Antibody 14G7 is protective against lethal Ebola virus challenge and recognizes a distinct linear epitope in the prominent mucin-like domain of the Ebola virus glycoprotein GP. The structure of 14G7 in complex with its linear peptide epitope has now been determined to 2.8 Å. The structure shows that this GP sequence forms a tandem β-hairpin structure that binds deeply into a cleft in the antibody-combining site. A key threonine at the apex of one turn is critical for antibody interaction and is conserved among all Ebola viruses. This work provides further insight into the mechanism of protection by antibodies that target the protruding, highly accessible mucin-like domain of Ebola virus and the structural framework for understanding and characterizing candidate immunotherapeutics.
Receptor editing is performed by replacement of Vκ genes that contribute to autoreactivity. In addition, the Cκ locus can be deleted by Vκ rearrangement to intronic or 3′ of Cκ RS sequences (also referred to as κ deletion elements). B cells that delete the Cκ can then express λ light chains. However, the λ locus, either of man or mouse, does not allow V gene replacement. Nor does it appear to be deleted. Therefore, editing of autoreactive λ B cells may require alternative pathways. We have found that in anti-DNA heavy chain transgenic mice (tgs) VH3H9/56R, B cells that express anti-DNA receptors comprised of λ1 in association with an anti-DNA heavy chain often coexpress a κ chain that prevents DNA binding. We speculate that such isotypically included cells may have low anti-DNA receptor densities, a feature that may lead to self-tolerance. Here we describe a mechanism of preventing DNA binding by expression of a rarely used member of the Vλ family, Vλx. The λx B cells of the tgs also express CD25 and may represent B cells that have exhausted light chain editing possibilities.
autoimmunity; lupus; CD25; light chain; myelin basic protein
Ebola virus (EBOV) glycoprotein (GP), responsible for mediating host-cell attachment and membrane fusion, contains a heavily glycosylated mucin-like domain hypothesized to shield GP from neutralizing antibodies. To test whether the mucin-like domain inhibits the production and function of anti-GP antibodies, we vaccinated mice with Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs) that express vesicular stomatitis virus G, wild-type EBOV GP (EBGP), EBOV GP without its mucin-like domain (ΔMucGP), or EBOV GP with a Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever virus mucin-like domain substituted for the EBOV mucin-like domain (CMsubGP). EBGP-VLP immunized mice elicited significantly higher serum antibody titers toward EBGP or its mutants, as detected by western blot analysis, than did VLP-ΔMucGP. However, EBGP-, ΔMucGP- and CMsubGP-VLP immunized mouse sera contained antibodies that bound to cell surface-expressed GP at similar levels. Furthermore, low but similar neutralizing antibody titers, measured against a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) expressing EBGP or ΔMucGP, were present in EBGP, ΔMucGP, and CMsubGP sera, although a slightly higher neutralizing titer (2- to 2.5-fold) was detected in ΔMucGP sera. We conclude that the EBOV GP mucin-like domain can increase relative anti-GP titers, however these titers appear to be directed, at least partly, to denatured GP. Furthermore, removing the mucin-like domain from immunizing VLPs has modest impact on neutralizing antibody titers in serum.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are proposed to be critical for protection from intracellular pathogens such as Ebola virus. However, there have been no demonstrations that protection against Ebola virus is mediated by Ebola virus-specific CTLs. Here, we report that C57BL/6 mice vaccinated with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicons encoding the Ebola virus nucleoprotein (NP) survived lethal challenge with Ebola virus. Vaccination induced both antibodies to the NP and a major histocompatibility complex class I-restricted CTL response to an 11-amino-acid sequence in the amino-terminal portion of the Ebola virus NP. Passive transfer of polyclonal NP-specific antiserum did not protect recipient mice. In contrast, adoptive transfer of CTLs specific for the Ebola virus NP protected unvaccinated mice from lethal Ebola virus challenge. The protective CTLs were CD8+, restricted to the Db class I molecule, and recognized an epitope within amino acids 43 to 53 (VYQVNNLEEIC) in the Ebola virus NP. The demonstration that CTLs can prevent lethal Ebola virus infection affects vaccine development in that protective cellular immune responses may be required for optimal protection from Ebola virus.
Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs) were produced in insect cells using a recombinant baculovirus expression system and their efficacy for protection against Ebola virus infection was investigated. Two immunizations with 50 ug Ebola VLPs (high dose) induced a high level of antibodies against Ebola GP that exhibited strong neutralizing activity against GP-mediated virus infection and conferred complete protection of vaccinated mice against lethal challenge by a high dose of mouse-adapted Ebola virus. In contrast, two immunizations with 10 ug Ebola VLPs (low dose) induced 5-fold lower levels of antibodies against GP and these mice were not protected against lethal Ebola virus challenge, similar to control mice that were immunized with 50 ug SIV Gag VLPs. However, the antibody response against GP were boosted significantly after a third immunization with 10 ug Ebola VLPs to similar levels as those induced by two immunizations with 50 ug Ebola VLPs, and vaccinated mice were also effectively protected against lethal Ebola virus challenge. Furthermore, serum viremia levels in protected mice were either below the level of detection or significantly lower compared to the viremia levels in control mice. These results show that effective protection can be achieved by immunization with Ebola VLPs produced in insect cells, which give high production yields, and lend further support to their development as an effective vaccine strategy against Ebola virus.
Ebola virus causes lethal hemorrhagic fever in humans, but currently there are no effective vaccines or antiviral compounds for this infectious disease. Passive transfer of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) protects mice from lethal Ebola virus infection (J. A. Wilson, M. Hevey, R. Bakken, S. Guest, M. Bray, A. L. Schmaljohn, and M. K. Hart, Science 287:1664-1666, 2000). However, the epitopes responsible for neutralization have been only partially characterized because some of the MAbs do not recognize the short synthetic peptides used for epitope mapping. To identify the amino acids recognized by neutralizing and protective antibodies, we generated a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) containing the Ebola virus glycoprotein-encoding gene instead of the VSV G protein-encoding gene and used it to select escape variants by growing it in the presence of a MAb (133/3.16 or 226/8.1) that neutralizes the infectivity of the virus. All three variants selected by MAb 133/3.16 contained a single amino acid substitution at amino acid position 549 in the GP2 subunit. By contrast, MAb 226/8.1 selected three different variants containing substitutions at positions 134, 194, and 199 in the GP1 subunit, suggesting that this antibody recognized a conformational epitope. Passive transfer of each of these MAbs completely protected mice from a lethal Ebola virus infection. These data indicate that neutralizing antibody cocktails for passive prophylaxis and therapy of Ebola hemorrhagic fever can reduce the possibility of the emergence of antigenic variants in infected individuals.
The human monoclonal antibody 2F5 neutralizes primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) with rare breadth and potency. A crystal structure of a complex of 2F5 and a peptide corresponding to its core epitope on gp41, ELDKWAS, revealed that the peptide interacts with residues at the base of the unusually long (22-residue) third complementarity-determining region of the heavy chain (CDR H3) but not the apex. Here, we perform alanine-scanning mutagenesis across CDR H3 and make additional substitutions of selected residues to map the paratope of Fab 2F5. Substitution of residues from the base of the H3 loop or from CDRs H1, H2, and L3, which are proximal to the peptide, significantly diminished the affinity of Fab 2F5 for gp41 and a short peptide containing the 2F5 core motif. However, nonconservative substitutions to a phenylalanine residue at the apex of the H3 loop also markedly decreased 2F5 binding to both gp41 and the peptide, suggesting that recognition of the core epitope is crucially dependent on features at the apex of the H3 loop. Furthermore, substitution at the apex of the H3 loop had an even more pronounced effect on the neutralizing activity of 2F5 against three sensitive HIV-1. These observations present a challenge to vaccine strategies based on peptide mimics of the linear epitope.
