Influenza viruses show a significant capacity to evade host immunity; this is manifest both as large occasional jumps in the antigenic phenotype of viral surface molecules and in gradual antigenic changes leading to annual influenza epidemics in humans. Recent mouse studies show that avidity for host cells can play an important role in polyclonal antibody escape, and further that electrostatic charge of the hemagglutinin glycoprotein can contribute to such avidity.
We test the role of glycoprotein charge on sequence data from the three major subtypes of influenza A in humans, using a simple method of calculating net glycoprotein charge. Of all subtypes, H3N2 in humans shows a striking pattern of increasing positive charge since its introduction in 1968. Notably, this trend applies to both hemagglutinin and neuraminidase glycoproteins. In the late 1980s hemagglutinin charge reached a plateau, while neuraminidase charge started to decline. We identify key groups of amino acid sites involved in this charge trend.
To our knowledge these are the first indications that, for human H3N2, net glycoprotein charge covaries strongly with antigenic drift on a global scale. Further work is needed to elucidate how such charge interacts with other immune escape mechanisms, such as glycosylation, and we discuss important questions arising for future study.
In circulating influenza viruses, gradually accumulated mutations on the glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA), which interacts with infectivity-neutralizing antibodies, lead to the escape of immune system (called antigenic drift). The antibody recognition is highly correlated to the conformation change on the antigenic sites (epitopes), which locate on HA surface. To quantify a changed epitope for escaping from neutralizing antibodies is the basis for the antigenic drift and vaccine development.
We have developed an epitope-based method to identify the antigenic drift of influenza A utilizing the conformation changes on epitopes. A changed epitope, an antigenic site on HA with an accumulated conformation change to escape from neutralizing antibody, can be considered as a "key feature" for representing the antigenic drift. According to hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assays and HA/antibody complex structures, we statistically measured the conformation change of an epitope by considering the number of critical position mutations with high genetic diversity and antigenic scores. Experimental results show that two critical position mutations can induce the conformation change of an epitope to escape from the antibody recognition. Among five epitopes of HA, epitopes A and B, which are near to the receptor binding site, play a key role for neutralizing antibodies. In addition, two changed epitopes often drive the antigenic drift and can explain the selections of 24 WHO vaccine strains.
Our method is able to quantify the changed epitopes on HA for predicting the antigenic variants and providing biological insights to the vaccine updates. We believe that our method is robust and useful for studying influenza virus evolution and vaccine development.
In pandemic and epidemic forms, avian and human influenza viruses often cause significant damage to human society and economics. Gradually accumulated mutations on hemagglutinin (HA) cause immunologically distinct circulating strains, which lead to the antigenic drift (named as antigenic variants). The "antigenic variants" often requires a new vaccine to be formulated before each annual epidemic. Mapping the genetic evolution to the antigenic drift of influenza viruses is an emergent issue to public health and vaccine development
We developed a method for identifying antigenic critical amino acid positions, rules, and co-mutated positions for antigenic variants. The information gain (IG) and the entropy are used to measure the score of an amino acid position on hemagglutinin (HA) for discriminating between antigenic variants and similar viruses. A position with high IG and entropy implied that this position is highly correlated to an antigenic drift. Nineteen positions with high IG and high genetic diversity are identified as antigenic critical positions on the HA proteins. Most of these antigenic critical positions are located on five epitopes or on the surface based on the HA structure. Based on IG values and entropies of these 19 positions on the HA, the decision tree was applied to create a rule-based model and to identify rules for predicting antigenic variants of a given two HA sequences which are often a vaccine strain and a circulating strain. The predicting accuracies of this model on two sets, which consist of a training set (181 hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assays) and an independent test set (31,878 HI assays), are 91.2% and 96.2% respectively.
Our method is able to identify critical positions, rules, and co-mutated positions on HA for predicting the antigenic variants. The information gains and the entropies of HA positions provide insight to the antigenic drift and co-evolution positions for influenza seasons. We believe that our method is robust and is potential useful for studying influenza virus evolution and vaccine development.
Influenza virus undergoes rapid evolution by both antigenic shift and antigenic drift. Antibodies, particularly those binding near the receptor-binding site of hemagglutinin (HA) or the neuraminidase (NA) active site, are thought to be the primary defense against influenza infection, and mutations in antibody binding sites can reduce or eliminate antibody binding. The binding of antibodies to their cognate antigens is governed by such biophysical properties of the interacting surfaces as shape, non-polar and polar surface area, and charge.
