Publications by authors named "Luca Hensen"

18 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8 T-cell responses and TCR signatures in the context of a prominent HLA-A*24:02 allomorph.

Immunol Cell Biol 2021 Jun 4. Epub 2021 Jun 4.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, 3000.

In-depth understanding of human T cell-mediated immunity in COVID-19 is needed if we are to optimize vaccine strategies and immunotherapies. Identification of SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes and generation of peptide-HLA tetramers facilitates direct ex vivo analyses of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells and their T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires. We utilized a combination of peptide prediction and in vitro peptide stimulation to validate novel SARS-CoV-2 epitopes restricted by HLA-A*24:02, one of the most prominent HLA class I alleles, especially in Indigenous and Asian populations. Of the peptides screened, three spike-derived peptides generated CD8 IFN-γ responses above background, S (QYIKWPWYI), S (NYNYLYRLF) and S (VFKNIDGYF), with S generating immunodominant CD8 IFN-γ responses. Using peptide-HLA-I tetramers, we performed direct ex vivo tetramer enrichment for HLA-A*24:02-restricted CD8 T cells in COVID-19 patients and pre-pandemic controls. The precursor frequencies for HLA-A*24:02-restricted epitopes were within the range previously observed for other SARS-CoV-2 epitopes for both COVID-19 patients and pre-pandemic individuals. Naïve A24/SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8 T cells increased ~7.5-fold above the average precursor frequency during COVID-19, gaining effector and memory phenotypes. Ex vivo single-cell analyses of TCRαβ repertoires found that the A24/S CD8 T cell TCRαβ repertoire was driven by a common TCRβ chain motif, while the A24/S CD8 TCRαβ repertoire was diverse across COVID-19 patients. Our study provides an in depth characterisation and important insights into SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8 T cell responses associated with a prominent HLA-A*24:02 allomorph. This contributes to our knowledge on adaptive immune responses during primary COVID-19 and could be exploited in vaccine or immunotherapeutic approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imcb.12482DOI Listing
June 2021

CD8 T cell landscape in Indigenous and non-Indigenous people restricted by influenza mortality-associated HLA-A*24:02 allomorph.

Nat Commun 2021 05 18;12(1):2931. Epub 2021 May 18.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology & Infection and Immunity Program, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia.

Indigenous people worldwide are at high risk of developing severe influenza disease. HLA-A*24:02 allele, highly prevalent in Indigenous populations, is associated with influenza-induced mortality, although the basis for this association is unclear. Here, we define CD8 T-cell immune landscapes against influenza A (IAV) and B (IBV) viruses in HLA-A*24:02-expressing Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, human tissues, influenza-infected patients and HLA-A*24:02-transgenic mice. We identify immunodominant protective CD8 T-cell epitopes, one towards IAV and six towards IBV, with A24/PB2-specific CD8 T cells being cross-reactive between IAV and IBV. Memory CD8 T cells towards these specificities are present in blood (CD27CD45RA phenotype) and tissues (CD103CD69 phenotype) of healthy individuals, and effector CD27CD45RAPD-1CD38CD8 T cells in IAV/IBV patients. Our data show influenza-specific CD8 T-cell responses in Indigenous Australians, and advocate for T-cell-mediated vaccines that target and boost the breadth of IAV/IBV-specific CD8 T cells to protect high-risk HLA-A*24:02-expressing Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations from severe influenza disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23212-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132304PMC
May 2021

Immune cellular networks underlying recovery from influenza virus infection in acute hospitalized patients.

Nat Commun 2021 05 11;12(1):2691. Epub 2021 May 11.

Department of Biochemistry and Genetics, La Trobe Institute For Molecular Science, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC, Australia.

