on AR5A resistance. L665S impaired fitness and decreased AR5A sensitivity, while S680T combined with L665S compensated for fitness loss and decreased AR5A sensitivity even further. Interestingly, S680T alone had no fitness effect but sensitized the virus to AR5A. Of note, H77/JFH1L665S was non-viable. The resistance mutations did not affect cell-to-cell spread or E1/E2 interactions. Finally, introducing L665W, identified in genotype 1, into genotypes 2-6 parental and HVR1-deleted variants (not available for genotype 4a) we observed diverse effects on viral fitness and a universally pronounced reduction in AR5A sensitivity. Thus, we were able to take advantage of the neutralization-sensitive HVR1-deleted viruses to rapidly generate escape viruses aiding our understanding of the divergent escape pathways used by HCV to evade AR5A.
Project description:HCV is a major cause of chronic liver disease worldwide, but the role of neutralising antibodies (nAbs) in its natural history remains poorly defined. We analysed the in vivo role of hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) for HCV virion properties, including nAb susceptibility.Analysis of HCV from human liver chimeric mice infected with cell-culture-derived prototype genotype 2a recombinant J6/JFH1 or HVR1-deleted variant J6/JFH1?HVR1 identified adaptive mutations, which were analysed by reverse genetics in Huh7.5 and CD81-deficient S29 cells. The increased in vivo genomic stability of the adapted viruses facilitated ex vivo density analysis by ultracentrifugation and in vivo neutralisation experiments addressing the role of HVR1.In vivo, J6/JFH1 and J6/JFH1?HVR1 depended on single substitutions within amino acids 867-876 in non-structural protein, NS2. The identified A876P-substitution resulted in a 4.7-fold increase in genomic stability. In vitro, NS2 substitutions enhanced infectivity 5-10-fold by increasing virus assembly. Mouse-derived mJ6/JFH1A876P and mJ6/JFH1?HVR1/A876P viruses displayed similar heterogeneous densities of 1.02-1.1 g/mL. Human liver chimeric mice loaded with heterologous patient H (genotype 1a) immunoglobulin had partial protection against mJ6/JFH1A876P and complete protection against mJ6/JFH1?HVR1/A876P. Interestingly, we identified a putative escape mutation, D476G, in mJ6/JFH1A876P. This mutation in hypervariable region 2 conferred 6.6-fold resistance against H06 IgG in vitro.The A876P-substitution bridges in vitro and in vivo studies using J6/JFH1-based recombinants. We provide the first in vivo evidence that HVR1 protects cross-genotype conserved HCV neutralisation epitopes, which advocates the possibility of using HVR1-deleted viruses as vaccine antigens to boost broadly reactive protective nAb responses.
Project description:With the development of directly acting antivirals, hepatitis C virus (HCV) therapy entered a new era. However, rapid selection of resistance mutations necessitates combination therapy. To study combination therapy in infectious culture systems, we aimed at developing HCV semi-full-length (semi-FL) recombinants relying only on the JFH1 NS3 helicase, NS5B, and the 3' untranslated region. With identified adaptive mutations, semi-FL recombinants of genotypes(isolates) 1a(TN) and 3a(S52) produced supernatant infectivity titers of ~4 log(10) focus-forming units/ml in Huh7.5 cells. Genotype 1a(TN) adaptive mutations allowed generation of 1a(H77) semi-FL virus. Concentration-response profiles revealed the higher efficacy of the NS3 protease inhibitor asunaprevir (BMS-650032) and the NS5A inhibitor daclatasvir (BMS-790052) against 1a(TN and H77) than 3a(S52) viruses. Asunaprevir had intermediate efficacy against previously developed 2a recombinants J6/JFH1 and J6cc. Daclatasvir had intermediate efficacy against J6/JFH1, while low sensitivity was confirmed against J6cc. Using a cross-titration scheme, infected cultures were treated until viral escape or on-treatment virologic suppression occurred. Compared to single-drug treatment, combination treatment with relatively low concentrations of asunaprevir and daclatasvir suppressed infection with all five recombinants. Escaped viruses primarily had substitutions at amino acids in the NS3 protease and NS5A domain I reported to be genotype 1 resistance mutations. Inhibitors showed synergism at drug concentrations reported in vivo. In summary, semi-FL HCV recombinants, including the most advanced reported genotype 3a infectious culture system, permitted genotype-specific analysis of combination treatment in the context of the complete viral life cycle. Despite differential sensitivity to lead compound NS3 protease and NS5A inhibitors, genotype 1a, 2a, and 3a viruses were suppressed by combination treatment with relatively low concentrations.
