Functional screening for anti-CMV biologics identifies a broadly neutralizing epitope of an essential envelope protein.
ABSTRACT: The prototypic ?-herpesvirus human cytomegalovirus (CMV) establishes life-long persistence within its human host. The CMV envelope consists of various protein complexes that enable wide viral tropism. More specifically, the glycoprotein complex gH/gL/gO (gH-trimer) is required for infection of all cell types, while the gH/gL/UL128/130/131a (gH-pentamer) complex imparts specificity in infecting epithelial, endothelial and myeloid cells. Here we utilize state-of-the-art robotics and a high-throughput neutralization assay to screen and identify monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting the gH glycoproteins that display broad-spectrum properties to inhibit virus infection and dissemination. Subsequent biochemical characterization reveals that the mAbs bind to gH-trimer and gH-pentamer complexes and identify the antibodies' epitope as an 'antigenic hot spot' critical for virus entry. The mAbs inhibit CMV infection at a post-attachment step by interacting with a highly conserved central alpha helix-rich domain. The platform described here provides the framework for development of effective CMV biologics and vaccine design strategies.
Project description:Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in transplant patients and the leading viral cause of birth defects after congenital infection. The glycoprotein complexes gH/gL/gO and gH/gL/UL128/UL130/UL131A (Pentamer) are key targets of the human humoral response against HCMV and are required for HCMV entry into fibroblasts and endothelial/epithelial cells, respectively. We expressed and characterized soluble forms of gH/gL, gH/gL/gO, and Pentamer. Mass spectrometry and mutagenesis analysis revealed that gL-Cys144 forms disulfide bonds with gO-Cys351 in gH/gL/gO and with UL128-Cys162 in the Pentamer. Notably, Pentamer harboring the UL128-Cys162Ser/gL-Cys144Ser mutations had impaired syncytia formation and reduced interference of HCMV entry into epithelial cells. Electron microscopy analysis showed that HCMV gH/gL resembles HSV gH/gL and that gO and UL128/UL130/UL131A bind to the same site at the gH/gL N terminus. These data are consistent with gH/gL/gO and Pentamer forming mutually exclusive cell entry complexes and reveal the overall location of gH/gL-, gH/gL/gO-, and Pentamer-specific neutralizing antibody binding sites. Our results provide, to our knowledge, the first structural view of gH/gL/gO and Pentamer supporting the development of vaccines and antibody therapeutics against HCMV.
Project description:The core, conserved function of the herpesvirus gH/gL is to promote gB-mediated membrane fusion during entry, although the mechanism is poorly understood. The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) gH/gL can exist as either the gH/gL/gO trimer or the gH/gL/UL128/UL130/UL131 (gH/gL/UL128-131) pentamer. One model suggests that gH/gL/gO provides the core fusion role during entry into all cells within the broad tropism of HCMV, whereas gH/gL/UL128-131 acts at an earlier stage, by a distinct receptor-binding mechanism to enhance infection of select cell types, such as epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and monocytes/macrophages. To further study the distinct functions of these complexes, mutants with individual charged cluster-to-alanine (CCTA) mutations of gH and gL were combined to generate a library of 80 mutant gH/gL heterodimers. The majority of the mutant gH/gL complexes were unable to facilitate gB-mediated membrane fusion in transient-expression cell-cell fusion experiments. In contrast, these mutants supported the formation of gH/gL/UL128-131 complexes that could block HCMV infection in receptor interference experiments. These results suggest that receptor interactions with gH/gL/UL128-131 involve surfaces contained on the UL128-131 proteins but not on gH/gL. gH/gL/UL128-131 receptor interference could be blocked with anti-gH antibodies, suggesting that interference is a cell surface phenomenon and that anti-gH antibodies can block gH/gL/UL128-131 in a manner that is distinct from that for gH/gL/gO.Interest in the gH/gL complexes of HCMV (especially gH/gL/UL128-131) as vaccine targets has far outpaced our understanding of the mechanism by which they facilitate entry and contribute to broad cellular tropism. For Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), gH/gL and gH/gL/gp42 are both capable of promoting gB fusion for entry into epithelial cells and B cells, respectively. In contrast, HCMV gH/gL/gO appears to be the sole fusion cofactor that promotes gB fusion activity, whereas gH/gL/UL128-131 expands cell tropism through a distinct yet unknown mechanism. This study suggests that the surfaces of HCMV gH/gL are critical for promoting gB fusion but are dispensable for gH/gL/UL128-131 receptor interaction. This underscores the importance of gH/gL/gO in HCMV entry into all cell types and reaffirms the complex as a candidate target for vaccine development. The two functionally distinct forms of gH/gL present in HCMV make for a useful model with which to study the fundamental mechanisms by which herpesvirus gH/gL regulates gB fusion.