How innate and adaptive immune responses work in concert to resolve influenza disease is yet to be fully investigated in one single study. Here, we utilize longitudinal samples from patients hospitalized with acute influenza to understand these immune responses. We report the dynamics of 18 important immune parameters, related to clinical, genetic and virological factors, in influenza patients across different severity levels. Influenza disease correlates with increases in IL-6/IL-8/MIP-1α/β cytokines and lower antibody responses. Robust activation of circulating T follicular helper cells correlates with peak antibody-secreting cells and influenza heamaglutinin-specific memory B-cell numbers, which phenotypically differs from vaccination-induced B-cell responses. Numbers of influenza-specific CD8 or CD4 T cells increase early in disease and retain an activated phenotype during patient recovery. We report the characterisation of immune cellular networks underlying recovery from influenza infection which are highly relevant to other infectious diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23018-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8113517PMC
May 2021

CD8 T cells specific for an immunodominant SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid epitope display high naive precursor frequency and TCR promiscuity.

Immunity 2021 05 15;54(5):1066-1082.e5. Epub 2021 Apr 15.

Department of Infectious Diseases, Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia; Department of Medicine and Radiology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3000, Australia; Data Analytics Research and Evaluation (DARE) Centre, Austin Health and The University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia.

To better understand primary and recall T cell responses during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), it is important to examine unmanipulated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific T cells. By using peptide-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tetramers for direct ex vivo analysis, we characterized CD8 T cells specific for SARS-CoV-2 epitopes in COVID-19 patients and unexposed individuals. Unlike CD8 T cells directed toward subdominant epitopes (B7/N, A2/S, and A24/S) CD8 T cells specific for the immunodominant B7/N epitope were detected at high frequencies in pre-pandemic samples and at increased frequencies during acute COVID-19 and convalescence. SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8 T cells in pre-pandemic samples from children, adults, and elderly individuals predominantly displayed a naive phenotype, indicating a lack of previous cross-reactive exposures. T cell receptor (TCR) analyses revealed diverse TCRαβ repertoires and promiscuous αβ-TCR pairing within B7/NCD8 T cells. Our study demonstrates high naive precursor frequency and TCRαβ diversity within immunodominant B7/N-specific CD8 T cells and provides insight into SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell origins and subsequent responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2021.04.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8049468PMC
May 2021

Carbamazepine Induces Focused T Cell Responses in Resolved Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Cases But Does Not Perturb the Immunopeptidome for T Cell Recognition.

Front Immunol 2021 12;12:653710. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

Infection and Immunity Program, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia.

Antiseizure medications (ASMs) are frequently implicated in T cell-mediated drug hypersensitivity reactions and cause skin tropic pathologies that range in severity from mild rashes to life-threatening systemic syndromes. During the acute stages of the more severe manifestations of these reactions, drug responsive proinflammatory CD8 T cells display classical features of Th1 cytokine production ( IFNγ) and cytolysis ( granzyme B, perforin). These T cells may be found locally at the site of pathology ( blister cells/fluid), as well as systemically ( blood, organs). What is less understood are the long-lived immunological effects of the memory T cell pool following T cell-mediated drug hypersensitivity reactions. In this study, we examine the ASM carbamazepine (CBZ) and the CBZ-reactive memory T cell pool in patients who have a history of either Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) from 3-to-20 years following their initial adverse reaction. We show that drug restimulation of CBZ-reactive CD8 T cells results in a proinflammatory profile and produces a mainly focused, yet private, T cell receptor (TCR) usage amongst human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B*15:02-positive SJS or TEN patients. Additionally, we show that expression of these CBZ-reactive TCRs in a reporter cell line, lacking endogenous αβTCR, recapitulates the features of TCR activation reported for ASM-treated T cell lines/clones, providing a useful tool for further functional validations. Finally, we conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the HLA-B*15:02 immunopeptidome following ASM (or a metabolite) treatment of a HLA-B*15:02-positive B-lymphoblastoid cell line (C1R.B*15:02) and minor perturbation of the peptide repertoire. Collectively, this study shows that the CBZ-reactive T cells characterized require both the drug and HLA-B*15:02 for activation and that reactivation of memory T cells from blood results in a focused TCR profile in patients with resolved disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.653710DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8071863PMC
April 2021

Safety and immunogenicity of an MF59-adjuvanted spike glycoprotein-clamp vaccine for SARS-CoV-2: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 1 trial.

