Structure and applications of novel influenza HA tri-stalk protein for evaluation of HA stem-specific immunity.
ABSTRACT: Long alpha helix (LAH) from influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) stem or stalk domain is one of the most conserved influenza virus antigens. Expression of N-terminally extended LAH in E. coli leads to assembly of ?-h elical homotrimer which is structurally nearly identical to the corresponding region of post-fusion form of native HA. This novel tri-stalk protein was able to differentiate between group 1 and 2 influenza in ELISA with virus-infected mice sera. It was also successfully applied for enzyme-linked immunospot assay to estimate the number of HA stem-reactive antibody (Ab)-secreting cells in mice. An in-house indirect ELISA was developed using a HA tri-stalk protein as a coating antigen for evaluation of HA stem-specific Ab levels in human sera collected in Luxembourg from 211 persons with occupational exposure to swine before the pandemic H1N1/09 virus had spread to Western Europe. Our results show that 70% of these pre-pandemic sera are positive for HA stem-specific Abs. In addition, levels of HA stem-specific Abs have positive correlation with the corresponding IgG titers and neutralizing activities against pandemic H1N1/09 virus.
Project description:We selected the conserved sequence in the stalk region of influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) trimmer, the long alpha helix (LAH), as the vaccine candidate sequence, and inserted it into the major immunodominant region (MIR) of hepatitis B virus core protein (HBc), and, by using the E. coli expression system, we prepared a recombinant protein vaccine LAH-HBc in the form of virus-like particles (VLP). Intranasal immunization of mice with this LAH-HBc VLP plus cholera toxin B subunit with 0.2% of cholera toxin (CTB(*)) adjuvant could effectively elicit humoral and cellular immune responses and protect mice against a lethal challenge of homologous influenza viruses (A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 (PR8) (H1N1)). In addition, passage of the immune sera containing specific antibodies to naïve mice rendered them resistant against a lethal homologous challenge. Immunization with LAH-HBc VLP vaccine plus CTB(*) adjuvant could also fully protect mice against a lethal challenge of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus or the avian H9N2 virus and could partially protect mice against a lethal challenge of the avian H5N1 influenza virus. This study demonstrated that the LAH-HBc VLP vaccine based on a conserved sequence of the HA trimmer stalk region is a promising candidate vaccine for developing a universal influenza vaccine against multiple influenza viruses infections.
Project description:The widespread influenza virus infection further emphasizes the need for novel vaccine strategies that effectively reduce the impact of epidemic as well as pandemic influenza. Conventional influenza vaccines generally induce virus neutralizing antibody responses which are specific for a few antigenically related strains within the same subtype. However, antibodies directed against the conserved stalk domain of HA could neutralize multiple subtypes of influenza virus and thus provide broad-spectrum protection. In this study, we designed and constructed a recombinant baculovirus-based vaccine, rBac-HA virus, that expresses full-length HA of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus (A/California/04/09) on the viral envelope. We demonstrated that repeated intranasal immunizations with rBac-HA virus induced HA stalk-specific antibody responses and protective immunity against homologous as well as heterosubtypic virus challenge. The adoptive transfer experiment shows that the cross-protection is conferred by the immune sera which contain HA stalk-specific antibodies. These results warrant further development of rBac-HA virus as a broad-protective vaccine against influenza. The vaccine induced protection against infection with the same subtype as well as different subtype, promising a potential universal vaccine for broad protection against different subtypes to control influenza outbreaks including pandemic.
Project description:The lack of a universal influenza vaccine is a global health problem. Interest is now focused on structurally conserved protein domains capable of eliciting protection against a broad range of influenza virus strains. The long alpha helix (LAH) is an attractive vaccine component since it is one of the most conserved influenza hemagglutinin (HA) stalk regions. For an improved immune response, the LAH domain from H3N2 strain has been incorporated into virus-like particles (VLPs) derived from hepatitis B virus core protein (HBc) using recently developed tandem core technology.Fermentation conditions for recombinant HBc-LAH were established in yeast Pichia pastoris and a rapid and efficient purification method for chimeric VLPs was developed to match the requirements for industrial scale-up. Purified VLPs induced strong antibody responses against both group 1 and group 2 HA proteins in mice.Our results indicate that the tandem core technology is a useful tool for incorporation of highly hydrophobic LAH domain into HBc VLPs. Chimeric VLPs can be successfully produced in bioreactor using yeast expression system. Immunologic data indicate that HBc VLPs carrying the LAH antigen represent a promising universal influenza vaccine component.