The packaging of viral genomic RNA into nucleocapsids and subsequently into virions is not completely understood. Phosphoprotein (P) and nucleoprotein (NP) interactions link NP-RNA complexes with P-L (polymerase) complexes to form viral nucleocapsids. The nucleocapsid then interacts with the viral matrix protein, leading to specific packaging of the nucleocapsid into the virion. A mammalian two-hybrid assay and confocal microscopy were used to demonstrate that Ebola virus VP35 and VP40 interact and colocalize in transfected cells. VP35 was packaged into budding virus-like particles (VLPs) as observed by protease protection assays. Moreover, VP40 and VP35 were sufficient for packaging an Ebola virus minignome RNA into VLPs. Results from immunoprecipitation-reverse transcriptase PCR experiments suggest that VP35 confers specificity of the nucleocapsid for viral genomic RNA by direct VP35-RNA interactions.
The presentation of viral epitopes to cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) by swine leukocyte antigen class I (SLA I) is crucial for swine immunity. To illustrate the structural basis of swine CTL epitope presentation, the first SLA crystal structures, SLA-1*0401, complexed with peptides derived from either 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) swine-origin influenza A virus (S-OIVNW9; NSDTVGWSW) or Ebola virus (EbolaAY9; ATAAATEAY) were determined in this study. The overall peptide–SLA-1*0401 structures resemble, as expected, the general conformations of other structure-solved peptide major histocompatibility complexes (pMHC). The major distinction of SLA-1*0401 is that Arg156 has a “one-ballot veto” function in peptide binding, due to its flexible side chain. S-OIVNW9 and EbolaAY9 bind SLA-1*0401 with similar conformations but employ different water molecules to stabilize their binding. The side chain of P7 residues in both peptides is exposed, indicating that the epitopes are “featured” peptides presented by this SLA. Further analyses showed that SLA-1*0401 and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I HLA-A*0101 can present the same peptides, but in different conformations, demonstrating cross-species epitope presentation. CTL epitope peptides derived from 2009 pandemic S-OIV were screened and evaluated by the in vitro refolding method. Three peptides were identified as potential cross-species influenza virus (IV) CTL epitopes. The binding motif of SLA-1*0401 was proposed, and thermostabilities of key peptide–SLA-1*0401 complexes were analyzed by circular dichroism spectra. Our results not only provide the structural basis of peptide presentation by SLA I but also identify some IV CTL epitope peptides. These results will benefit both vaccine development and swine organ-based xenotransplantation.
7C8 is a mouse monoclonal antibody specific for the third hypervariable region (V3) of the human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2)-associated protein gp125. The three-dimensional crystal structure of the Fab fragment of 7C8, determined to 2.7 Å resolution, reveals a deep and narrow antigen-binding cleft with architecture appropriate for an elongated epitope. The highly hydrophobic cleft is bordered on one side by the negatively charged second complementarity determining region (CDR2) and the unusually long positively charged CDR3 of the heavy chain and, on the other side, by the CDR1 of the light chain. Analysis of 7C8 in complex with molecular models of monomeric and trimeric gp125 highlights the importance of a conserved stretch of residues FHSQ that is localized centrally on the V3 region of gp125. Furthermore, modeling also indicates that the Fab fragment neutralizes the virus by sterically impairing subsequent engagement of the gp125 trimer with the co-receptor on the target cell.
Ebola virus causes an acute hemorrhagic fever that is associated with high morbidity and mortality. The viral glycoprotein is thought to contribute to pathogenesis, though precise mechanisms are unknown. Cellular pathogenesis can be modeled in vitro by expression of the Ebola viral glycoprotein (GP) in cells, which causes dramatic morphological changes, including cell rounding and surface protein down-regulation. These effects are known to be dependent on the presence of a highly glycosylated region of the glycoprotein, the mucin domain. Here we show that the mucin domain from the highly pathogenic Zaire subtype of Ebola virus is sufficient to cause characteristic cytopathology when expressed in the context of a foreign glycoprotein. Similarly to full length Ebola GP, expression of the mucin domain causes rounding, detachment from the extracellular matrix, and the down-regulation of cell surface levels of β1 integrin and major histocompatibility complex class 1. These effects were not seen when the mucin domain was expressed in the context of a glycophosphatidylinositol-anchored isoform of the foreign glycoprotein. In contrast to earlier analysis of full length Ebola glycoproteins, chimeras carrying the mucin domains from the Zaire and Reston strains appear to cause similar levels of down-modulation and cell detachment. Cytopathology associated with Ebola glycoprotein expression does not occur when GP expression is restricted to the endoplasmic reticulum. In contrast to a previously published report, our results demonstrate that GP-induced surface protein down-regulation is not mediated through a dynamin-dependent pathway. Overall, these results support a model in which the mucin domain of Ebola GP acts at the cell surface to induce protein down modulation and cytopathic effects.