To understand forces shaping evolution of influenza virus, we have examined HA sequences of human influenza A and B viruses, assigning each amino acid values reflecting total accessible surface area, non-polar and polar surface area, and net charge due to the side chain. Changes in each of these values between neighboring sequences were calculated for each residue and mapped onto the crystal structures.
Areas of HA showing the highest frequency of pairwise changes agreed well with previously identified antigenic sites in H3 and H1 HAs, and allowed us to propose more detailed antigenic maps and novel antigenic sites for H1 and influenza B HA. Changes in biophysical properties differed between HAs of different subtypes, and between different antigenic sites of the same HA. For H1, statistically significant differences in several biophysical quantities compared to residues lying outside antigenic sites were seen for some antigenic sites but not others. Influenza B antigenic sites all show statistically significant differences in biophysical quantities for all antigenic sites, whereas no statistically significant differences in biophysical quantities were seen for any antigenic site is seen for H3. In many cases, residues previously shown to be under positive selection at the genetic level also undergo rapid change in biophysical properties.
The biophysical consequences of amino acid changes introduced by antigenic drift vary from subtype to subtype, and between different antigenic sites. This suggests that the significance of antibody binding in selecting new variants may also be variable for different antigenic sites and influenza subtypes.
The immune-related evolution of influenza viruses is exceedingly complex and current vaccines against influenza must be reformulated for each influenza season because of the high degree of antigenic drift among circulating influenza strains. Delay in vaccine production is a serious problem in responding to a pandemic situation, such as that of the current H1N1 strain. Immune escape is generally attributed to reduced antibody recognition of the viral hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins whose rate of mutation is much greater than that of the internal non-structural proteins. As a possible alternative, vaccines directed at T cell epitope domains of internal influenza proteins, that are less susceptible to antigenic variation, have been investigated.
HLA transgenic mouse strains expressing HLA class I A*0201, A*2402, and B*0702, and class II DRB1*1501, DRB1*0301 and DRB1*0401 were immunized with 196 influenza H1N1 peptides that contained residues of highly conserved proteome sequences of the human H1N1, H3N2, H1N2, H5N1, and avian influenza A strains. Fifty-four (54) peptides that elicited 63 HLA-restricted peptide-specific T cell epitope responses were identified by IFN-γ ELISpot assay. The 54 peptides were compared to the 2007–2009 human H1N1 sequences for selection of sequences in the design of a new candidate H1N1 vaccine, specifically targeted to highly-conserved HLA-restricted T cell epitopes.
Seventeen (17) T cell epitopes in PB1, PB2, and M1 were selected as vaccine targets based on sequence conservation over the past 30 years, high functional avidity, non-identity to human peptides, clustered localization, and promiscuity to multiple HLA alleles. These candidate vaccine antigen sequences may be applicable to any avian or human influenza A virus.
The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic is the first human pandemic in decades and was of swine origin. Although swine are believed to be an intermediate host in the emergence of new human influenza viruses, there is still little known about the host barriers that keep swine influenza viruses from entering the human population. We surveyed swine progenitors and human viruses from the 2009 pandemic and measured the activities of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), which are the two viral surface proteins that interact with host glycan receptors. A functional balance of these two activities (HA binding and NA cleavage) is found in human viruses but not in the swine progenitors. The human 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus exhibited both low HA avidity for glycan receptors as a result of mutations near the receptor binding site and weak NA enzymatic activity. Thus, a functional match between the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase appears to be necessary for efficient transmission between humans and may be an indicator of the pandemic potential of zoonotic viruses.
Genetic mutation and reassortment of influenza virus gene segments, in particular those of hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), that lead to antigenic drift and shift are the major strategies for influenza virus to escape preexisting immunity. The most recent example of such phenomena is the first pandemic of H1N1 influenza of the 21st century, which started in 2009. Cross-reactive antibodies raised against H1N1 viruses circulating before 1930 show protective activity against the 2009 pandemic virus. Cross-reactive T-cell responses can also contribute to protection, but in vivo support of this view is lacking. To explore the protection mechanisms in vivo, we primed mice with H1 and H3 influenza virus isolates and rechallenged them with a virus derived from the 2009 H1N1 A/CA/04/09 virus, named CA/E3/09. We found that priming with influenza viruses of both H1 and H3 homo- and heterosubtypes protected against lethal CA/E3/09 virus challenge. Convalescent-phase sera from these primed mice conferred no neutralization activity in vitro and no protection in vivo. However, T-cell depletion studies suggested that both CD4 and CD8 T cells contributed to the protection. Taken together, these results indicate that cross-reactive T cells established after initial priming with distally related viruses can be a vital component for prevention of disease and control of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus infection. Our results highlight the importance of establishing cross-reactive T-cell responses for protecting against existing or newly emerging pandemic influenza viruses.