Project description:Broadly neutralizing antibodies (Abs) that bind the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) stem may enable universal influenza vaccination. Here, we show that anti-stem Abs sterically inhibit viral neuraminidase (NA) activity against large substrates, with activity inversely proportional to the length of the fibrous NA stalk that supports the enzymatic domain. By modulating NA stalk length in recombinant IAVs, we show that anti-stem Abs inhibit virus release from infected cells by blocking NA, accounting for their in vitro neutralization activity. NA inhibition contributes to anti-stem Ab protection in influenza-infected mice, likely due at least in part to NA-mediated inhibition of Fc?R-dependent activation of innate immune cells by Ab bound to virions. Food and Drug Administration-approved NA inhibitors enhance anti-stem-based Fc-dependent immune cell activation, raising the possibility of therapeutic synergy between NA inhibitors and anti-stem mAb treatment in humans.
Project description:Currently licensed vaccines against the influenza A virus (IAV) need to be updated annually to match the constantly evolving antigenicity of the influenza virus glycoproteins, hemagglutinin (HA), and neuramidiase (NA). Attempts to develop universal vaccines that provide broad protection have resulted in some success. Herein, we have shown that a replication-deficient adenovirus expressing H5/M2e induced significant humoral immunity against the conserved HA stalk. Compared to the humoral responses induced by an inactivated influenza vaccine, the humoral responses induced by the adenovirus-vectored vaccine against the conserved stalk domain mediated cross-protection against heterosubtypic influenza viruses. Importantly, virus inactivation by formaldehyde significantly reduced the binding of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to the conserved nucleoprotein (NP), M2e, and HA stalk. These results suggest that inactivation by formaldehyde significantly alters the antigenicity of the HA stalk, and suggest that the conformation of the intact HA stalk provided by vector-based vaccines is important for induction of HA stalk-binding Abs. Our study provides insight into the mechanism by which a vector-based vaccine induces broad protection by stimulation of cross-protective Abs targeting conserved domains of viral proteins. The findings support further strategies to develop a vectored vaccine as a universal influenza vaccine for the control of influenza epidemics and unpredicted pandemics.
Project description:The emergence of pandemic influenza viruses poses a major public health threat. Therefore, there is a need for a vaccine that can induce broadly cross-reactive antibodies that protect against seasonal as well as pandemic influenza strains. Human broadly neutralizing antibodies directed against highly conserved epitopes in the stem region of influenza virus HA have been recently characterized. However, it remains unknown what the baseline levels are of antibodies and memory B cells that are directed against these conserved epitopes. More importantly, it is also not known to what extent anti-HA stem B-cell responses get boosted in humans after seasonal influenza vaccination. In this study, we have addressed these two outstanding questions. Our data show that: (i) antibodies and memory B cells directed against the conserved HA stem region are prevalent in humans, but their levels are much lower than B-cell responses directed to variable epitopes in the HA head; (ii) current seasonal influenza vaccines are efficient in inducing B-cell responses to the variable HA head region but they fail to boost responses to the conserved HA stem region; and (iii) in striking contrast, immunization of humans with the avian influenza virus H5N1 induced broadly cross-reactive HA stem-specific antibodies. Taken together, our findings provide a potential vaccination strategy where heterologous influenza immunization could be used for increasing the levels of broadly neutralizing antibodies and for priming the human population to respond quickly to emerging pandemic influenza threats.
Project description:The induction of antibodies specific for the influenza HA protein stalk domain is being pursued as a universal strategy against influenza virus infections. However, little work has been done looking at natural or induced antigenic variability in this domain and the effects on viral fitness. We analyzed human H1 HA head and stalk domain sequences and found substantial variability in both, although variability was highest in the head region. Furthermore, using human immune sera from pandemic A/California/04/2009 immune subjects and mAbs specific for the stalk domain, viruses were selected in vitro containing mutations in both domains that partially contributed to immune evasion. Recombinant viruses encoding amino acid changes in the HA stalk domain replicated well in vitro, and viruses incorporating two of the stalk mutations retained pathogenicity in vivo. These findings demonstrate that the HA protein stalk domain can undergo limited drift under immune pressure and the viruses can retain fitness and virulence in vivo, findings which are important to consider in the context of vaccination targeting this domain.