Ebola virus initially targets monocytes and macrophages, which can lead to the release of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. These inflammatory cytokines are thought to contribute to the development of circulatory shock seen in fatal Ebola virus infections. Here we report that host Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is a sensor for Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP) on virus-like particles (VLPs) and that resultant TLR4 signaling pathways lead to the production of proinflammatory cytokines and suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1) in a human monocytic cell line and in HEK293-TLR4/MD2 cells stably expressing the TLR4/MD2 complex. Ebola virus GP was found to interact with TLR4 by immunoprecipitation/Western blot analyses, and Ebola virus GP on VLPs was able to stimulate expression of NF-κB in a TLR4-dependent manner. Interestingly, we found that budding of Ebola virus VLPs was more pronounced in TLR4-stimulated cells than in unstimulated control cells. In sum, these findings identify the host innate immune protein TLR4 as a sensor for Ebola virus GP which may play an important role in the immunopathogenesis of Ebola virus infection.
Human Ebola virus (EBOV) causes severe hemorrhagic fever disease with high mortality and there is no vaccine or treatment. Antibodies in survivors occur early, are sustained, and can delay infection when transferred into nonhuman primates. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from survivors exhibit potent neutralizing activity in vitro and are protective in rodents. To better understand targets and mechanisms of neutralization, we investigated a panel of mAbs shown previously to react with the envelope glycoprotein (GP). While one non-neutralizing mAb recognized a GP epitope in the non-essential mucin-like domain, the rest were specific for GP1, were neutralizing, and could be further distinguished by reactivity with secreted GP. We show that survivor antibodies, human KZ52 and monkey JP3K11, were specific for conformation-dependent epitopes comprising residues in GP1 and GP2 and that neutralization occurred by two distinct mechanisms; KZ52 inhibited cathepsin cleavage of GP whereas JP3K11 recognized the cleaved, fusion-active form of GP.
Virus; Ebola; Immunity; Neutralization; Antibody; Human; Nonhuman Primate; Rodent
The Filoviridae family comprises of Ebola and Marburg viruses, which are known to cause lethal hemorrhagic fever. However, there is no effective anti-viral therapy or licensed vaccines currently available for these human pathogens. The envelope glycoprotein (GP) of Ebola virus, which mediates entry into target cells, is cytotoxic and this effect maps to a highly glycosylated mucin-like region in the surface subunit of GP (GP1). However, the mechanism underlying this cytotoxic property of GP is unknown. To gain insight into the basis of this GP-induced cytotoxicity, HEK293T cells were transiently transfected with full-length and mucin-deleted (Δmucin) Ebola GP plasmids and GP localization was examined relative to the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum (ER), Golgi, early and late endosomes using deconvolution fluorescent microscopy. Full-length Ebola GP was observed to accumulate in the ER. In contrast, GPΔmucin was uniformly expressed throughout the cell and did not localize in the ER. The Ebola major matrix protein VP40 was also co-expressed with GP to investigate its influence on GP localization. GP and VP40 co-expression did not alter GP localization to the ER. Also, when VP40 was co-expressed with the nucleoprotein (NP), it localized to the plasma membrane while NP accumulated in distinct cytoplasmic structures lined with vimentin. These latter structures are consistent with aggresomes and may serve as assembly sites for filoviral nucleocapsids. Collectively, these data suggest that full-length GP, but not GPΔmucin, accumulates in the ER in close proximity to the nuclear membrane, which may underscore its cytotoxic property.