Lancet Infect Dis 2021 Apr 19. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: Given the scale of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the development of vaccines based on different platforms is essential, particularly in light of emerging viral variants, the absence of information on vaccine-induced immune durability, and potential paediatric use. We aimed to assess the safety and immunogenicity of an MF59-adjuvanted subunit vaccine for COVID-19 based on recombinant SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein stabilised in a pre-fusion conformation by a novel molecular clamp (spike glycoprotein-clamp [sclamp]).

Methods: We did a phase 1, double-blind, placebo-controlled, block-randomised trial of the sclamp subunit vaccine in a single clinical trial site in Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Healthy adults (aged ≥18 to ≤55 years) who had tested negative for SARS-CoV-2, reported no close contact with anyone with active or previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, and tested negative for pre-existing SARS-CoV-2 immunity were included. Participants were randomly assigned to one of five treatment groups and received two doses via intramuscular injection 28 days apart of either placebo, sclamp vaccine at 5 μg, 15 μg, or 45 μg, or one dose of sclamp vaccine at 45 μg followed by placebo. Participants and study personnel, except the dose administration personnel, were masked to treatment. The primary safety endpoints included solicited local and systemic adverse events in the 7 days after each dose and unsolicited adverse events up to 12 months after dosing. Here, data are reported up until day 57. Primary immunogenicity endpoints were antigen-specific IgG ELISA and SARS-CoV-2 microneutralisation assays assessed at 28 days after each dose. The study is ongoing and registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04495933.

Findings: Between June 23, 2020, and Aug 17, 2020, of 314 healthy volunteers screened, 120 were randomly assigned (n=24 per group), and 114 (95%) completed the study up to day 57 (mean age 32·5 years [SD 10·4], 65 [54%] male, 55 [46%] female). Severe solicited reactions were infrequent and occurred at similar rates in participants receiving placebo (two [8%] of 24) and the SARS-CoV-2 sclamp vaccine at any dose (three [3%] of 96). Both solicited reactions and unsolicited adverse events occurred at a similar frequency in participants receiving placebo and the SARS-CoV-2 sclamp vaccine. Solicited reactions occurred in 19 (79%) of 24 participants receiving placebo and 86 (90%) of 96 receiving the SARS-CoV-2 sclamp vaccine at any dose. Unsolicited adverse events occurred in seven (29%) of 24 participants receiving placebo and 35 (36%) of 96 participants receiving the SARS-CoV-2 sclamp vaccine at any dose. Vaccination with SARS-CoV-2 sclamp elicited a similar antigen-specific response irrespective of dose: 4 weeks after the initial dose (day 29) with 5 μg dose (geometric mean titre [GMT] 6400, 95% CI 3683-11 122), with 15 μg dose (7492, 4959-11 319), and the two 45 μg dose cohorts (8770, 5526-13 920 in the two-dose 45 μg cohort; 8793, 5570-13 881 in the single-dose 45 μg cohort); 4 weeks after the second dose (day 57) with two 5 μg doses (102 400, 64 857-161 676), with two 15 μg doses (74 725, 51 300-108 847), with two 45 μg doses (79 586, 55 430-114 268), only a single 45 μg dose (4795, 2858-8043). At day 57, 67 (99%) of 68 participants who received two doses of sclamp vaccine at any concentration produced a neutralising immune response, compared with six (25%) of 24 who received a single 45 μg dose and none of 22 who received placebo. Participants receiving two doses of sclamp vaccine elicited similar neutralisation titres, irrespective of dose: two 5 μg doses (GMT 228, 95% CI 146-356), two 15 μg doses (230, 170-312), and two 45 μg doses (239, 187-307).

Interpretation: This first-in-human trial shows that a subunit vaccine comprising mammalian cell culture-derived, MF59-adjuvanted, molecular clamp-stabilised recombinant spike protein elicits strong immune responses with a promising safety profile. However, the glycoprotein 41 peptide present in the clamp created HIV diagnostic assay interference, a possible barrier to widespread use highlighting the criticality of potential non-spike directed immunogenicity during vaccine development. Studies are ongoing with alternative molecular clamp trimerisation domains to ameliorate this response.

