Neutralizing Monoclonal Antibodies against the Gn and the Gc of the Andes Virus Glycoprotein Spike Complex Protect from Virus Challenge in a Preclinical Hamster Model
Duehr J, McMahon M, Williamson B, Amanat F, Durbin A, Hawman DW, Noack D, Uhl S, Tan GS, Feldmann H, Krammer F
Hantaviruses are the etiological agent of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS). The latter is associated with case fatality rates ranging from 30% to 50%. HCPS cases are rare, with approximately 300 recorded annually in the Americas. Recently, an HCPS outbreak of unprecedented size has been occurring in and around Epuyén, in the southwestern Argentinian state of Chubut. Since November of 2018, at least 29 cases have been laboratory confirmed, and human-to-human transmission is suspected. Despite posing a significant threat to public health, no treatment or vaccine is available for hantaviral disease. Here, we describe an effort to identify, characterize, and develop neutralizing and protective antibodies against the glycoprotein complex (Gn and Gc) of Andes virus (ANDV), the causative agent of the Epuyén outbreak. Using murine hybridoma technology, we generated 19 distinct monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against ANDV GnGc. When tested for neutralization against a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus expressing the Andes glycoprotein (GP) (VSV-ANDV), 12 MAbs showed potent neutralization and 8 showed activity in an antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity reporter assay. Escape mutant analysis revealed that neutralizing MAbs targeted both the Gn and the Gc. Four MAbs that bound different epitopes were selected for preclinical studies and were found to be 100% protective against lethality in a Syrian hamster model of ANDV infection. These data suggest the existence of a wide array of neutralizing antibody epitopes on hantavirus GnGc with unique properties and mechanisms of action. Infections with New World hantaviruses are associated with high case fatality rates, and no specific vaccine or treatment options exist. Furthermore, the biology of the hantaviral GnGc complex, its antigenicity, and its fusion machinery are poorly understood. Protective monoclonal antibodies against GnGc have the potential to be developed into therapeutics against hantaviral disease and are also great tools to elucidate the biology of the glycoprotein complex.