Publications by authors named "Shirin Strohmeier"

34 Publications

Introduction of Two Prolines and Removal of the Polybasic Cleavage Site Lead to Higher Efficacy of a Recombinant Spike-Based SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine in the Mouse Model.

mBio 2021 03 2;12(2). Epub 2021 Mar 2.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA

The spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified as the prime target for vaccine development. The spike protein mediates both binding to host cells and membrane fusion and is also so far the only known viral target of neutralizing antibodies. Coronavirus spike proteins are large trimers that are relatively unstable, a feature that might be enhanced by the presence of a polybasic cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2 spike. Exchange of K986 and V987 for prolines has been shown to stabilize the trimers of SARS-CoV-1 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike proteins. Here, we test multiple versions of a soluble spike protein for their immunogenicity and protective effect against SARS-CoV-2 challenge in a mouse model that transiently expresses human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 via adenovirus transduction. Variants tested include spike proteins with a deleted polybasic cleavage site, proline mutations, or a combination thereof, besides the wild-type protein. While all versions of the protein were able to induce neutralizing antibodies, only the antigen with both a deleted cleavage site and the K986P and V987P (PP) mutations completely protected from challenge in this mouse model. A vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 is urgently needed. A better understanding of antigen design and attributes that vaccine candidates need to have to induce protective immunity is of high importance. The data presented here validate the choice of antigens that contain the PP mutations and suggest that deletion of the polybasic cleavage site may lead to a further-optimized design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02648-20DOI Listing
March 2021

Influenza hemagglutinin-specific IgA Fc-effector functionality is restricted to stalk epitopes.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Feb;118(8)

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029;

In this study, we utilized a panel of human immunoglobulin (Ig) IgA monoclonal antibodies isolated from the plasmablasts of eight donors after 2014/2015 influenza virus vaccination (Fluarix) to study the binding and functional specificities of this isotype. In this cohort, isolated IgA monoclonal antibodies were primarily elicited against the hemagglutinin protein of the H1N1 component of the vaccine. To compare effector functionalities, an H1-specific subset of antibodies targeting distinct epitopes were expressed as monomeric, dimeric, or secretory IgA, as well as in an IgG1 backbone. When expressed with an IgG Fc domain, all antibodies elicited Fc-effector activity in a primary polymorphonuclear cell-based assay which differs from previous observations that found only stalk-specific antibodies activate the low-affinity FcγRIIIa. However, when expressed with IgA Fc domains, only antibodies targeting the stalk domain showed Fc-effector activity in line with these previous findings. To identify the cause of this discrepancy, we then confirmed that IgG signaling through the high-affinity FcγI receptor was not restricted to stalk epitopes. Since no corresponding high-affinity Fcα receptor exists, the IgA repertoire may therefore be limited to stalk-specific epitopes in the context of Fc receptor signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2018102118DOI Listing
February 2021

Sterilizing Immunity against SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Mice by a Single-Shot and Lipid Amphiphile Imidazoquinoline TLR7/8 Agonist-Adjuvanted Recombinant Spike Protein Vaccine.

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2021 Jan 19. Epub 2021 Jan 19.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Microbiology, UNITED STATES.

The search for vaccines that protect from severe morbidity and mortality as a result of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a race against the clock and the virus. Here we describe the use of a novel amphiphilic imidazoquinoline (IMDQ-PEG-CHOL) TLR7/8 adjuvant, consisting of an imidazoquinoline conjugated to the chain end of a cholesterol-poly(ethylene glycol) macromolecular amphiphile. This amphiphile is water soluble and exhibits massive translocation to lymph nodes upon local administration, likely through binding to albumin, affording localized innate immune activation and a dramatic reduction in systemic inflammation. The adjuvanticity of IMDQ-PEG-CHOL was validated in the context of a licensed vaccine setting (i.e. the quadrivalent influenza vaccine) and an experimental trimeric recombinant SARS-CoV-2 spike protein vaccine, showing robust IgG2a and IgG1 antibody titers in mice that could neutralize viral infection in vitro and in vivo in a mouse model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.202015362DOI Listing
January 2021

Chimeric Hemagglutinin-Based Live-Attenuated Vaccines Confer Durable Protective Immunity against Influenza A Viruses in a Preclinical Ferret Model.

Vaccines (Basel) 2021 Jan 11;9(1). Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Epidemic or pandemic influenza can annually cause significant morbidity and mortality in humans. We developed novel chimeric hemagglutinin (cHA)-based universal influenza virus vaccines, which contain a conserved HA stalk domain from a 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) strain combined with globular head domains from avian influenza A viruses. Our previous reports demonstrated that prime-boost sequential immunizations induced robust antibody responses directed toward the conserved HA stalk domain in ferrets. Herein, we further followed vaccinated animals for one year to compare the efficacy and durability of these vaccines in the preclinical ferret model of influenza. Although all cHA-based immunization regimens induced durable HA stalk-specific and heterosubtypic antibody responses in ferrets, sequential immunization with live-attenuated influenza virus vaccines (LAIV-LAIV) conferred the best protection against upper respiratory tract infection by a pH1N1 influenza A virus. The findings from this study suggest that our sequential immunization strategy for a cHA-based universal influenza virus vaccine provides durable protective humoral and cellular immunity against influenza virus infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines9010040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7826668PMC
January 2021

CD4+ follicular regulatory T cells optimize the influenza virus-specific B cell response.