Project description:Previously, RNA transcripts of cDNA clones of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes 1a (strains H77, HCV-1, and HC-TN), 1b (HC-J4, Con1, and HCV-N), and 2a (HC-J6 and JFH1) were found to be infectious in chimpanzees. However, only JFH1 was infectious in human hepatoma Huh7 cells. We performed genetic analysis of HCV genotype 3a (strain S52) and 4a (strain ED43) prototype strains and generated full-length consensus cDNA clones (pS52 and pED43). Transfection of Huh7.5 cells with RNA transcripts of these clones did not yield cells expressing HCV Core. However, intrahepatic transfection of chimpanzees resulted in robust infection with peak HCV RNA titers of approximately 5.5 log(10) international units (IU)/ml. Genomic consensus sequences recovered from serum at the times of peak viral titers were identical to the sequences of the parental plasmids. Both chimpanzees developed acute hepatitis with elevated liver enzymes and significant necroinflammatory liver changes coinciding with detection of gamma interferon-secreting, intrahepatic T cells. However, the onset and broadness of intrahepatic T-cell responses varied greatly in the two animals, with an early (week 4) multispecific response in the ED43-infected animal (3 weeks before the first evidence of viral control) and a late (week 11) response with limited breadth in the S52-infected animal (without evidence of viral control). Autologous serum neutralizing antibodies were not detected during the acute infection in either animal. Both animals became persistently infected. In conclusion, we generated fully functional infectious cDNA clones of HCV genotypes 3a and 4a. Proof of functionality of all genes might further the development of recombinant cell culture systems for these important genotypes.
Project description:Alpha interferon (IFN-α) is an essential component of innate antiviral immunity and of treatment regimens for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Resistance to IFN might be important for HCV persistence and failure of IFN-based therapies. Evidence for HCV genetic correlates of IFN resistance is limited. Experimental studies were hampered by lack of HCV culture systems. Using genotype (strain) 1a(H77) and 3a(S52) Core-NS2 JFH1-based recombinants, we aimed at identifying viral correlates of IFN-α resistance in vitro. Long-term culture with IFN-α2b in Huh7.5 cells resulted in viral spread with acquisition of putative escape mutations in HCV structural and nonstructural proteins. Reverse genetic studies showed that primarily amino acid changes I348T in 1a(H77) E1 and F345V/V414A in 3a(S52) E1/E2 increased viral fitness. Single-cycle assays revealed that I348T and F345V/V414A enhanced viral entry and release, respectively. In assays allowing viral spread, these mutations conferred a level of IFN-α resistance exceeding the observed fitness effect. The identified mutations acted in a subtype-specific manner but were not found in genotype 1a and 3a patients, who failed IFN-α therapy. Studies with HCV recombinants with different degrees of culture adaptation confirmed the correlation between viral fitness and IFN-α resistance. In conclusion, in vitro escape experiments led to identification of HCV envelope mutations resulting in increased viral fitness and conferring IFN-α resistance. While we established a close link between viral fitness and IFN-α resistance, identified mutations acted via different mechanisms and appeared to be relatively specific to the infecting virus, possibly explaining difficulties in identifying signature mutations for IFN resistance.
Project description:Hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) E2 envelope glycoprotein has been implicated in virus neutralization and persistence. We deleted HVR1 from JFH1-based HCV recombinants expressing Core/E1/E2/p7/NS2 of genotypes 1 to 6, previously found to grow efficiently in human hepatoma Huh7.5 cells. The 2a(?HVR1), 5a(?HVR1), and 6a(?HVR1) Core-NS2 recombinants retained viability in Huh7.5 cells, whereas 1a(?HVR1), 1b(?HVR1), 2b(?HVR1), 3a(?HVR1), and 4a(?HVR1) recombinants were severely attenuated. However, except for recombinant 4a(?HVR1), viruses eventually spread, and reverse genetics studies revealed adaptive envelope mutations that rescued the infectivity of 1a(?HVR1), 1b(?HVR1), 2b(?HVR1), and 3a(?HVR1) recombinants. Thus, HVR1 might have distinct functional roles for different HCV isolates. Ultracentrifugation studies showed that deletion of HVR1 did not alter HCV RNA density distribution, whereas infectious particle density changed from a range of 1.0 to 1.1 g/ml to a single peak at ?1.1 g/ml, suggesting that HVR1 was critical for low-density HCV particle infectivity. Using chronic-phase HCV patient sera, we found three distinct neutralization profiles for the original viruses with these genotypes. In contrast, all HVR1-deleted viruses were highly sensitive with similar neutralization profiles. In vivo relevance for the role of HVR1 in protecting HCV from neutralization was demonstrated by ex vivo neutralization of 2a and 2a(?HVR1) produced in human liver chimeric mice. Due to the high density and neutralization susceptibility of HVR1-deleted viruses, we investigated whether a correlation existed between density and neutralization susceptibility for the original viruses with genotypes 1 to 6. Only the 2a virus displayed such a correlation. Our findings indicate that HVR1 of HCV shields important conserved neutralization epitopes with implications for viral persistence, immunotherapy, and vaccine development.