Funding: Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, National Health and Medical Research Council, Queensland Government, and further philanthropic sources listed in the acknowledgments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00200-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8055208PMC
April 2021

Systems serology detects functionally distinct coronavirus antibody features in children and elderly.

Nat Commun 2021 04 1;12(1):2037. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

The hallmarks of COVID-19 are higher pathogenicity and mortality in the elderly compared to children. Examining baseline SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive immunological responses, induced by circulating human coronaviruses (hCoVs), is needed to understand such divergent clinical outcomes. Here we show analysis of coronavirus antibody responses of pre-pandemic healthy children (n = 89), adults (n = 98), elderly (n = 57), and COVID-19 patients (n = 50) by systems serology. Moderate levels of cross-reactive, but non-neutralizing, SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are detected in pre-pandemic healthy individuals. SARS-CoV-2 antigen-specific Fcγ receptor binding accurately distinguishes COVID-19 patients from healthy individuals, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 infection induces qualitative changes to antibody Fc, enhancing Fcγ receptor engagement. Higher cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 IgA and IgG are observed in healthy elderly, while healthy children display elevated SARS-CoV-2 IgM, suggesting that children have fewer hCoV exposures, resulting in less-experienced but more polyreactive humoral immunity. Age-dependent analysis of COVID-19 patients, confirms elevated class-switched antibodies in elderly, while children have stronger Fc responses which we demonstrate are functionally different. These insights will inform COVID-19 vaccination strategies, improved serological diagnostics and therapeutics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22236-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8016934PMC
April 2021

Robust correlations across six SARS-CoV-2 serology assays detecting distinct antibody features.

Clin Transl Immunology 2021 28;10(3):e1258. Epub 2021 Feb 28.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology University of Melbourne, at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity Melbourne VIC Australia.

Objectives: As the world transitions into a new era of the COVID-19 pandemic in which vaccines become available, there is an increasing demand for rapid reliable serological testing to identify individuals with levels of immunity considered protective by infection or vaccination.

Methods: We used 34 SARS-CoV-2 samples to perform a rapid surrogate virus neutralisation test (sVNT), applicable to many laboratories as it circumvents the need for biosafety level-3 containment. We correlated results from the sVNT with five additional commonly used SARS-CoV-2 serology techniques: the microneutralisation test (MNT), in-house ELISAs, commercial Euroimmun- and Wantai-based ELISAs (RBD, spike and nucleoprotein; IgG, IgA and IgM), antigen-binding avidity, and high-throughput multiplex analyses to profile isotype, subclass and Fc effector binding potential. We correlated antibody levels with antibody-secreting cell (ASC) and circulatory T follicular helper (cTfh) cell numbers.

Results: Antibody data obtained with commercial ELISAs closely reflected results using in-house ELISAs against RBD and spike. A correlation matrix across ten measured ELISA parameters revealed positive correlations for all factors. The frequency of inhibition by rapid sVNT strongly correlated with spike-specific IgG and IgA titres detected by both commercial and in-house ELISAs, and MNT titres. Multiplex analyses revealed strongest correlations between IgG, IgG1, FcR and C1q specific to spike and RBD. Acute cTfh-type 1 cell numbers correlated with spike and RBD-specific IgG antibodies measured by ELISAs and sVNT.

Conclusion: Our comprehensive analyses provide important insights into SARS-CoV-2 humoral immunity across distinct serology assays and their applicability for specific research and/or diagnostic questions to assess SARS-CoV-2-specific humoral responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cti2.1258DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916820PMC
February 2021

Integrated immune dynamics define correlates of COVID-19 severity and antibody responses.

Cell Rep Med 2021 Mar 5;2(3):100208. Epub 2021 Feb 5.