Single radial diffusion (SRD) tests for antibodies to influenza type A hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, nucleoprotein, and matrix protein antigens were compared with conventional hemagglutination inhibition, neuraminidase inhibition, and complement fixation tests. Sera used in this study were obtained in 1968-1969 from volunteers before and after vaccination and before and after an ensuing epidemic of Hong Kong influenza. The SRD test compared favorably with conventional tests for assessment of vaccine- or infection-induced rises in antibody titers to influenza type A viruses. Little linear relationshiip was seen between zone areas with SRD and titers with conventional tests, suggesting that the SRD test may detect antibody of different quality or specificity. The SRD seemed equal to the hemagglutination inhibition test for predicting susceptibility to influenza. SRD is a simple test for the recognition of antibody to various antigenic components of the influenza virus and could prove to be a valuable epidemiological tool.
There is need for improved human influenza vaccines, particularly for older adults who are at greatest risk for severe disease, as well as to address the continuous antigenic drift within circulating human subtypes of influenza virus. We have engineered an influenza virus-like particle (VLP) as a new generation vaccine candidate purified from the supernatants of Sf9 insect cells following infection by recombinant baculoviruses to express three influenza virus proteins, hemagglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA), and matrix 1 (M1). In this study, a seasonal trivalent VLP vaccine (TVV) formulation, composed of influenza A H1N1 and H3N2 and influenza B VLPs, was evaluated in mice and ferrets for the ability to elicit antigen-specific immune responses. Animals vaccinated with the TVV formulation had hemagglutination-inhibition (HAI) antibody titers against all three homologous influenza virus strains, as well as HAI antibodies against a panel of heterologous influenza viruses. HAI titers elicited by the TVV were statistically similar to HAI titers elicited in animals vaccinated with the corresponding monovalent VLP. Mice vaccinated with the TVV had higher level of influenza specific CD8+ T cell responses than a commercial trivalent inactivated vaccine (TIV). Ferrets vaccinated with the highest dose of the VLP vaccine and then challenged with the homologous H3N2 virus had the lowest titers of replicating virus in nasal washes and showed no signs of disease. Overall, a trivalent VLP vaccine elicits a broad array of immunity and can protect against influenza virus challenge.
Drugs inhibiting the influenza A virus (IAV) neuraminidase (NA) are the cornerstone of anti-IAV chemotherapy and prophylaxis in man. Drug-resistant mutations in NA arise frequently in human isolates, limiting the therapeutic application of NA inhibitors. Here, we show that antibody-driven antigenic variation in one domain of the H1 hemagglutinin Sa site leads to compensatory mutations in NA, resulting in NA antigenic variation and acquisition of drug resistance. These findings indicate that influenza A virus resistance to NA inhibitors can potentially arise from antibody driven HA escape, confounding analysis of influenza NA evolution in nature.
As targets of adaptive immunity, influenza viruses are characterized by the fluidity with which they respond to the selective pressure applied by neutralizing antibodies. This mutability of structural determinants of protective immunity is the obstacle in developing universal influenza vaccines. Towards the development of such vaccines and other immune therapies, our studies are designed to identify regions of influenza viruses that are conserved and that mediate virus neutralization. We have specifically focused on viruses of the H3N2 subtype, which have persisted as a principal source of influenza-related morbidity and mortality in humans since the pandemic of 1968. Three monoclonal antibodies have been identified that are broadly-neutralizing against H3 influenza viruses spanning 40 years. The antibodies react with the hemagglutinin glycoprotein and appear to bind in regions that are refractory to the structural variation required for viral escape from neutralization. The antibodies demonstrate therapeutic efficacy in mice against H3N2 virus infection and have potential for use in the treatment of human influenza disease. By mapping the binding region of one antibody, 12D1, we have identified a continuous region of the hemagglutinin that may act as an immunogen to elicit broadly protective immunity to H3 viruses. The anti-H3 monoclonal antibodies were identified after immunization of mice with the hemagglutinin of four different viruses (A/Hong Kong/1/1968, A/Alabama/1/1981, A/Beijing/47/1992, A/Wyoming/3/2003). This immunization schedule was designed to boost B cells specific for conserved regions of the hemagglutinin from distinct antigenic clusters. Importantly, our antibodies are of naturally occurring specificity rather than selected from cloned libraries, demonstrating that broad-spectrum humoral immunity to influenza viruses can be elicited in vivo.