J Exp Med 2021 Mar;218(3)

Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.

CD4+ follicular regulatory T (Tfr) cells control B cell responses through the modulation of follicular helper T (Tfh) cells and germinal center development while suppressing autoreactivity; however, their role in the regulation of productive germinal center B cell responses and humoral memory is incompletely defined. We show that Tfr cells promote antigen-specific germinal center B cell responses upon influenza virus infection. Following viral challenge, we found that Tfr cells are necessary for robust generation of virus-specific, long-lived plasma cells, antibody production against both hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), the two major influenza virus glycoproteins, and appropriate regulation of the BCR repertoire. To further investigate the functional relevance of Tfr cells during viral challenge, we used a sequential immunization model with repeated exposure of antigenically partially conserved strains of influenza viruses, revealing that Tfr cells promote recall antibody responses against the conserved HA stalk region. Thus, Tfr cells promote antigen-specific B cell responses and are essential for the development of long-term humoral memory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20200547DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7748821PMC
March 2021

H1 Hemagglutinin Priming Provides Long-Lasting Heterosubtypic Immunity against H5N1 Challenge in the Mouse Model.

mBio 2020 12 15;11(6). Epub 2020 Dec 15.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA

Influenza virus infections leave a signature of immune memory that influences future responses to infections with antigenically related strains. It has been hypothesized that the first exposure in life to H1N1 influenza virus imprints the host immune system, potentially resulting in protection from severe infection with H5N1 later in life through hemagglutinin (HA) stalk-specific antibodies. To study the specific role of the HA on protection against infection without interference of cellular immunity or humoral antineuraminidase immunity, we primed mice with influenza B viruses that express an H1 HA (group 1; B-H1), H3 HA (group 2; B-H3), or wild-type influenza B virus and subsequently challenged them at different time points with an H5N1 virus. Weight loss and survival monitoring showed that the B-H1-primed mice exhibited better protection against H5N1 compared to the control mice. Analysis of H5-specific serum IgG, before and 21 days after H5N1 challenge, evidenced the presence of anti-stalk H5 cross-reactive antibodies in the BH-1 group that were boosted by H5N1 infection. The increased immune responses and protection induced by priming with the B-H1 viruses lasted at least up to 1 year. Hence, a single HA priming based on natural infection induces long-lasting protective immunity against heterosubtypic strains from the same phylogenetic HA group in mice. This study gives mechanistic support to the earlier finding in humans that imprinting by H1 HA protects against H5N1 infections and that highly conserved regions on the HA, like the stalk, are involved in this phenomenon. Current studies point out that an HA-mediated immunological imprint is established early in life during the first exposure to influenza viruses, which critically shapes and biases future immune responses. However, studies in animal models are limited and the precise mechanisms of this phenomenon are under investigation. Studies that explore the effect of HA-specific immunity induced during natural infection on future exposures to heterosubtypic influenza strains are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02090-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7773984PMC
December 2020

Pre-existing Hemagglutinin Stalk Antibodies Correlate with Protection of Lower Respiratory Symptoms in Flu-Infected Transplant Patients.

Cell Rep Med 2020 Nov 3;1(8):100130. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Clinical Unit of Infectious Diseases, Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine of Seville, Virgen del Rocío University Hospital/CSIC/University of Seville, Seville, Spain.

Hemagglutination-inhibitory antibodies are usually highly strain specific with little effect on infection with drifted or shifted strains. The significance of broadly cross-reactive non-HAI anti-influenza antibodies against conserved domains of virus glycoproteins, such as the hemagglutinin (HA) stalk, is of great interest. We characterize a cohort of 40 H1N1pmd09 influenza-infected patients and identify lower respiratory symptoms (LRSs) as a predictor for development of pneumonia. A binomial logistic regression of log10 pre-existing antibody values shows that the probability of LRS occurrence decreased with increased anti-HA full-length and stalk antibody ELISA titers. However, a multilevel logistic regression model adjusted by other potential serocorrelates demonstrates that only antibodies directed against the stalk of HA correlate with protection from lower respiratory infection, limiting disease progression. Our predictive model indicates that a threshold of protective immunity based on broadly cross-reactive HA stalk antibodies could be feasible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2020.100130DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7691380PMC
November 2020

Female-biased effects of aging on a chimeric hemagglutinin stalk-based universal influenza virus vaccine in mice.

Vaccine 2020 Dec 5. Epub 2020 Dec 5.

W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. Electronic address:

To determine if biological sex and age intersect to affect universal influenza vaccine-induced immunity, adult and aged male and female C57BL/6 mice were sequentially immunized with a chimeric-hemagglutinin (cHA) stalk-based H1 vaccine. Adult mice developed greater quantity and quality of H1-stalk antibodies, that were more cross-reactive with other group 1, but not group 2, influenza viruses, than aged mice. The vaccine did not induce neutralizing or hemagglutination inhibition antibodies, but rather antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, which was greater in adult than aged mice. Vaccinated adult mice were better protected than aged mice after challenge with 2009 H1N1 virus, experiencing less morbidity and having lower pulmonary virus titers. The age-associated decline in immunity and protection was consistently greater among females than males, with the reduction in immunity and protection for aged as compared with adult females often being the sole comparison driving the overall age-associated significant differences. The age-associated reduction in stalk-based immunity in females was not, however, associated with changes in estradiol. To determine if the better antibodies in adults could be utilized to protect aged mice, serum was passively transferred from vaccinated adult mice into naïve sex-matched aged mice. Even with transferred serum from young adult mice, aged females still suffered greater morbidity than aged males. These data suggest there are sex-dependent effects of aging on cHA-based universal influenza virus vaccine-induced immunity that cannot be reversed through transfer of serum from young animals. The lack of consideration of sex-specific effects of aging on immunity could hinder efforts toward universal vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.11.057DOI Listing
December 2020

A chimeric hemagglutinin-based universal influenza virus vaccine approach induces broad and long-lasting immunity in a randomized, placebo-controlled phase I trial.

