Profile Url: lei-li
Researcher at Nankai University
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently causing a global pandemic. The antigen specificity and kinetics of the antibody response mounted against this novel virus are not understood in detail. Here, we report that subjects with a more severe SARS-CoV-2 infection exhibit a larger antibody response against the spike and nucleocapsid protein and epitope spreading to subdominant viral antigens, such as open reading frame 8 and non-structural proteins. Subjects with a greater antibody response mounted a larger memory B cell response against the spike, but not the nucleocapsid protein. Additionally, we revealed that antibodies against the spike are still capable of binding the D614G spike mutant and cross-react with the SARS-CoV-1 receptor binding domain. Together, this study reveals that subjects with a more severe SARS-CoV-2 infection exhibit a greater overall antibody response to the spike and nucleocapsid protein and a larger memory B cell response against the spike. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
Artificial mutagenesis and chimeric/mosaic protein engineering have laid the foundation for antigenic characterization and universal vaccine design for influenza viruses. However, many methods used for influenza research and vaccine development require sequence editing and protein expression, limiting their applicability and the progress of related research to specialists. Rapid tools allowing even novice influenza researchers to properly analyze and visualize influenza protein sequences with accurate nomenclature are needed to expand the research field. To address this need, we developed Librator, a system for analyzing and designing protein sequences of influenza virus Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA). With the graphical user interface (GUI) and built-in sequence editing functions of Librator, biologists can easily analyze influenza sequences and phylogenies, automatically port sequences to visualize structures, then readily mutate target residues and design sequences for antigen probes and chimeric/mosaic proteins efficiently and accurately. This system provides optimized fragment design for Gibson Assembly of HA and NA expression constructs based on peptide conservation of all historical HA and NA sequences, ensuring fragments are reusable and compatible, allowing for significant reagent savings. Use of Librator will significantly facilitate influenza research and vaccine antigen design.
Influenza viruses grown in eggs for the purposes of vaccine generation often acquire mutations during egg adaptation or possess differential glycosylation patterns than viruses circulating amongst humans. Here, we report that seasonal influenza virus vaccines possess an egg-derived sulfated N-acetyllactosamine (LacNAc) that is an antigenic decoy. Half of subjects that received an egg-grown vaccine mounted an antibody response against this egg-derived antigen. Egg-binding monoclonal antibodies specifically bind viruses grown in eggs, but not viruses grown in other chicken derived cells, suggesting only egg-grown vaccines can induce anti-LacNAc antibodies. Notably, antibodies against the sulfated LacNAc utilized a restricted antibody repertoire and possessed features of natural antibodies, as most antibodies were IgM and have simple heavy chain complementarity determining region 3. By analyzing a public dataset of influenza virus vaccine induced plasmablasts, we discovered egg-binding public clonotypes that were shared across studies. Together, this study shows that egg-grown vaccines can induce antibodies against an egg-associated glycan, which may divert the host immune response away from protective epitopes.
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.