Hemagglutinin stalk-reactive antibodies interfere with influenza virus neuraminidase activity by steric hindrance

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Author Name

Yao-Qing Chen

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Min Huang

Carole Henry

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Hemagglutinin (HA) stalk-reactive antibodies are the basis of several current one-shot universal influenza vaccine efforts because they protect against a wide spectrum of influenza virus strains. The appreciated mechanism of protection by HA-stalk antibodies is to inhibit HA stalk reconfiguration, blocking viral fusion and entry. This study shows that HA stalk-reactive antibodies also inhibit neuraminidase (NA) enzymatic activity, prohibiting viral egress. NA inhibition (NI) is evident for an attached substrate but not for unattached small molecule cleavage of sialic acid. This suggests that the antibodies inhibit NA enzymatic activity through steric hindrance, thus limiting NA access to sialic acids when adjacent to HA on whole virions. Consistently, F(ab)2 fragments that occupy reduced area without loss of avidity or disrupted HA/NA interactions show significantly reduced NI activity. Notably, HA stalk binding antibodies lacking NI activity were unable to neutralize viral infection via microneutralization assays. This work suggests that NI activity is an important component of HA-stalk antibody mediated protection.

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