Nat Med 2021 01 7;27(1):106-114. Epub 2020 Dec 7.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.

Seasonal influenza viruses constantly change through antigenic drift and the emergence of pandemic influenza viruses through antigenic shift is unpredictable. Conventional influenza virus vaccines induce strain-specific neutralizing antibodies against the variable immunodominant globular head domain of the viral hemagglutinin protein. This necessitates frequent re-formulation of vaccines and handicaps pandemic preparedness. In this completed, observer-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled phase I trial (NCT03300050), safety and immunogenicity of chimeric hemagglutinin-based vaccines were tested in healthy, 18-39-year-old US adults. The study aimed to test the safety and ability of the vaccines to elicit broadly cross-reactive antibodies against the hemagglutinin stalk domain. Participants were enrolled into five groups to receive vaccinations with live-attenuated followed by AS03-adjuvanted inactivated vaccine (n = 20), live-attenuated followed by inactivated vaccine (n = 15), twice AS03-adjuvanted inactivated vaccine (n = 16) or placebo (n = 5, intranasal followed by intramuscular; n = 10, twice intramuscular) 3 months apart. Vaccination was found to be safe and induced a broad, strong, durable and functional immune response targeting the conserved, immunosubdominant stalk of the hemagglutinin. The results suggest that chimeric hemagglutinins have the potential to be developed as universal vaccines that protect broadly against influenza viruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-1118-7DOI Listing
January 2021

Development and Assessment of a Pooled Serum as Candidate Standard to Measure Influenza A Virus Group 1 Hemagglutinin Stalk-Reactive Antibodies.

Vaccines (Basel) 2020 Nov 9;8(4). Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1124, New York, NY 10029, USA.

The stalk domain of the hemagglutinin has been identified as a target for induction of protective antibody responses due to its high degree of conservation among numerous influenza subtypes and strains. However, current assays to measure stalk-based immunity are not standardized. Hence, harmonization of assay readouts would help to compare experiments conducted in different laboratories and increase confidence in results. Here, serum samples from healthy individuals ( = 110) were screened using a chimeric cH6/1 hemagglutinin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that measures stalk-reactive antibodies. We identified samples with moderate to high IgG anti-stalk antibody levels. Likewise, screening of the samples using the mini-hemagglutinin (HA) headless construct #4900 and analysis of the correlation between the two assays confirmed the presence and specificity of anti-stalk antibodies. Additionally, samples were characterized by a cH6/1N5 virus-based neutralization assay, an antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) assay, and competition ELISAs, using the stalk-reactive monoclonal antibodies KB2 (mouse) and CR9114 (human). A "pooled serum" (PS) consisting of a mixture of selected serum samples was generated. The PS exhibited high levels of stalk-reactive antibodies, had a cH6/1N5-based neutralization titer of 320, and contained high levels of stalk-specific antibodies with ADCC activity. The PS, along with blinded samples of varying anti-stalk antibody titers, was distributed to multiple collaborators worldwide in a pilot collaborative study. The samples were subjected to different assays available in the different laboratories, to measure either binding or functional properties of the stalk-reactive antibodies contained in the serum. Results from binding and neutralization assays were analyzed to determine whether use of the PS as a standard could lead to better agreement between laboratories. The work presented here points the way towards the development of a serum standard for antibodies to the HA stalk domain of phylogenetic group 1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8040666DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7712758PMC
November 2020

Robust neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 infection persist for months.

Science 2020 12 28;370(6521):1227-1230. Epub 2020 Oct 28.

Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a global pandemic with millions infected and more than 1 million fatalities. Questions regarding the robustness, functionality, and longevity of the antibody response to the virus remain unanswered. Here, on the basis of a dataset of 30,082 individuals screened at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, we report that the vast majority of infected individuals with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 experience robust immunoglobulin G antibody responses against the viral spike protein. We also show that titers are relatively stable for at least a period of about 5 months and that anti-spike binding titers significantly correlate with neutralization of authentic SARS-CoV-2. Our data suggest that more than 90% of seroconverters make detectable neutralizing antibody responses. These titers remain relatively stable for several months after infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abd7728DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7810037PMC
December 2020

Sterilizing Immunity against SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Mice by a Single-Shot and Modified Imidazoquinoline TLR7/8 Agonist-Adjuvanted Recombinant Spike Protein Vaccine.

bioRxiv 2020 Oct 23. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY, USA.