Department of Medicine, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

SARS-CoV-2 causes a spectrum of COVID-19 disease, the immunological basis of which remains ill defined. We analyzed 85 SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals at acute and/or convalescent time points, up to 102 days after symptom onset, quantifying 184 immunological parameters. Acute COVID-19 presented with high levels of IL-6, IL-18, and IL-10 and broad activation marked by the upregulation of CD38 on innate and adaptive lymphocytes and myeloid cells. Importantly, activated CXCR3cT1 cells in acute COVID-19 significantly correlate with and predict antibody levels and their avidity at convalescence as well as acute neutralization activity. Strikingly, intensive care unit (ICU) patients with severe COVID-19 display higher levels of soluble IL-6, IL-6R, and IL-18, and hyperactivation of innate, adaptive, and myeloid compartments than patients with moderate disease. Our analyses provide a comprehensive map of longitudinal immunological responses in COVID-19 patients and integrate key cellular pathways of complex immune networks underpinning severe COVID-19, providing important insights into potential biomarkers and immunotherapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100208DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7862905PMC
March 2021

Suboptimal SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8 T cell response associated with the prominent HLA-A*02:01 phenotype.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 09 10;117(39):24384-24391. Epub 2020 Sep 10.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia;

An improved understanding of human T cell-mediated immunity in COVID-19 is important for optimizing therapeutic and vaccine strategies. Experience with influenza shows that infection primes CD8 T cell memory to peptides presented by common HLA types like HLA-A2, which enhances recovery and diminishes clinical severity upon reinfection. Stimulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells from COVID-19 convalescent patients with overlapping peptides from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) led to the clonal expansion of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8 and CD4 T cells in vitro, with CD4 T cells being robust. We identified two HLA-A*02:01-restricted SARS-CoV-2-specfic CD8 T cell epitopes, A2/S and A2/Orf1ab Using peptide-HLA tetramer enrichment, direct ex vivo assessment of A2/SCD8 and A2/Orf1abCD8 populations indicated that A2/SCD8 T cells were detected at comparable frequencies (∼1.3 × 10) in acute and convalescent HLA-A*02:01 patients. These frequencies were higher than those found in uninfected HLA-A*02:01 donors (∼2.5 × 10), but low when compared to frequencies for influenza-specific (A2/M1) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific (A2/BMLF) (∼1.38 × 10) populations. Phenotyping A2/SCD8 T cells from COVID-19 convalescents ex vivo showed that A2/SCD8 T cells were predominantly negative for CD38, HLA-DR, PD-1, and CD71 activation markers, although the majority of total CD8 T cells expressed granzymes and/or perforin. Furthermore, the bias toward naïve, stem cell memory and central memory A2/SCD8 T cells rather than effector memory populations suggests that SARS-CoV-2 infection may be compromising CD8 T cell activation. Priming with appropriate vaccines may thus be beneficial for optimizing CD8 T cell immunity in COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2015486117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7533701PMC
September 2020

A Shared TCR Bias toward an Immunogenic EBV Epitope Dominates in HLA-B*07:02-Expressing Individuals.

J Immunol 2020 09 19;205(6):1524-1534. Epub 2020 Aug 19.

Department of Medicine, Monash University, Central Clinical School, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia;

EBV is one of the most common viruses found in humans and is prototypic of a persistent viral infection characterized by periods of latency. Across many HLA class I molecules, the latent-specific CD8 T cell response is focused on epitopes derived from the EBNA-3 protein family. In the case of HLA-B*07:02 restriction, a highly frequent class I allele, the T cell response is dominated by an epitope spanning residues 379-387 of EBNA-3 (RPPIFIRRL [EBV]). However, little is known about either the TCR repertoire specific for this epitope or the molecular basis for this observed immunodominance. The EBV CD8 T cell response was common among both EBV-seropositive HLA-B*07:02 healthy and immunocompromised individuals. Similar TCRs were identified in EBV-specific CD8 T cell repertoires across multiple HLA-B7 individuals, indicating a shared Ag-driven bias in TCR usage. In particular, TRBV4-1 and TRAV38 usage was observed in five out of six individuals studied. In this study, we report the crystal structure of a TRBV4-1 TCR-HLA-B*07:02/EBV complex, which provides a molecular basis for the observed TRBV4-1 bias. These findings enhance our understanding of the CD8 T cell response toward a common EBV determinant in HLA-B*07:02 individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.2000249DOI Listing
September 2020

Innate and adaptive immunity toward influenza B viruses.