At 739 amino acids, the nucleoprotein (NP) of Ebola virus is the largest nucleoprotein of the nonsegmented negative-stranded RNA viruses, and like the NPs of other viruses, it plays a central role in virus replication. Huang et al. (Y. Huang, L. Xu, Y. Sun, and G. J. Nabel, Mol. Cell 10:307-316, 2002) previously demonstrated that NP, together with the minor matrix protein VP24 and polymerase cofactor VP35, is necessary and sufficient for the formation of nucleocapsid-like structures that are morphologically indistinguishable from those seen in Ebola virus-infected cells. They further showed that NP is O glycosylated and sialylated and that these modifications are important for interaction between NP and VP35. However, little is known about the structure-function relationship of Ebola virus NP. Here, we examined the glycosylation of Ebola virus NP and further investigated its properties by generating deletion mutants to define the region(s) involved in NP-NP interaction (self-assembly), in the formation of nucleocapsid-like structures, and in the replication of the viral genome. We were unable to identify the types of glycosylation and sialylation, although we did confirm that Ebola virus NP was glycosylated. We also determined that the region from amino acids 1 to 450 is important for NP-NP interaction (self-assembly). We further demonstrated that these amino-terminal 450 residues and the following 150 residues are required for the formation of nucleocapsid-like structures and for viral genome replication. These data advance our understanding of the functional region(s) of Ebola virus NP, which in turn should improve our knowledge of the Ebola virus life cycle and its extreme pathogenicity.
Dendritic cells (DCs), important early targets of Ebola virus (EBOV) infection in vivo, are activated by Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs). To better understand this phenomenon, we have systematically assessed the response of DCs to VLPs of different compositions. VLPs containing the viral matrix protein (VP40) and the viral glycoprotein (GP), were found to induce a proinflammatory response highly similar to a prototypical DC activator, LPS. This response included the production of several proinflammatory cytokines, activation of numerous transcription factors including NF-kappaB, the functional importance of which was demonstrated by employing inhibitors of NF-kappaB activation, and activation of ERK1/2 MAP kinase. In contrast, VLPs constituted with a mutant GP lacking the heavily glycosylated mucin domain showed impaired NF-kappaB and Erk activation and induced less DC cytokine production. We conclude that the GP mucin domain is required for VLPs to stimulate human dendritic cells through NF-kappaB and MAPK signaling pathways.
The T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires of cytotoxic responses to the immunodominant and subdominant HLA A11–restricted epitopes in the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen-4 were investigated in four healthy virus carriers. The response to the subdominant epitope (EBNA4 399-408, designated AVF) was highly restricted with conserved Vβ usage and identical length and amino acid motifs in the third complementarity-determining regions (CDR3), while a broad repertoire using different combinations of TCR-α/β V and J segments and CDR3 regions was selected by the immunodominant epitope (EBNA4 416-424, designated IVT). Distinct patterns of interaction with the A11–peptide complex were revealed for each AVF- or IVT-specific TCR clonotype by alanine scanning mutagenesis analysis. Blocking of cytotoxic function by antibodies specific for the CD8 coreceptor indicated that, while AVF-specific TCRs are of high affinity, the oligoclonal response to the IVT epitope includes both low- and high-affinity TCRs. Thus, comparison of the memory response to two epitopes derived from the same viral antigen and presented through the same MHC class I allele suggests that immunodominance may correlate with the capacity to maintain a broad TCR repertoire.
Recently, we have used synthetic peptides corresponding to the complementarity-determining regions (CDR) of Ig molecules to induce antiidiotypic antisera. Peptide PSH3, representing the third CDR of the IgM rheumatoid factor (RF) Sie heavy (H) chain, induced a private antiidiotype that reacted with only one out of five IgM-RF. Peptide PSL2, corresponding to the second CDR of Sie light (L) chain, induced an antibody against a crossreactive idiotype (CRI), expressed by 10 out of 12 human IgM-RF analyzed. Herein, we report that five additional antiidiotypic antibodies were generated by immunization with synthetic peptides identical to the third L chain CDR of IgM-RF Sie (PSL3), the second and third H chain CDR of IgM-RF Wol, and the second and third CDR of IgM-RF Pom. As analyzed by immunoblot assay, both anti-PSL3 and anti-PSL2 reacted with the majority of 16 IgM-RF. In contrast, all five antiidiotypes induced by the H chain peptides reacted only with the parent proteins, except anti-PSH3, which reacted weakly with one additional RF. These results suggest that one (or very few) VL gene(s), but a larger number of VH genes, are used to encode IgM-RF autoantibodies.