The search for vaccines that protect from severe morbidity and mortality as a result of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a race against the clock and the virus. Several vaccine candidates are currently being tested in the clinic. Inactivated virus and recombinant protein vaccines can be safe options but may require adjuvants to induce robust immune responses efficiently. In this work we describe the use of a novel amphiphilic imidazoquinoline (IMDQ-PEG-CHOL) TLR7/8 adjuvant, consisting of an imidazoquinoline conjugated to the chain end of a cholesterol-poly(ethylene glycol) macromolecular amphiphile). This amphiphile is water soluble and exhibits massive translocation to lymph nodes upon local administration, likely through binding to albumin. IMDQ-PEG-CHOL is used to induce a protective immune response against SARS-CoV-2 after single vaccination with trimeric recombinant SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in the BALB/c mouse model. Inclusion of amphiphilic IMDQ-PEG-CHOL in the SARS-CoV-2 spike vaccine formulation resulted in enhanced immune cell recruitment and activation in the draining lymph node. IMDQ-PEG-CHOL has a better safety profile compared to native soluble IMDQ as the former induces a more localized immune response upon local injection, preventing systemic inflammation. Moreover, IMDQ-PEG-CHOL adjuvanted vaccine induced enhanced ELISA and in vitro microneutralization titers, and a more balanced IgG2a/IgG1 response. To correlate vaccine responses with control of virus replication in vivo, vaccinated mice were challenged with SARS-CoV-2 virus after being sensitized by intranasal adenovirus-mediated expression of the human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) gene. Animals vaccinated with trimeric recombinant spike protein vaccine without adjuvant had lung virus titers comparable to non-vaccinated control mice, whereas animals vaccinated with IMDQ-PEG-CHOL-adjuvanted vaccine controlled viral replication and infectious viruses could not be recovered from their lungs at day 4 post infection. In order to test whether IMDQ-PEG-CHOL could also be used to adjuvant vaccines currently licensed for use in humans, proof of concept was also provided by using the same IMDQ-PEG-CHOL to adjuvant human quadrivalent inactivated influenza virus split vaccine, which resulted in enhanced hemagglutination inhibition titers and a more balanced IgG2a/IgG1 antibody response. Enhanced influenza vaccine responses correlated with better virus control when mice were given a lethal influenza virus challenge. Our results underscore the potential use of IMDQ-PEG-CHOL as an adjuvant to achieve protection after single immunization with recombinant protein and inactivated virus vaccines against respiratory viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.23.344085DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7587831PMC
October 2020

Comparison of transgenic and adenovirus hACE2 mouse models for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Emerg Microbes Infect 2020 Dec;9(1):2433-2445

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently causing a worldwide pandemic with high morbidity and mortality. Development of animal models that recapitulate important aspects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is critical for the evaluation of vaccines and antivirals, and understanding disease pathogenesis. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to use the same entry receptor as SARS-CoV-1, human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) [1-3]. Due to amino acid differences between murine and hACE2, inbred mouse strains fail to support high titer viral replication of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Therefore, a number of transgenic and knock-in mouse models, as well as viral vector-mediated hACE2 delivery systems have been developed. Here we compared the K18-hACE2 transgenic model to adenovirus-mediated delivery of hACE2 to the mouse lung. We show that K18-hACE2 mice replicate virus to high titers in the nasal turbinates, lung and brain, with high lethality, and cytokine/chemokine production. In contrast, adenovirus-mediated delivery results in viral replication to lower titers limited to the nasal turbinates and lung, and no clinical signs of infection. The K18-hACE2 model provides a stringent model for testing vaccines and antivirals, whereas the adenovirus delivery system has the flexibility to be used across multiple genetic backgrounds and modified mouse strains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/22221751.2020.1838955DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7655046PMC
December 2020

Introduction of two prolines and removal of the polybasic cleavage site leads to optimal efficacy of a recombinant spike based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in the mouse model.

bioRxiv 2020 Sep 17. Epub 2020 Sep 17.

The spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified as the prime target for vaccine development. The spike protein mediates both binding to host cells and membrane fusion and is also so far the only known viral target of neutralizing antibodies. Coronavirus spike proteins are large trimers that are relatively instable, a feature that might be enhanced by the presence of a polybasic cleavage site in the SARS-CoV-2 spike. Exchange of K986 and V987 to prolines has been shown to stabilize the trimers of SARS-CoV-1 and the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus spikes. Here, we test multiple versions of a soluble spike protein for their immunogenicity and protective effect against SARS-CoV-2 challenge in a mouse model that transiently expresses human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 via adenovirus transduction. Variants tested include spike protein with a deleted polybasic cleavage site, the proline mutations, a combination thereof, as well as the wild type protein. While all versions of the protein were able to induce neutralizing antibodies, only the antigen with both a deleted cleavage site and the PP mutations completely protected from challenge in this mouse model.

Importance: A vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 is urgently needed. A better understanding of antigen design and attributes that vaccine candidates need to have to induce protective immunity is of high importance. The data presented here validates the choice of antigens that contain the PP mutation and suggests that deletion of the polybasic cleavage site could lead to a further optimized design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.09.16.300970DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7523111PMC
September 2020

Human Antibodies Targeting Influenza B Virus Neuraminidase Active Site Are Broadly Protective.

Immunity 2020 Oct 24;53(4):852-863.e7. Epub 2020 Sep 24.

Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA; Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA; The Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Center for Human Immunology & Immunotherapy Programs, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. Electronic address:

Influenza B virus (IBV) infections can cause severe disease in children and the elderly. Commonly used antivirals have lower clinical effectiveness against IBV compared to influenza A viruses (IAV). Neuraminidase (NA), the second major surface protein on the influenza virus, is emerging as a target of broadly protective antibodies that recognize the NA active site of IAVs. However, similarly broadly protective antibodies against IBV NA have not been identified. Here, we isolated and characterized human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that target IBV NA from an IBV-infected patient. Two mAbs displayed broad and potent capacity to inhibit IBV NA enzymatic activity, neutralize the virus in vitro, and protect against lethal IBV infection in mice in prophylactic and therapeutic settings. These mAbs inserted long CDR-H3 loops into the NA active site, engaging residues highly conserved among IBV NAs. These mAbs provide a blueprint for the development of improved vaccines and therapeutics against IBVs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2020.08.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7572813PMC
October 2020

Correctly folded - but not necessarily functional - influenza virus neuraminidase is required to induce protective antibody responses in mice.

Vaccine 2020 10 15;38(45):7129-7137. Epub 2020 Sep 15.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:

The influenza virus neuraminidase (NA) plays an integral role in the influenza virus life cycle through the release of virions from infected cells. NA-specific antibodies can impede virus replication by binding to the NA and blocking its enzymatic activity, providing significant protection from influenza-associated morbidity and mortality. NA included in current seasonal influenza virus vaccines exhibits low immunogenicity, potentially caused by compromised antigenic integrity during vaccine production. To determine how certain types of "stress" could influence the antigenicity of NA we performed a series of in vitro experiments where we treated NA with formalin, EDTA or heat and measured the impact of these treatments on NA enzymatic activity and structural integrity. We found that increasing concentrations of formalin or EDTA and increasing temperature abolished the enzymatic activity of both H1N1, H3N2, and influenza B purified viruses and recombinant NA proteins. However, formalin and EDTA treatment did not drastically affect conformational epitopes found on the NA, whereas heat treatment abolished conformational epitopes. We next performed a vaccination experiment, where mice were vaccinated with recombinant N2 NA treated with 0.3% formalin or 0.125 M EDTA (which both inactivated NA activity) were protected from virus challenge while animals vaccinated with heat treated NA were not. We next tested the protective effect of monomeric (no enzymatic activity) versus tetrameric (highly active) N1 NA. Again, only the tetrameric form protected mice from challenge while the monomeric form did not. Together, our data demonstrate that enzymatically active NA is not required to induce protective antibody responses as a vaccine, however a correctly folded NA is essential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.08.067DOI Listing
October 2020

Characterization of Novel Cross-Reactive Influenza B Virus Hemagglutinin Head Specific Antibodies That Lack Hemagglutination Inhibition Activity.

J Virol 2020 11 9;94(23). Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA

Humoral immune responses to influenza virus vaccines in elderly individuals are poorly adapted toward new antigenically drifted influenza virus strains. Instead, older individuals respond in an original antigenic sin fashion and produce much more cross-reactive but less potent antibodies. Here, we investigated four influenza B virus hemagglutinin (HA) head specific, hemagglutination inhibition-inactive monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) from elderly individuals. We found that they were broadly reactive within the B/Victoria/2/1987-like lineage, and two were highly cross-reactive with B/Yamagata/16/1988-like lineage viruses. The MAbs were found to be neutralizing, to utilize Fc effector functions, and to be protective against lethal viral challenge in a mouse model. In order to identify residues on the influenza B virus hemagglutinin interacting with the MAbs, we generated escape mutant viruses. Interestingly, escape from these MAbs led to numerous HA mutations within the head domain, including in the defined antigenic sites. We observed that each individual escape mutant virus was able to avoid neutralization by its respective MAb along with other MAbs in the panel, although in many cases binding activity was maintained. Point mutant viruses indicated that K90 is critical for the neutralization of two MAbs, while escape from the other two MAbs required a combination of mutations in the hemagglutinin. Three of four escape mutant viruses had increased lethality in the DBA2/J mouse model. Our work indicates that these cross-reactive antibodies have the potential to cause antigenic drift in the viral population by driving mutations that increase virus fitness. However, binding activity and cross-neutralization were maintained by a majority of antibodies in the panel, suggesting that this drift may not lead to escape from antibody-mediated protection. Understanding the immune response that older individuals mount to influenza virus vaccination and infection is critical in order to design better vaccines for this age group. Here, we show that older individuals make broadly neutralizing antibodies that have no hemagglutination-inhibiting activity and are less potent than strain-specific antibodies. These antibodies could drive viral escape from neutralization but did not result in escape from binding. Given their different mechanisms of action, they might retain protective activity even against escape variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01185-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7654279PMC
November 2020

Human germinal centres engage memory and naive B cells after influenza vaccination.

Nature 2020 10 31;586(7827):127-132. Epub 2020 Aug 31.

Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, USA.

Influenza viruses remain a major public health threat. Seasonal influenza vaccination in humans primarily stimulates pre-existing memory B cells, which differentiate into a transient wave of circulating antibody-secreting plasmablasts. This recall response contributes to 'original antigenic sin'-the selective increase of antibody species elicited by previous exposures to influenza virus antigens. It remains unclear whether such vaccination can also induce germinal centre reactions in the draining lymph nodes, where diversification and maturation of recruited B cells can occur. Here we used ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration to serially sample the draining lymph nodes and investigate the dynamics and specificity of germinal centre B cell responses after influenza vaccination in humans. Germinal centre B cells that bind to influenza vaccine could be detected as early as one week after vaccination. In three out of eight participants, we detected vaccine-binding germinal centre B cells up to nine weeks after vaccination. Between 12% and 88% of the responding germinal centre B cell clones overlapped with B cells detected among early circulating plasmablasts. These shared B cell clones had high frequencies of somatic hypermutation and encoded broadly cross-reactive monoclonal antibodies. By contrast, vaccine-induced B cell clones detected only in the germinal centre compartment exhibited significantly lower frequencies of somatic hypermutation and predominantly encoded strain-specific monoclonal antibodies, which suggests a naive B cell origin. Some of these strain-specific monoclonal antibodies recognized epitopes that were not targeted by the early plasmablast response. Thus, influenza virus vaccination in humans can elicit a germinal centre reaction that recruits B cell clones that can target new epitopes, thereby broadening the spectrum of vaccine-induced protective antibodies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2711-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7566073PMC
October 2020