Future Microbiol 2020 07 19;15:1045-1058. Epub 2020 Aug 19.

Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Melbourne, at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection & Immunity, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.

Despite annual vaccination, influenza B viruses (IBV) cause significant disease with substantial health and socio-economic impacts. Novel vaccination strategies inducing broadly protective and long-lasting immunity across IBV lineages are needed. However, as immune responses toward IBV are largely understudied, host-virus interactions and protective immune mechanisms need to be defined to rationally design such vaccines. Here, we summarize recent advances in our understanding of immunological mechanisms underpinning protection from IBV. We discuss how innate antiviral host factors inhibit IBV replication and the ways by which IBV escapes such restriction. We review the specificity of broadly cross-reactive antibodies and universal T cells, and the mechanisms by which they mediate protection. We highlight important knowledge gaps needing to be addressed to design improved IBV vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/fmb-2019-0340DOI Listing
July 2020

Viral burden, inflammatory milieu and CD8 T-cell responses to influenza virus in a second-generation thiazolide (RM-5061) and oseltamivir combination therapy study.

Influenza Other Respir Viruses 2020 11 25;14(6):678-687. Epub 2020 Jun 25.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Background: Influenza viruses cause significant morbidity and mortality, especially in young children, elderly, pregnant women and individuals with co-morbidities. Patients with severe influenza disease are typically treated with one neuraminidase inhibitor, oseltamivir or zanamivir. These antivirals need to be taken early to be most effective and often lead to the emergence of drug resistance and/or decreased drug susceptibility. Combining oseltamivir with another antiviral with an alternative mode of action has the potential to improve clinical effectiveness and reduce drug resistance.

Methods: In this study, we utilized a host-targeting molecule RM-5061, a second-generation thiazolide, in combination with oseltamivir to determine whether these compounds could reduce viral burden and understand their effects on the immune response to influenza virus infection in mice, compared with either monotherapy or placebo.

Results: The combination of RM-5061 and OST administered for 5 days after influenza infection reduced viral burden at day 5 post-infection, when compared to placebo and RM-5061 monotherapy, but was not significantly different from oseltamivir monotherapy. The inflammatory cytokine milieu was also reduced in animals which received a combination therapy when compared to RM-5061 and placebo-treated animals. Antiviral treatment in all groups led to a reduction in CD8 T-cell responses in the BAL when compared to placebo.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first time a combination of a host-targeting compound, RM-5061, and neuraminidase inhibitor, OST, has been tested in vivo. This antiviral combination was safe in mice and led to reduced inflammatory responses following viral infection when compared to untreated animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/irv.12776DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7578329PMC
November 2020

HA-Dependent Tropism of H5N1 and H7N9 Influenza Viruses to Human Endothelial Cells Is Determined by Reduced Stability of the HA, Which Allows the Virus To Cope with Inefficient Endosomal Acidification and Constitutively Expressed IFITM3.

J Virol 2019 12 12;94(1). Epub 2019 Dec 12.