Antibody against a cross-reactive idiotype (CRI) on human IgM- rheumatoid factor (RF) antibodies was induced by immunization of rabbits with a synthetic peptide ( PSL2 ) corresponding to the second complementarity-determining region (CDR), and adjacent amino acid residues of the kappa light chain of the IgM-RF Sie . The anti-peptide antibody bound efficiently to IgM-RF proteins known to share a cross- reactive idiotype, and to their isolated kappa chains. The anti-CRI was absorbed by, and eluted from, a peptide-Sepharose affinity column. The antibody activity was inhibited by the free peptide in solution. The anti-peptide antibody thus identifies a public idiotype on human IgM- RF, that is largely dependent on the primary sequence of the second CDR of the light chain. Such peptide-induced antiidiotypes of predefined specificity may facilitate studies of the molecular basis of idiotypic cross-reactions, the inheritance and somatic diversification of antibody molecules, and the regulation of the idiotype network.
The three-dimensional structures of the Fab fragment of a neutralizing antibody raised against a foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) of serotype C1, alone and complexed to an antigenic peptide representing the major antigenic site A (G-H loop of VP1), have been determined. As previously seen in a complex of the same antigen with another antibody which recognizes a different epitope within antigenic site A, the receptor recognition motif Arg-Gly-Asp and some residues from an adjacent helix participate directly in the interaction with the complementarity-determining regions of the antibody. Remarkably, the structures of the two antibodies become more similar upon binding the peptide, and both undergo considerable induced fit to accommodate the peptide with a similar array of interactions. Furthermore, the pattern of reactivities of five additional antibodies with versions of the antigenic peptide bearing amino acid replacements suggests a similar pattern of interaction of antibodies raised against widely different antigens of serotype C. The results reinforce the occurrence of a defined antigenic structure at this mobile, exposed antigenic site and imply that intratypic antigenic variation of FMDV of serotype C is due to subtle structural differences that affect antibody recognition while preserving a functional structure for the receptor binding site.
With the increase in international traffic, the risk of introducing rare but severe infectious diseases like Ebola hemorrhagic fever is increasing all over the world. However, the system for the diagnosis of Ebola virus infection is available in a limited number of countries. In the present study, we developed an Ebola virus antigen-detection enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) system using a novel monoclonal antibody (MAb) to the nucleoprotein (NP). This antibody recognized an epitope defined by a 26-amino-acid stretch near the C terminus of NP. In a sandwich ELISA system with the MAb, as little as 30 ng of purified recombinant NP (rNP) was detected. Although this MAb was prepared by immunization with rNP of subtype Zaire, it also reacted to the corresponding region of NP derived from the Reston and Sudan subtypes. These results suggest that our ELISA system should work with three of four Ebola subtypes. Furthermore, our ELISA system detected the NP in subtype Reston-infected monkey specimens, while the background level in noninfected specimens was very low, suggesting the usefulness of the ELISA for laboratory diagnosis with clinical specimens.
Ebola virus consists of four genetically distinguishable subtypes. We developed monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to the nucleoprotein (NP) of Ebola virus Zaire subtype and analyzed their cross-reactivities to the Reston and Sudan subtypes. We further determined the epitopes recognized by these MAbs. Three MAbs reacted with the three major subtypes and recognized a fragment containing 110 amino acids (aa) at the C-terminal extremity. They did not show specific reactivities to any 10-aa short peptides in Pepscan analyses, suggesting that these MAbs recognize conformational epitope(s) located within this region. Six MAbs recognized a fragment corresponding to aa 361 to 461 of the NP. Five of these six MAbs showed specific reactivities in Pepscan analyses, and the epitopes were identified in two regions, aa 424 to 430 and aa 451 to 455. Three MAbs that recognized the former epitope region cross-reacted with all three subtypes, and one that recognized the same epitope region was Zaire specific. One MAb, which recognized the latter epitope region, was reactive with Zaire and Sudan subtypes but not with the Reston subtype. These results suggest that Ebola virus NP has at least two linear epitope regions and that the recognition of the epitope by MAbs can vary even within the same epitope region. These MAbs showing different subtype specificities might be useful reagents for developing an immunological system to identify Ebola virus subtypes.