A Single Immunization with Nucleoside-Modified mRNA Vaccines Elicits Strong Cellular and Humoral Immune Responses against SARS-CoV-2 in Mice.

Immunity 2020 10 30;53(4):724-732.e7. Epub 2020 Jul 30.

Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Electronic address:

SARS-CoV-2 infection has emerged as a serious global pandemic. Because of the high transmissibility of the virus and the high rate of morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19, developing effective and safe vaccines is a top research priority. Here, we provide a detailed evaluation of the immunogenicity of lipid nanoparticle-encapsulated, nucleoside-modified mRNA (mRNA-LNP) vaccines encoding the full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike protein or the spike receptor binding domain in mice. We demonstrate that a single dose of these vaccines induces strong type 1 CD4 and CD8 T cell responses, as well as long-lived plasma and memory B cell responses. Additionally, we detect robust and sustained neutralizing antibody responses and the antibodies elicited by nucleoside-modified mRNA vaccines do not show antibody-dependent enhancement of infection in vitro. Our findings suggest that the nucleoside-modified mRNA-LNP vaccine platform can induce robust immune responses and is a promising candidate to combat COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2020.07.019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7392193PMC
October 2020

Comparison of Transgenic and Adenovirus hACE2 Mouse Models for SARS-CoV-2 Infection.

bioRxiv 2020 Jul 6. Epub 2020 Jul 6.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently causing a worldwide pandemic with high morbidity and mortality. Development of animal models that recapitulate important aspects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is critical for the evaluation of vaccines and antivirals, and understanding disease pathogenesis. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to use the same entry receptor as SARS-CoV-1, human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2)(1-3). Due to amino acid differences between murine and hACE2, inbred mouse strains fail to support high titer viral replication of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Therefore, a number of transgenic and knock-in mouse models, as well as viral vector-mediated hACE2 delivery systems have been developed. Here we compared the K18-hACE2 transgenic model to adenovirus-mediated delivery of hACE2 to the mouse lung. We show that K18-hACE2 mice replicate virus to high titers in both the lung and brain leading to lethality. In contrast, adenovirus-mediated delivery results in viral replication to lower titers limited to the lung, and no clinical signs of infection with a challenge dose of 10 plaque forming units. The K18-hACE2 model provides a stringent model for testing the ability of vaccines and antivirals to protect against disease, whereas the adenovirus delivery system has the flexibility to be used across multiple genetic backgrounds and modified mouse strains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.07.06.190066DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7359525PMC
July 2020

An In Vitro Microneutralization Assay for SARS-CoV-2 Serology and Drug Screening.

Curr Protoc Microbiol 2020 09;58(1):e108

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in late 2019. Since then, the virus has spread globally and caused a pandemic. Assays that can measure the antiviral activity of antibodies or antiviral compounds are needed for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and drug development. Here, we describe in detail a microneutralization assay, which can be used to assess in a quantitative manner if antibodies or drugs can block entry and/or replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. © 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC. Basic Protocol 1: Microneutralization assay to test inhibition of virus by antibodies (purified antibodies or serum/plasma) Basic Protocol 2: Screening of anti-SARS-CoV-2 compounds in vitro Support Protocol: SARS-CoV-2 propagation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpmc.108DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7361222PMC
September 2020

Non-sterilizing, Infection-Permissive Vaccination With Inactivated Influenza Virus Vaccine Reshapes Subsequent Virus Infection-Induced Protective Heterosubtypic Immunity From Cellular to Humoral Cross-Reactive Immune Responses.

Front Immunol 2020 9;11:1166. Epub 2020 Jun 9.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, United States.

Conventional influenza vaccines aim at the induction of virus-neutralizing antibodies that provide with sterilizing immunity. However, influenza vaccination often confers protection from disease but not from infection. The impact of infection-permissive vaccination on the immune response elicited by subsequent influenza virus infection is not well-understood. Here, we investigated to what extent infection-permissive immunity, in contrast to virus-neutralizing immunity, provided by a trivalent inactivated virus vaccine (TIV) modulates disease and virus-induced host immune responses after sublethal vaccine-matching H1N1 infection in a mouse model. More than one TIV vaccination was needed to induce a serum HI titer and provide sterilizing immunity upon homologous virus infection. However, single TIV administration provided infection-permissive immunity, characterized by lower viral lung titers and faster recovery. Despite the presence of replicating virus, single TIV vaccination prevented induction of pro-inflammatory cyto- and chemokines, alveolar macrophage depletion as well as the establishment of lung-resident B and T cells after infection. To investigate virus infection-induced cross-protective heterosubtypic immune responses in vaccinated and unvaccinated animals, mice were re-infected with a lethal dose of H3N2 virus 4 weeks after H1N1 infection. Single TIV vaccination did not prevent H1N1 virus infection-induced heterosubtypic cross-protection, but shifted the mechanism of cross-protection from the cellular to the humoral branch of the immune system. These results suggest that suboptimal vaccination with conventional influenza vaccines may still positively modulate disease outcome after influenza virus infection, while promoting humoral heterosubtypic immunity after virus infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.01166DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7296151PMC
June 2020

A serological assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion in humans.

medRxiv 2020 Apr 16. Epub 2020 Apr 16.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.

