Scott E Hensley
Profile Url: scott-e-hensley
Researcher at University of Pennsylvania
Cell Reports, 2019-12-24
Antibodies targeting the receptor binding site (RBS) of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein are usually not broadly-reactive because their footprints are typically large and extend to nearby variable HA residues. Here, we identified several human H3N2 HA RBS-targeting monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that were sensitive to substitutions in conventional antigenic sites and were not broadly-reactive. However, we also identified one H3N2 HA RBS-targeting mAb that was exceptionally broadly reactive despite being sensitive to substitutions in residues outside of the RBS. We determined that similar antibodies are present at measurable levels in the sera of some individuals but that they are inefficiently elicited by conventional vaccines. Our data indicate that some HA RBS-targeting antibodies can be surprisingly effective against variable viral strains even if they are somewhat sensitive to substitutions in HA residues adjacent to the RBS.
A longstanding question is how influenza evolves to escape human immunity, which is polyclonal and can target many distinct epitopes on the virus. Here we map how all amino-acid mutations to influenza's major surface protein affect viral neutralization by polyclonal human sera. The serum of some individuals is so focused that it selects single mutations that reduce viral neutralization by over an order of magnitude. However, different viral mutations escape the sera of different individuals. This individual-to-individual variation in viral escape mutations is not present among ferrets, which are frequently used as a model in influenza studies. Our results show how different single mutations help influenza escape the immunity of different members of the human population, a phenomenon that could shape viral evolution and disease susceptibility.
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.
Adaptive immunity to influenza A virus is limited by frequent mutations in the immunodominant head of hemagglutinin (HA). Over the last century, the upward trend in HA-head glycosylation indicates glycan addition can increase fitness, but its role in viral evolution remains unclear. Here, we report glycan evolution follows a clock-like rhythm, pacing the timeline, trajectory, and replacement of HA. Following pandemic introduction, glycans are added to HA at 4- to 6-year intervals, until a functional glycan limit is reached, after which, at 9- to 12-year intervals, glycans are either swapped between different sites, or the HA is replaced by a novel pandemic virus. Using this, we predicted the appearance of the newest glycan on pH1N1 HA. Phylogeographic reconstruction suggests these highly fit strains originated in the Middle East, before rapidly replacing all strains globally. Going forward, we can use this simple algorithm to forecast future glycan evolution and identify seasons with higher pandemic potential.