Influenza viruses remain a formidable public health threat. Because of a dramatic increase in drug resistant strains of influenza viruses and due to the semi-regular emergence of pandemic virus strains, the development of novel antibody-based therapies and influenza vaccine constructs is of great interest. Recently, monoclonal antibodies with broad neutralizing activity against an array of Group 1 influenza viruses (including H5 and H1 subtypes) were identified; studies using these antibodies have expanded our understanding of structural aspects of the viral hemagglutinin, the molecule mediating protective immunity to influenza viruses. We have identified the first broadly neutralizing antibodies against viruses in Group 2—specifically, they are active against H3 influenza viruses spanning 40 years. The antibodies react with the hemagglutinin and appear to bind in regions that are refractory to the structural variation required for viral escape from neutralization. The antibodies demonstrate therapeutic efficacy in mice against H3N2 virus infection and have potential for use in the treatment of human influenza disease. By mapping the binding region of one antibody, 12D1, we have identified a continuous region of the hemagglutinin that may act as an immunogen to elicit an immune response conferring broad protection against H3 viruses.
Distinguishing mutations that determine an organism's phenotype from (near-) neutral ‘hitchhikers’ is a fundamental challenge in genome research, and is relevant for numerous medical and biotechnological applications. For human influenza viruses, recognizing changes in the antigenic phenotype and a strains' capability to evade pre-existing host immunity is important for the production of efficient vaccines. We have developed a method for inferring ‘antigenic trees’ for the major viral surface protein hemagglutinin. In the antigenic tree, antigenic weights are assigned to all tree branches, which allows us to resolve the antigenic impact of the associated amino acid changes. Our technique predicted antigenic distances with comparable accuracy to antigenic cartography. Additionally, it identified both known and novel sites, and amino acid changes with antigenic impact in the evolution of influenza A (H3N2) viruses from 1968 to 2003. The technique can also be applied for inference of ‘phenotype trees’ and genotype–phenotype relationships from other types of pairwise phenotype distances.
The molecular evolution of any organism is described by changes in the genotype resulting from genetic drift or selection to maintain or establish fitness under the given environmental conditions. Identification of phenotype-defining changes and their distinction from (near-) neutral (‘hitchhikers’) ones is a fundamental challenge in genome research. The standard approach involves time- and cost-intensive mutation experiments, which are typically low throughput, due to their experimental nature. We have developed a computational method for the inference of phenotypic impact of genotypic changes that is applicable to any system, within or across species, where homologous genetic sequences and associated pairwise phenotype distances are available. We demonstrate the accuracy of our method by application to the human influenza A (H3N2) virus. This exemplary system is of particular interest, as recognizing changes in the antigenic phenotype and a viral strains' capability to evade pre-existing host immunity is important for the production of efficient vaccines. We accurately identified known sites and amino acid changes with antigenic impact over 35 years of evolution, and provide further details on individual antigenically relevant changes in the evolution of influenza A (H3N2) viruses.
Influenza A viruses belong to the best studied viruses, however no effective prevention against influenza infection has been developed. The emerging of still new escape variants of influenza A viruses causing epidemics and periodic worldwide pandemics represents a threat for human population. Therefore, current, hot task of influenza virus research is to look for a way how to get us closer to a universal vaccine. Combination of chosen conserved antigens inducing cross-protective antibody response with epitopes activating also cross-protective cytotoxic T-cells would offer an attractive strategy for improving protection against drift variants of seasonal influenza viruses and reduces the impact of future pandemic strains. Antigenically conserved fusion-active subunit of hemagglutinin (HA2 gp) and ectodomain of matrix protein 2 (eM2) are promising candidates for preparation of broadly protective HA2- or eM2-based vaccine that may aid in pandemic preparedness. Overall protective effect could be achieved by contribution of epitopes recognized by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL) that have been studied extensively to reach much broader control of influenza infection. In this review we present the state-of-art in this field. We describe known adaptive immune mechanisms mediated by influenza specific B- and T-cells involved in the anti-influenza immune defense together with the contribution of innate immunity. We discuss the mechanisms of neutralization of influenza infection mediated by antibodies, the role of CTL in viral elimination and new approaches to develop epitope based vaccine inducing cross-protective influenza virus-specific immune response.