Institute of Virology, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany

Previous studies revealed that certain avian influenza A viruses (IAVs), including zoonotic H5N1 and H7N9 IAVs, infect cultured human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HULEC) more efficiently than other IAVs and that tropism to HULEC is determined by viral hemagglutinin (HA). To characterize mechanisms of HA-mediated endotheliotropism, we used 2:6 recombinant IAVs harboring HAs from distinctive avian and human viruses and found that efficient infection of HULEC correlated with low conformational stability of the HA. We next studied effects on viral infectivity of single-point amino acid substitutions in the HA of 2:6 recombinant virus A/Vietnam/1203/2004-PR8 (H5N1). Substitutions H8Q, H103Y, T315I, and K58I (K58I in the HA2 subunit), which increased stability of the HA, markedly reduced viral infectivity for HULEC, whereas substitutions K189N and K218Q, which altered typical H5N1 virus-like receptor specificity and reduced binding avidity of the HA, led to only marginal reduction of infectivity. None of these substitutions affected virus infection in MDCK cells. We confirmed the previous observation of elevated basal expression of IFITM3 protein in HULEC and found that endosomal acidification is less efficient in HULEC than in MDCK cells. In accord with these findings, counteraction of IFITM3-mediated restriction by amphotericin B and reduction of endosomal pH by moderate acidification of the extracellular medium enhanced infectivity of viruses with stable HA for HULEC without significant effect on infectivity for MDCK cells. Collectively, our results indicate that relatively high pH optimum of fusion of the HA of zoonotic H5N1 and H7N9 IAVs allows them to overcome antiviral effects of inefficient endosomal acidification and IFITM3 in human endothelial cells. Receptor specificity of the HA of IAVs is known to be a critical determinant of viral cell tropism. Here, we show that fusion properties of the HA may also play a key role in the tropism. Thus, we demonstrate that IAVs having a relatively low pH optimum of fusion cannot efficiently infect human endothelial cells owing to their relatively high endosomal pH and increased expression of fusion-inhibiting IFITM3 protein. These restrictions can be overcome by IAVs with elevated pH of fusion, such as zoonotic H5N1 and H7N9. Our results illustrate that the infectivity of IAVs depends on an interplay between HA conformational stability, endosomal acidification and IFITM3 expression in target cells, and the extracellular pH. Given significant variation of levels of HA stability among animal, human, and zoonotic IAVs, our findings prompt further studies on the fusion-dependent tropism of IAVs to different cell types in humans and its role in viral host range and pathogenicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01223-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6912096PMC
December 2019

Recalling the Future: Immunological Memory Toward Unpredictable Influenza Viruses.

Front Immunol 2019 2;10:1400. Epub 2019 Jul 2.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Persistent and durable immunological memory forms the basis of any successful vaccination protocol. Generation of pre-existing memory B cell and T cell pools is thus the key for maintaining protective immunity to seasonal, pandemic and avian influenza viruses. Long-lived antibody secreting cells (ASCs) are responsible for maintaining antibody levels in peripheral blood. Generated with CD4 T help after naïve B cell precursors encounter their cognate antigen, the linked processes of differentiation (including Ig class switching) and proliferation also give rise to memory B cells, which then can change rapidly to ASC status after subsequent influenza encounters. Given that influenza viruses evolve rapidly as a consequence of antibody-driven mutational change (antigenic drift), the current influenza vaccines need to be reformulated frequently and annual vaccination is recommended. Without that process of regular renewal, they provide little protection against "drifted" (particularly H3N2) variants and are mainly ineffective when a novel pandemic (2009 A/H1N1 "swine" flu) strain suddenly emerges. Such limitation of antibody-mediated protection might be circumvented, at least in part, by adding a novel vaccine component that promotes cross-reactive CD8 T cells specific for conserved viral peptides, presented by widely distributed HLA types. Such "memory" cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) can rapidly be recalled to CTL effector status. Here, we review how B cells and follicular T cells are elicited following influenza vaccination and how they survive into a long-term memory. We describe how CD8 CTL memory is established following influenza virus infection, and how a robust CTL recall response can lead to more rapid virus elimination by destroying virus-infected cells, and recovery. Exploiting long-term, cross-reactive CTL against the continuously evolving and unpredictable influenza viruses provides a possible mechanism for preventing a disastrous pandemic comparable to the 1918-1919 H1N1 "Spanish flu," which killed more than 50 million people worldwide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.01400DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6614380PMC
July 2020

Limited Phenotypic and Functional Plasticity of Influenza Virus-Specific Memory CD8 T Cells during Activation in an Alternative Cytokine Environment.

