Characterization of a broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibody that targets the fusion domain of group 2 influenza A virus hemagglutinin
Tan GS, Lee PS, Hoffman RM, Mazel-Sanchez B, Krammer F, Leon PE, Ward AB, Wilson IA, Palese P
Due to continuous changes to its antigenic regions, influenza viruses can evade immune detection and cause a significant amount of morbidity and mortality around the world. Influenza vaccinations can protect against disease but must be annually reformulated to match the current circulating strains. In the development of a broad-spectrum influenza vaccine, the elucidation of conserved epitopes is paramount. To this end, we designed an immunization strategy in mice to boost the humoral response against conserved regions of the hemagglutinin (HA) glycoprotein. Of note, generation and identification of broadly neutralizing antibodies that target group 2 HAs are rare and thus far have yielded only a few monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Here, we demonstrate that mouse MAb 9H10 has broad and potent in vitro neutralizing activity against H3 and H10 group 2 influenza A subtypes. In the mouse model, MAb 9H10 protects mice against two divergent mouse-adapted H3N2 strains, in both pre- and postexposure administration regimens. In vitro and cell-free assays suggest that MAb 9H10 inhibits viral replication by blocking HA-dependent fusion of the viral and endosomal membranes early in the replication cycle and by disrupting viral particle egress in the late stage of infection. Interestingly, electron microscopy reconstructions of MAb 9H10 bound to the HA reveal that it binds a similar binding footprint to MAbs CR8020 and CR8043.
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