The membrane-proximal external region (MPER) of the HIV-1 gp41 transmembrane glycoprotein is the target of the broadly neutralizing antibody 2F5. Prior studies have suggested a two-component mechanism for 2F5-mediated neutralization involving both structure-specific recognition of a gp41 protein epitope and nonspecific interaction with the viral lipid membrane. Here, we mutationally alter a hydrophobic patch on the third complementarity-determining region of the heavy chain (CDR H3) of the 2F5 antibody and assess the abilities of altered 2F5 variants to bind gp41 and to neutralize diverse strains of HIV-1. CDR H3 alterations had little effect on the affinity of 2F5 variants for a peptide corresponding to its gp41 epitope. In contrast, strong effects and a high degree of correlation (P < 0.0001) were found between virus neutralization and CDR H3 hydrophobicity, as defined by predicted free energies of transfer from water to a lipid bilayer interface or to octanol. The effect of CDR H3 hydrophobicity on neutralization was independent of isolate sensitivity to 2F5, and CDR H3 variants with tryptophan substitutions were able to neutralize HIV-1 ∼10-fold more potently than unmodified 2F5. A threshold was observed for increased hydrophobicity of the 2F5 CDR H3 loop beyond which effects on 2F5-mediated neutralization leveled off. Together, the results provide a more complete understanding of the 2F5 mechanism of HIV-1 neutralization and indicate ways to enhance the potency of MPER-directed antibodies.
Cellular cathepsins are required for Ebola virus infection and are believed to proteolytically process the Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP) during entry. However, the significance of cathepsin cleavage during infection remains unclear. Here we demonstrate a role for cathepsin L (CatL) cleavage of Ebola virus GP in the generation of a stable 18-kDa GP1 viral intermediate that exhibits increased binding to and infectivity for susceptible cell targets. Cell binding to a lymphocyte line was increased when CatL-proteolysed pseudovirions were used, but lymphocytes remained resistant to Ebola virus GP-mediated infection. Genetic removal of the highly glycosylated mucin domain in Ebola virus GP resulted in cell binding similar to that observed with CatL-treated full-length GP, and no overall enhancement of binding or infectivity was observed when mucin-deleted virions were treated with CatL. These results suggest that cathepsin cleavage of Ebola virus GP facilitates an interaction with a cellular receptor(s) and that removal of the mucin domain may facilitate receptor binding. The influence of CatL in Ebola virus GP receptor binding should be useful in future studies characterizing the mechanism of Ebola virus entry.
Infection with Ebola virus causes a severe disease accompanied by high mortality rates, and there are no licensed vaccines or therapies available for human use. Filovirus vaccine research efforts still need to determine the roles of humoral and cell-mediated immune responses in protection from Ebola virus infection. Previous studies indicated that exposure to Ebola virus proteins expressed from packaged Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicons elicited protective immunity in mice and that antibody-mediated protection could only be demonstrated after vaccination against the glycoprotein. In this study, the murine CD8+ T-cell responses to six Ebola virus proteins were examined. CD8+ T cells specific for Ebola virus glycoprotein, nucleoprotein, and viral proteins (VP24, VP30, VP35, and VP40) were identified by intracellular cytokine assays using splenocytes from vaccinated mice. The cells were expanded by restimulation with peptides and demonstrated cytolytic activity. Adoptive transfer of the CD8+ cytotoxic T cells protected filovirus naïve mice from challenge with Ebola virus. These data support a role for CD8+ cytotoxic T cells as part of a protective mechanism induced by vaccination against six Ebola virus proteins and provide additional evidence that cytotoxic T-cell responses can contribute to protection from filovirus infections.