Andrew B. Ward
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Researcher at The Scripps Research Institute
Mapping the epitope specificities of polyclonal serum is critical to rational vaccine design. However, most high-resolution mapping approaches involve isolating and characterizing individual monoclonal antibodies, which incompletely defines the full polyclonal response. Here we use two complementary approaches to directly map the specificities of the neutralizing and binding antibodies of polyclonal anti-HIV-1 sera from rabbits immunized with BG505 Env SOSIP trimers. To map the neutralizing specificity, we used mutational antigenic profiling to determine how all amino-acid mutations in Env affected viral neutralization. To map the binding specificity, we used electron microscopy polyclonal epitope mapping (EMPEM) to directly visualize the Fabs in serum bound to Env trimers. Mutational antigenic profiling showed that the dominant neutralizing specificities were the C3/V5 and/or 241/289 glycan hole epitopes, which were generally only a subset of the more diverse binding specificities mapped with EMPEM. Additional differences between binding and neutralization reflected antigenicity differences between virus and soluble Env trimer. Further, mutational antigenic profiling was able to refine epitope specificity in residue-level detail directly from sera, revealing subtle differences across rabbits. Together, mutational antigenic profiling and EMPEM allow for a holistic view of the binding and neutralizing specificity of polyclonal sera and could be used to finely evaluate and guide vaccine design. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies against influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) have the potential to provide universal protection against influenza virus infections. Here, we report a distinct class of broadly neutralizing antibodies targeting an epitope toward the bottom of the HA stalk domain where HA is "anchored" to the viral membrane. Antibodies targeting this membrane-proximal anchor epitope utilized a highly restricted repertoire, which encode for two conserved motifs responsible for HA binding. Anchor targeting B cells were common in the human memory B cell repertoire across subjects, indicating pre-existing immunity against this epitope. Antibodies against the anchor epitope at both the serological and monoclonal antibody levels were potently induced in humans by a chimeric HA vaccine, a potential universal influenza virus vaccine. Altogether, this study reveals an underappreciated class of broadly neutralizing antibodies against H1-expressing viruses that can be robustly recalled by a candidate universal influenza virus vaccine.
After first emerging in December 2019 in China, severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has since caused a pandemic leading to millions of infections and deaths worldwide. Vaccines have been developed and authorized but supply of these vaccines is currently limited. With new variants of the virus now emerging and spreading globally, it is essential to develop therapeutics that are broadly protective and bind conserved epitopes in the receptor binding domain (RBD) or the whole spike of SARS-CoV-2. In this study, we have generated mouse monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against different epitopes on the RBD and assessed binding and neutralization against authentic SARS-CoV-2. We have demonstrated that antibodies with neutralizing activity, but not non-neutralizing antibodies, lower viral titers in the lungs when administered in a prophylactic setting in vivo in a mouse challenge model. In addition, most of the mAbs cross-neutralize the B.1.351 as well as the B.1.1.7 variants in vitro.
The adaptive immune system is highly sensitive to arrayed antigens, and multivalent display of viral glycoproteins on symmetric scaffolds has been found to substantially increase the elicitation of antigen-specific antibodies. Motivated by the considerable promise of this strategy for next-generation anti-viral vaccines, we set out to design new self-assembling protein nanoparticles with geometries specifically tailored to scaffold ectodomains of different viral glycoproteins. We first designed and characterized homo-trimers from designed repeat proteins with N-terminal helices positioned to match the C termini of several viral glycoprotein trimers. Oligomers found to experimentally adopt the designed configuration were then used to generate nanoparticles with tetrahedral, octahedral, or icosahedral symmetry. Examples of all three target symmetries were experimentally validated by cryo-electron microscopy and several were assessed for their ability to display viral glycoproteins via genetic fusion. Electron microscopy and antibody binding experiments demonstrated that the designed nanoparticles display conformationally intact native-like HIV-1 Env, influenza hemagglutinin, and prefusion RSV F trimers in the predicted geometries. This work demonstrates that novel nanoparticle immunogens can be designed from the bottom up with atomic-level accuracy and provides a general strategy for precisely controlling epitope presentation and accessibility.
The protective efficacy of neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) elicited during natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 and by vaccination based on its spike protein has been compromised with emergence of the recent SARS-CoV-2 variants. Residues E484 and K417 in the receptor-binding site (RBS) are both mutated in lineages first described in South Africa (B.1.351) and Brazil (B.126.96.36.199). The nAbs isolated from SARS-CoV-2 patients are preferentially encoded by certain heavy-chain germline genes and the two most frequently elicited antibody families (IGHV3-53/3-66 and IGHV1-2) can each bind the RBS in two different binding modes. However, their binding and neutralization are abrogated by either the E484K or K417N mutation, whereas nAbs to the cross-reactive CR3022 and S309 sites are largely unaffected. This structural and functional analysis illustrates why mutations at E484 and K417 adversely affect major classes of nAbs to SARS-CoV-2 with consequences for next-generation COVID-19 vaccines.
Coronaviruses have caused several epidemics and pandemics including the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Some prophylactic vaccines and therapeutic antibodies have already showed striking effectiveness against COVID-19. Nevertheless, concerns remain about antigenic drift in SARS-CoV-2 as well as threats from other sarbecoviruses. Cross-neutralizing antibodies to SARS-related viruses provide opportunities to address such concerns. Here, we report on crystal structures of a cross-neutralizing antibody CV38-142 in complex with the receptor binding domains from SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV. Our structural findings provide mechanistic insights into how this antibody can accommodate antigenic variation in these viruses. CV38-142 synergizes with other cross-neutralizing antibodies, in particular COVA1-16, to enhance neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV. Overall, this study provides valuable information for vaccine and therapeutic design to address current and future antigenic drift in SARS-CoV-2 and to protect against zoonotic coronaviruses.