Project description:The glycoprotein (g) complex gH/gL represents an essential part of the herpesvirus fusion machinery mediating entry of cell-free virions and cell-associated viral spread. In some herpesviruses additional proteins are associated with gH/gL contributing to the cell tropism of the respective virus. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) gH/gL forms complexes with either gO (UL74) or proteins of the UL128-131A gene locus. While a contribution of UL128-131A to endothelial cell tropism is known, the role of gO is less clear. We studied the role of gH/gL-associated proteins in HCMV replication in human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Deletions of UL74 alone or in combination with mutations of the UL128-131A gene region were introduced into bacterial artificial chromosome vectors derived from the endotheliotropic strain TB40/E. Deletion of UL74 caused a profound defect regarding virus release from infected HFF and HUVEC. Large numbers of capsids accumulated in the cytoplasm of infected HFF but failed to acquire an envelope. Clear cell type differences were observed in the cell-associated spread of the UL74-defective virus. In HFF, focal growth was severely impaired, whereas it was normal in HUVEC. Deletion of UL131A abolished focal growth in endothelial cells. UL74/UL128-131A dual mutants showed severely impaired reconstitution efficiency. Our data suggest that gO plays a critical role in secondary envelopment and release of cell-free virions independent of the cell type but affects cell-associated growth specifically in HFF, whereas UL128-131A contributes to cell-associated spread in HFF and HUVEC.
Project description:Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) causes substantial disease in transplant patients and harms the development of the nervous system in babies infected in utero. Thus, there is a major focus on developing safe and effective HCMV vaccines. Evidence has been presented that a major target of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) is the HCMV pentamer glycoprotein gH/gL/UL128-131. In some studies, most of the NAbs in animal or human sera were found to recognize the pentamer, which mediates HCMV entry into endothelial and epithelial cells. It was also reported that pentamer-specific antibodies correlate with protection against transmission from mothers to babies. One problem with the studies on pentamer-specific NAbs to date has been that the studies did not compare the pentamer to the other major form of gH/gL, the gH/gL/gO trimer, which is essential for entry into all cell types. Here, we demonstrate that both trimer and pentamer NAbs are frequently found in human transplant patients' and pregnant mothers' sera. Depletion of human sera with trimer caused reductions in NAbs similar to that observed following depletion with the pentamer. The trimer- and pentamer-specific antibodies acted in a synergistic fashion to neutralize HCMV and also to prevent virus cell-to-cell spread. Importantly, there was no correlation between the titers of trimer- and pentamer-specific NAbs and transmission of HCMV from mothers to babies. Therefore, both the trimer and pentamer are important targets of NAbs. Nevertheless, these antibodies do not protect against transmission of HCMV from mothers to babies.
Project description:Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) elicits neutralizing antibodies (NAb) of various potencies and cell type specificities to prevent HCMV entry into fibroblasts (FB) and epithelial/endothelial cells (EpC/EnC). NAb targeting the major essential envelope glycoprotein complexes gB and gH/gL inhibit both FB and EpC/EnC entry. In contrast to FB infection, HCMV entry into EpC/EnC is additionally blocked by extremely potent NAb to conformational epitopes of the gH/gL/UL128/130/131A pentamer complex (PC). We recently developed a vaccine concept based on coexpression of all five PC subunits by a single modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vector, termed MVA-PC. Vaccination of mice and rhesus macaques with MVA-PC resulted in a high titer and sustained NAb that blocked EpC/EnC infection and lower-titer NAb that inhibited FB entry. However, antibody function responsible for the neutralizing activity induced by the MVA-PC vaccine is uncharacterized. Here, we demonstrate that MVA-PC elicits NAb with cell type-specific neutralization potency and antigen recognition pattern similar to human NAb targeting conformational and linear epitopes of the UL128/130/131A subunits or gH. In addition, we show that the vaccine-derived PC-specific NAb are significantly more potent than the anti-gH NAb to prevent HCMV spread in EpC and infection of human placental cytotrophoblasts, cell types thought to be of critical importance for HCMV transmission to the fetus. These findings further validate MVA-PC as a clinical vaccine candidate to elicit NAb that resembles those induced during HCMV infection and provide valuable insights into the potency of PC-specific NAb to interfere with HCMV cell-associated spread and infection of key placental cells.As a consequence of the leading role of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in causing permanent birth defects, developing a vaccine against HCMV has been assigned a major public health priority. We have recently introduced a vaccine strategy based on a widely used, safe, and well-characterized poxvirus vector platform to elicit potent and durable neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses targeting the HCMV envelope pentamer complex (PC), which has been suggested as a critical component for a vaccine to prevent congenital HCMV infection. With this work, we confirm that the NAb elicited by the vaccine vector have properties that are similar to those of human NAb isolated from individuals chronically infected with HCMV. In addition, we show that PC-specific NAb have potent ability to prevent infection of key placental cells that HCMV utilizes to cross the fetal-maternal interface, suggesting that NAb targeting the PC may be essential to prevent HCMV vertical transmission.