Project description:Broadly cross-reactive antibodies (Abs) that recognize conserved epitopes within the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) stalk domain are of particular interest for their potential use as therapeutic and prophylactic agents against multiple influenza virus subtypes, including zoonotic virus strains. Here, we characterized four human HA stalk-reactive monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) for their binding breadth and affinity, in vitro neutralization capacity, and in vivo protective potential against an highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. The monoclonal antibodies were isolated from individuals shortly following infection with (70-1F02 and 1009-3B05) or vaccination against (05-2G02 and 09-3A01) A(H1N1)pdm09. Three of the MAbs bound HAs from multiple strains of group 1 viruses, and one MAb, 05-2G02, bound to both group 1 and group 2 influenza A virus HAs. All four antibodies prophylactically protected mice against a lethal challenge with the highly pathogenic A/Vietnam/1203/04 (H5N1) strain. Two MAbs, 70-1F02 and 09-3A01, were further tested for their therapeutic efficacy against the same strain and showed good efficacy in this setting as well. One MAb, 70-1F02, cocrystallized with H5 HA and showed heavy-chain-only interactions similar to those seen with the previously described CR6261 anti-stalk antibody. Finally, we show that antibodies that compete with these MAbs are prevalent in serum from an individual recently infected with the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus. The antibodies described here can be developed into broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics that could be used to combat infections by zoonotic or emerging pandemic influenza viruses.IMPORTANCE The rise in zoonotic infections of humans by emerging influenza viruses is a worldwide public health concern. The majority of recent zoonotic human influenza cases were caused by H7N9 and H5Nx viruses and were associated with high morbidity and mortality. In addition, seasonal influenza viruses are estimated to cause up to 650,000 deaths annually worldwide. Currently available antiviral treatment options include only neuraminidase inhibitors, but some influenza viruses are naturally resistant to these drugs, and others quickly develop resistance-conferring mutations. Alternative therapeutics are urgently needed. Broadly protective antibodies that target the conserved "stalk" domain of the hemagglutinin represent potential potent antiviral prophylactic and therapeutic agents that can assist pandemic preparedness. Here, we describe four human monoclonal antibodies that target conserved regions of influenza HA and characterize their binding spectrum as well as their protective capacity in prophylactic and therapeutic settings against a lethal challenge with a zoonotic influenza virus.
Project description:Antibodies that mediate antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) against avian influenza virus subtypes, including H7N9 and H5N1, have been detected in human sera. Using NK cell activation and NK cytotoxicity assays, we compared ADCC-mediating antibodies (ADCC-Abs) in sera collected from healthy infants, children and adults against H7N9 virus-infected cells and recombinant hemagglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA), and nucleoprotein (NP) proteins. High titers of ADCC-Abs against H7N9 virus-infected cells were detected in sera from adults and children but not infants. ADCC-Abs titers directed against H7N9 HA or NA proteins. Further analysis showed that ADCC-Abs titers were significantly higher toward H7N9 NP, as compared with H7N9 HA or NA proteins, and correlated strongly with ADCC-Abs titers against H7N9 virus-infected cells. Indeed, ADCC-Abs to NPs of seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 viruses correlated strongly with ADCC-Abs to H7N9 NP, suggesting that seasonal influenza infections and vaccinations may induce these cross-reactive antibodies. Targeting ADCC-Abs to internal proteins may be a potential mechanism of universal vaccine design.
Project description:In vivo protection by antimicrobial neutralizing Abs can require the contribution of effector functions mediated by Fc-Fc? receptor (Fc-Fc?R) interactions for optimal efficacy. In influenza, broadly neutralizing anti-hemagglutinin (anti-HA) stalk mAbs require Fc-Fc?R interactions to mediate in vivo protection, but strain-specific anti-HA head mAbs do not. Whether this rule applies only to anti-stalk Abs or is applicable to any broadly neutralizing Ab (bNAb) against influenza is unknown. Here, we characterized the contribution of Fc-Fc?R interactions during in vivo protection for a panel of 13 anti-HA mAbs, including bNAbs and non-neutralizing Abs, against both the stalk and head domains. All classes of broadly binding anti-HA mAbs required Fc-Fc?R interactions to provide protection in vivo, including those mAbs that bind the HA head and those that do not neutralize virus in vitro. Further, a broadly neutralizing anti-neuraminidase (anti-NA) mAb also required Fc?Rs to provide protection in vivo, but a strain-specific anti-NA mAb did not. Thus, these findings suggest that the breadth of reactivity of anti-influenza Abs, regardless of their epitope, necessitates interactions with Fc?Rs on effector cell populations to mediate in vivo protection. These findings will guide the design of antiviral Ab therapeutics and inform vaccine design to elicit Abs with optimal binding properties and effector functions.