SARS-Cov-2 (severe acute respiratory disease coronavirus 2), which causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19) was first detected in China in late 2019 and has since then caused a global pandemic. While molecular assays to directly detect the viral genetic material are available for the diagnosis of acute infection, we currently lack serological assays suitable to specifically detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Here we describe serological enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) that we developed using recombinant antigens derived from the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Using negative control samples representing pre-COVID 19 background immunity in the general adult population as well as samples from COVID19 patients, we demonstrate that these assays are sensitive and specific, allowing for screening and identification of COVID19 seroconverters using human plasma/serum as early as two days post COVID19 symptoms onset. Importantly, these assays do not require handling of infectious virus, can be adjusted to detect different antibody types and are amendable to scaling. Such serological assays are of critical importance to determine seroprevalence in a given population, define previous exposure and identify highly reactive human donors for the generation of convalescent serum as therapeutic. Sensitive and specific identification of coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 antibody titers may, in the future, also support screening of health care workers to identify those who are already immune and can be deployed to care for infected patients minimizing the risk of viral spread to colleagues and other patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.17.20037713DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7239062PMC
April 2020

Enhancing Neuraminidase Immunogenicity of Influenza A Viruses by Rewiring RNA Packaging Signals.

J Virol 2020 07 30;94(16). Epub 2020 Jul 30.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA

Humoral immune protection against influenza virus infection is mediated largely by antibodies against hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), the two major glycoproteins on the virus surface. While influenza virus vaccination efforts have focused mainly on HA, NA-based immunity has been shown to reduce disease severity and provide heterologous protection. Current seasonal vaccines do not elicit strong anti-NA responses-in part due to the immunodominance of the HA protein. Here, we demonstrate that by swapping the 5' and 3' terminal packaging signals of the HA and NA genomic segments, which contain the RNA promoters, we are able to rescue influenza viruses that express more NA and less HA. Vaccination with formalin-inactivated "rewired" viruses significantly enhances the anti-NA antibody response compared to vaccination with unmodified viruses. Passive transfer of sera from mice immunized with rewired virus vaccines shows better protection against influenza virus challenge. Our results provide evidence that the immunodominance of HA stems in part from its abundance on the viral surface, and that rewiring viral packaging signals-thereby increasing the NA content on viral particles-is a viable strategy for improving the immunogenicity of NA in an influenza virus vaccine. Influenza virus infections are a major source of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Increasing evidence highlights neuraminidase as a potential vaccination target. This report demonstrates the efficacy of rewiring influenza virus packaging signals for creating vaccines with more neuraminidase content which provide better neuraminidase (NA)-based protection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00742-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7394900PMC
July 2020

A serological assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion in humans.

Nat Med 2020 07 12;26(7):1033-1036. Epub 2020 May 12.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.

Here, we describe a serological enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the screening and identification of human SARS-CoV-2 seroconverters. This assay does not require the handling of infectious virus, can be adjusted to detect different antibody types in serum and plasma and is amenable to scaling. Serological assays are of critical importance to help define previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in populations, identify highly reactive human donors for convalescent plasma therapy and investigate correlates of protection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0913-5DOI Listing
July 2020

SARS-CoV-2 Seroconversion in Humans: A Detailed Protocol for a Serological Assay, Antigen Production, and Test Setup.

Curr Protoc Microbiol 2020 06;57(1):e100

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.

In late 2019, cases of atypical pneumonia were detected in China. The etiological agent was quickly identified as a betacoronavirus (named SARS-CoV-2), which has since caused a pandemic. Several methods allowing for the specific detection of viral nucleic acids have been established, but these only allow detection of the virus during a short period of time, generally during acute infection. Serological assays are urgently needed to conduct serosurveys, to understand the antibody responses mounted in response to the virus, and to identify individuals who are potentially immune to re-infection. Here we describe a detailed protocol for expression of antigens derived from the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 that can serve as a substrate for immunological assays, as well as a two-stage serological enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). These assays can be used for research studies and for testing in clinical laboratories. © 2020 The Authors. Basic Protocol 1: Mammalian cell transfection and protein purification Basic Protocol 2: A two-stage ELISA for high-throughput screening of human serum samples for antibodies binding to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpmc.100DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235504PMC
June 2020

Influenza Virus Infection Induces a Narrow Antibody Response in Children but a Broad Recall Response in Adults.

mBio 2020 01 21;11(1). Epub 2020 Jan 21.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA

In contrast to influenza virus vaccination, natural infection induces long-lived and relatively broad immune responses. However, many aspects of the antibody response to natural infection are not well understood. Here, we assessed the immune response after H1N1 influenza virus infection in children and adults in a Nicaraguan household transmission study using an influenza virus protein microarray (IVPM). This technology allows us to simultaneously measure IgG and IgA antibody responses to hemagglutinins of many different virus strains and subtypes quantitatively with a high throughput. We found that children under 6 years of age responded to natural infection with a relatively narrow response that targeted mostly the hemagglutinin of the strain that caused the infection. Adults, however, have a much broader response, including a boost in antibodies to many group 1 subtype hemagglutinins. Also, a strong recall response against historic H1 hemagglutinins that share the K133 epitope with the pandemic H1N1 virus was observed. Of note, some children, while responding narrowly within H1 and group 1 hemagglutinins, induced a boost to H3 and other group 2 hemagglutinins when infected with H1N1 when they had experienced an H3N2 infection earlier in life. This is an interesting phenomenon providing evidence for immune imprinting and a significant new insight which might be leveraged in future universal influenza virus vaccine strategies. Finally, preexisting immunity to pandemic H1 hemagglutinins was significantly associated with protection from infection in both children and adults. In adults, preexisting immunity to non-H1 group 1 hemagglutinins was also significantly associated with protection from infection. It is known since Thomas Francis, Jr. published his first paper on original antigenic sin in 1960 that the first infection(s) with influenza virus leaves a special immunological imprint which shapes immune responses to future infections with antigenically related influenza virus strains. Imprinting has been implicated in both protective effects as well as blunting of the immune response to vaccines. Despite the fact that this phenomenon was already described almost 60 years ago, we have very little detailed knowledge of the characteristics and breadth of the immune response to the first exposure(s) to influenza virus in life and how this compares to later exposure as adults. Here, we investigate these immune responses in detail using an influenza virus protein microarray. While our findings are mostly descriptive in nature and based on a small sample size, they provide a strong basis for future large-scale studies to better understand imprinting effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.03243-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6974575PMC
January 2020

Broadly protective human antibodies that target the active site of influenza virus neuraminidase.

Science 2019 10;366(6464):499-504

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Better vaccines against influenza virus are urgently needed to provide broader protection against diverse strains, subtypes, and types. Such efforts are assisted by the identification of novel broadly neutralizing epitopes targeted by protective antibodies. Influenza vaccine development has largely focused on the hemagglutinin, but the other major surface antigen, the neuraminidase, has reemerged as a potential target for universal vaccines. We describe three human monoclonal antibodies isolated from an H3N2-infected donor that bind with exceptional breadth to multiple different influenza A and B virus neuraminidases. These antibodies neutralize the virus, mediate effector functions, are broadly protective in vivo, and inhibit neuraminidase activity by directly binding to the active site. Structural and functional characterization of these antibodies will inform the development of neuraminidase-based universal vaccines against influenza virus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aay0678DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7105897PMC
October 2019

Cross-Reactive Antibodies Binding to the Influenza Virus Subtype H11 Hemagglutinin.

Pathogens 2019 Oct 21;8(4). Epub 2019 Oct 21.

Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA.

H11 subtype influenza viruses were isolated from a wide range of bird species and one strain also was isolated from swine. In an effort to generate reagents for a chimeric H11/1 hemagglutinin-based universal influenza virus vaccine candidate, we produced 28 monoclonal antibodies that recognize the H11 HA subtype. Here we characterized these antibodies in terms of binding breadth and functionality. We found that the antibodies bind broadly to North American and Eurasian lineage isolates and also show broad neutralizing activity, suggesting that immunogenic epitopes on the H11 head domain are not under strong pressure from immunity in the natural reservoir. Furthermore, we found that the antibodies were highly hemagglutination inhibition active against the homologous chimeric H11/1N1 virus, but approximately 50% lost this activity when tested against a virus expressing the same the full length H11 HA of which the head domain is present on cH11/1 HA. Furthermore, while strong neutralizing activity was found to a genetically distant North American lineage H11 isolate, little hemagglutination inhibition activity was detected. This suggests that small structural changes between wild type H11 and cH11/1 as well as between Eurasian and North American lineage H11 HAs can strongly influence the functionality of the isolated monoclonal antibodies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/pathogens8040199DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6963512PMC
October 2019

The neuraminidase of A(H3N2) influenza viruses circulating since 2016 is antigenically distinct from the A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 vaccine strain.

Nat Microbiol 2019 12 12;4(12):2216-2225. Epub 2019 Aug 12.

Division of Viral Products, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD, USA.

A(H3N2) virus predominated recent influenza seasons, which has resulted in the rigorous investigation of haemagglutinin, but whether neuraminidase (NA) has undergone antigenic change and contributed to the predominance of A(H3N2) virus is unknown. Here, we show that the NA of the circulating A(H3N2) viruses has experienced significant antigenic drift since 2016 compared with the A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 vaccine strain. This antigenic drift was mainly caused by amino acid mutations at NA residues 245, 247 (S245N/S247T; introducing an N-linked glycosylation site at residue 245) and 468. As a result, the binding of the NA of A(H3N2) virus by some human monoclonal antibodies, including those that have broad reactivity to the NA of the 1957 A(H2N2) and 1968 A(H3N2) reference pandemic viruses as well as contemporary A(H3N2) strains, was reduced or abolished. This antigenic drift also reduced NA-antibody-based protection against in vivo virus challenge. X-ray crystallography showed that the glycosylation site at residue 245 is within a conserved epitope that overlaps the NA active site, explaining why it impacts antibody binding. Our findings suggest that NA antigenic drift impacts protection against influenza virus infection, thus highlighting the importance of including NA antigenicity for consideration in the optimization of influenza vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41564-019-0522-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6879794PMC
December 2019