J Immunol 2018 12 26;201(11):3282-3293. Epub 2018 Oct 26.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia

Naive CD8 T cells show phenotypic, functional, and epigenetic plasticity, enabling differentiation into distinct cellular states. However, whether memory CD8 T cells demonstrate similar flexibility upon recall is poorly understood. We investigated the potential of influenza A virus (IAV)-specific memory CD8 T cells from mice to alter their phenotype and function in response to reactivation in the presence of IL-4 and anti-IFN-γ Ab (type 2 conditions). Compared with naive CD8 T cells, only a small proportion of IAV-specific memory T cells exhibited phenotypic and functional plasticity after clonal activation under type 2 conditions. The potential for modulation of cell-surface phenotype (CD8α expression) was associated with specific epigenetic changes at the locus, was greater in central memory T cells than effector memory T cells, and was observed in endogenous memory cells of two TCR specificities. Using a novel technique for intracellular cytokine staining of small clonal populations, we showed that IAV-specific memory CD8 T cells reactivated under type 2 conditions displayed robust IFN-γ expression and, unlike naive CD8 T cells activated under type 2 conditions, produced little IL-4 protein. Secondary activation of memory cells under type 2 conditions increased GATA-3 levels with minimal change in T-bet levels. These data suggest that a small population of memory cells, especially central memory T cells, exhibits plasticity; however, most IAV-specific memory CD8 T cells resist reprogramming upon reactivation and retain the functional state established during priming.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1701672DOI Listing
December 2018

pH Optimum of Hemagglutinin-Mediated Membrane Fusion Determines Sensitivity of Influenza A Viruses to the Interferon-Induced Antiviral State and IFITMs.

J Virol 2017 06 12;91(11). Epub 2017 May 12.

Institute of Virology, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany

The replication and pathogenicity of influenza A viruses (IAVs) critically depend on their ability to tolerate the antiviral interferon (IFN) response. To determine a potential role for the IAV hemagglutinin (HA) in viral sensitivity to IFN, we studied the restriction of IAV infection in IFN-β-treated human epithelial cells by using 2:6 recombinant IAVs that shared six gene segments of A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 virus (PR8) and contained HAs and neuraminidases of representative avian, human, and zoonotic H5N1 and H7N9 viruses. In A549 and Calu-3 cells, viruses displaying a higher pH optimum of HA-mediated membrane fusion, H5N1-PR8 and H7N9-PR8, were less sensitive to the IFN-induced antiviral state than their counterparts with HAs from duck and human viruses, which fused at a lower pH. The association between a high pH optimum of fusion and reduced IFN sensitivity was confirmed by using HA point mutants of A/Hong Kong/1/1968-PR8 that differed solely by their fusion properties. Furthermore, similar effects of the viral fusion pH on IFN sensitivity were observed in experiments with (i) primary human type II alveolar epithelial cells and differentiated cultures of human airway epithelial cells, (ii) nonrecombinant zoonotic and pandemic IAVs, and (iii) preparations of IFN-α and IFN-λ1. A higher pH of membrane fusion and reduced sensitivity to IFN correlated with lower restriction of the viruses in MDCK cells stably expressing the IFN-inducible transmembrane proteins IFITM2 and IFITM3, which are known to inhibit viral fusion. Our results reveal that the pH optimum of HA-driven membrane fusion of IAVs is a determinant of their sensitivity to IFN and IFITM proteins. The IFN system constitutes an important innate defense against viral infection. Substantial information is available on how IAVs avoid detection by sensors of the IFN system and disable IFN signaling pathways. Much less is known about the ability of IAVs to tolerate the antiviral activity of IFN-induced cellular proteins. The IFN-induced proteins of the IFITM family block IAV entry into target cells and can restrict viral spread and pathogenicity. Here we show for the first time that the sensitivity of IAVs to the IFN-induced antiviral state and IFITM2 and IFITM3 proteins depends on the pH value at which the viral HA undergoes a conformational transition and mediates membrane fusion. Our data imply that the high pH optimum of membrane fusion typical of zoonotic IAVs of gallinaceous poultry, such as H5N1 and H7N9, may contribute to their enhanced virulence in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00246-17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5432869PMC
June 2017