Project description:Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in transplant patients and in fetuses following congenital infection. The glycoprotein complexes gH/gL/gO and gH/gL/UL128/UL130/UL131A (Pentamer) are required for HCMV entry in fibroblasts and endothelial/epithelial cells, respectively, and are targeted by potently neutralizing antibodies in the infected host. Using purified soluble forms of gH/gL/gO and Pentamer as well as a panel of naturally elicited human monoclonal antibodies, we determined the location of key neutralizing epitopes on the gH/gL/gO and Pentamer surfaces. Mass Spectrometry (MS) coupled to Chemical Crosslinking or to Hydrogen Deuterium Exchange was used to define residues that are either in proximity or part of neutralizing epitopes on the glycoprotein complexes. We also determined the molecular architecture of the gH/gL/gO- and Pentamer-antibody complexes by Electron Microscopy (EM) and 3D reconstructions. The EM analysis revealed that the Pentamer specific neutralizing antibodies bind to two opposite surfaces of the complex, suggesting that they may neutralize infection by different mechanisms. Together, our data identify the location of neutralizing antibodies binding sites on the gH/gL/gO and Pentamer complexes and provide a framework for the development of antibodies and vaccines against HCMV.
Project description:In the 1970s-1980s, a striking increase in the number of disseminated human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections occurred in immunosuppressed patient populations. Autopsy findings documented the in vivo disseminated infection (besides fibroblasts) of epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. As a result, multiple diagnostic assays, such as quantification of HCMV antigenemia (pp65), viremia (infectious virus), and DNAemia (HCMV DNA) in patient blood, were developed. In vitro experiments showed that only low passage or endothelial cell-passaged clinical isolates, and not laboratory-adapted strains, could reproduce both HCMV leuko- and endothelial cell-tropism, which were found through genetic analysis to require the three viral genes UL128, UL130, and UL131 of the HCMV UL128 locus (UL128L). Products of this locus, together with gH/gL, were shown to form the gH/gL/pUL128L pentamer complex (PC) required for infection of epithelial cells/endothelial cells, whereas gH/gL and gO form the gH/gL/gO trimer complex (TC) required for infection of all cell types. In 2016, following previous work, a receptor for the TC that mediates entry into fibroblasts was identified as PDGFR?, while in 2018, a receptor for the PC that mediates entry into endothelial/epithelial cells was identified as neuropilin2 (Nrp2). Furthermore, the olfactory receptor family member OR14I1 was recently identified as a possible additional receptor for the PC in epithelial cells. Thus, current data support two models of viral entry: (i) in fibroblasts, following interaction of PDGFR? with TC, the latter activates gB to fuse the virus envelope with the cell membrane, whereas (ii) in epithelial cells/endothelial cells, interaction of Nrp2 (and OR14I1) with PC promotes endocytosis of virus particles, followed by gB activation by gH/gL/gO (or gH/gL) and final low-pH entry into the cell.
Project description:The prototypic betaherpesvirus human cytomegalovirus (CMV) establishes life-long persistence within its human host. While benign in healthy individuals, CMV poses a significant threat to the immune compromised, including transplant recipients and neonates. The CMV glycoprotein complex gH/gL/gO mediates infection of fibroblasts, and together with the gH/gL/UL128/130/131 a pentameric complex permits infection of epithelial, endothethial, and myeloid cells. Given the central role of the gH/gL complex during infection, we were interested in studying cellular trafficking of the gH/gL complex through generation of human cells that stably express gH and gL. When expressed alone, CMV gH and gL were degraded through the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway. However, co-expression of these proteins stabilized the polypeptides and enhanced their cell-surface expression. To further define regulatory factors involved in gH/gL trafficking, a CMV gH chimera in which the gH transmembrane and cytoplasmic tail were replaced with that of human CD4 protein permitted cell surface gH expression in absence of gL. We thus demonstrate the ability of distinct cellular processes to regulate the trafficking of viral glycoproteins. Collectively, the data provide insight into the processing and trafficking requirements of CMV envelope protein complexes and provide an example of the co-opting of cellular processes by CMV.
Project description:Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) utilizes two different pathways for host cell entry. HCMV entry into fibroblasts requires glycoproteins gB and gH/gL, whereas HCMV entry into epithelial and endothelial cells (EC) requires an additional complex composed of gH, gL, UL128, UL130, and UL131A, referred to as the gH/gL-pentamer complex (gH/gL-PC). While there are no established correlates of protection against HCMV, antibodies are thought to be important in controlling infection. Neutralizing antibodies (NAb) that prevent gH/gL-PC mediated entry into EC are candidates to be assessed for in vivo protective function. However, these potent NAb are predominantly directed against conformational epitopes derived from the assembled gH/gL-PC. To address these concerns, we constructed Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) viruses co-expressing all five gH/gL-PC subunits (MVA-gH/gL-PC), subsets of gH/gL-PC subunits (gH/gL or UL128/UL130/UL131A), or the gB subunit from HCMV strain TB40/E. We provide evidence for cell surface expression and assembly of complexes expressing full-length gH or gB, or their secretion when the corresponding transmembrane domains are deleted. Mice or rhesus macaques (RM) were vaccinated three times with MVA recombinants and serum NAb titers that prevented 50% infection of human EC or fibroblasts by HCMV TB40/E were determined. NAb responses induced by MVA-gH/gL-PC blocked HCMV infection of EC with potencies that were two orders of magnitude greater than those induced by MVA expressing gH/gL, UL128-UL131A, or gB. In addition, MVA-gH/gL-PC induced NAb responses that were durable and efficacious to prevent HCMV infection of Hofbauer macrophages, a fetal-derived cell localized within the placenta. NAb were also detectable in saliva of vaccinated RM and reached serum peak levels comparable to NAb titers found in HCMV hyperimmune globulins. This vaccine based on a translational poxvirus platform co-delivers all five HCMV gH/gL-PC subunits to achieve robust humoral responses that neutralize HCMV infection of EC, placental macrophages and fibroblasts, properties of potential value in a prophylactic vaccine.
Project description:Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading non-genetic cause of fetal malformation in developed countries. CMV placental infection is a pre-requisite for materno-fetal transmission of virus, and fetal infection. We investigated the roles of the viral pentameric complex gH/gL/pUL128-pUL131A, and cellular platelet-derived growth factor receptor-? (PDGFR?) for CMV infection in first trimester extravillous-derived (SGHPL-4) and villous-derived (HTR-8/SVneo) trophoblast cells. Infection with four CMV clinical and laboratory strains (Merlin, TB40E, Towne, AD169), and Merlin deletion mutants of UL128-, UL130-, and UL131A-genes, showed a cell type-dependent requirement of the viral pentameric complex for infection of trophoblast cells. The viral pentameric complex was essential for infection of villous trophoblasts, but non-essential for extravillous trophoblasts. Blocking of PDGFR? in extravillous trophoblasts, which naturally express PDGFR?, inhibited entry of pentameric complex-deficient CMV strains, but not the entry of pentameric positive CMV strains. Transient expression of PDGFR? in villous trophoblasts, which are naturally deficient in PDGFR?, promoted the entry of CMV strains lacking gH/gL/pUL128-pUL131A, but had no effect on entry of pentameric positive CMV strains. These results suggest PDGFR? is an important cell receptor for entry of CMV mutant strains lacking gH/gL/pUL128-pUL131A complexes in some placental cells, suggesting these entry pathways could be potential antiviral targets.