Adaptation of avian influenza viruses for replication and transmission in the human host is believed to require mutations in the hemagglutinin glycoprotein (HA) which enable binding to human α2-6 sialosides and concomitant reduction in affinity for avian α2-3 linked sialosides. Here, we show by glycan microarray analyses that the two mutations responsible for such specificity changes in 1957 H2N2 and 1968 H3N2 pandemic viruses, when inserted into recombinant HAs or intact viruses of some recent avian H5N1 isolates (clade 2.2), impart such attributes. This propensity to adapt to human receptors is primarily dependent on arginine at position 193 within the receptor binding site, as well as loss of a vicinal glycosylation site. already have Widespread occurrence of these susceptible H5N1 clade 2.2 influenza strains has already occurred in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Thus, these avian strains should be considered ‘high-risk’, because of their significantly lower threshold for acquiring human receptor specificity and, therefore, warrant increased surveillance and further study.
Influenza; glycan array; hemagglutinin; receptor specificity; H5N1
Influenza A viruses (IAVs) encode two critical glycoproteins, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase (NA). Hemagglutinin promotes viral docking onto cells via interactions with IAV’s receptor, sialic acid and NA facilitates release of newly synthesized virions by cleaving cellular and viral sialic acid. NA inhibitors, such as oseltamivir, are widely used drugs that work by binding to the active site of NA. Although oseltamivir-resistant viruses were easily generated years ago in laboratory experiments, it was widely believed that these viruses would not be able to circulate in the human population as they did not replicate efficiently. However, oseltamivir-resistant H1N1 viruses rapidly spread during the 2007–2008 IAV season and these viruses contained precisely the same exact drug-resistance mutation identified years prior, a histidine to tyrosine substitution at NA residue 274 (H274Y). Unlike the experimentally derived NA inhibitor-resistant viruses, 2007–2008 H1N1 viruses containing H274Y replicated efficiently. Bloom et al. have solved this riddle by identifying permissive NA mutations that allow viruses to tolerate H274Y. Here, we discuss these important findings and speculate how these studies may facilitate early detection of drug-resistant strains in the future.
influenza virus; neuraminidase; neuraminidase inhibitors; oseltamivir
The 2009 H1N1 swine flu is the first influenza pandemic in decades. The crystal structure of the hemagglutinin from the A/California/04/2009 H1N1 virus shows that its antigenic structure, particularly within the Sa antigenic site, is extremely similar to human H1N1 viruses circulating early in the 20th century. The co-crystal structure of the 1918 HA with 2D1, an antibody from a survivor of the 1918 Spanish flu that neutralizes both 1918 and 2009 H1N1 viruses, reveals an epitope that is conserved in both pandemic viruses. Thus, antigenic similarity between the 2009 and 1918-like viruses provides an explanation for the age-related immunity to the current influenza pandemic.
Influenza A virus has the ability to overcome immunity from previous infections through the acquisition of genetic changes. Thus, understanding the evolution of the viruses in humans is important for the surveillance and the selection of vaccine strains. A total of 30 influenza A/H3N2 viruses and 35 influenza A/H1N1 viruses that were collected in Vietnam from 2001 to 2006 were used to analyze the evolution of the hemagglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA), and matrix protein (M) genes. Phylogenetic analysis of individual gene segments revealed that the HA and the NA genes of the influenza A viruses evolved in a sequential way. However, the evolutionary pattern of the M gene proved to be nonlinear and was not linked with that of the HA and NA genes. Genetic drift in HA1 segments, especially in the antigenic sites of A/H3N2 viruses, occurred more frequently in A/H3N2 viruses than it did in A/H1N1 viruses. Two reassortants, one influenza A/H3N2 strain and one A/H1N1 strain, were found on the basis of the phylogenetic analysis of the three genes. While both genetic mutation and reassortment contributed to their evolution, the frequency of genetic changes and reassortment events differs between the two subtypes. As influenza viruses circulate throughout the year, we emphasize the importance of surveillance in tropical and subtropical zones, where the emergence of new strains may be detected earlier than it is in temperate zones.
The emergence of new strains of Influenza virus have caused several pandemics over the last hundred years with the latest being the H1N1 Swine flu pandemic of
2009. The Hemagglutinin (HA) protein of the Influenza virus is the primary target of human immune system and is responsible for generation of protective
antibodies in humans. Mutations in this protein results in change in antigenic regions (antigenic drift) which consequently leads to loss of immunity in hosts even
in vaccinated population (herd immunity). This necessitates periodic changes in the Influenza vaccine composition. In this paper, we investigate the molecular
basis of the reported loss of herd immunity in vaccinated population (vaccine component: Influenza A/X-31/1968 (H3N2)) which resulted in the outbreak due to
strain Influenza A/Port Chalmers/1/1973 (H3N2). Also, the effects of antigenic drift in HA protein (H3N2 vaccine strains 1968-2007) on the 3D structures as well
as interactions with BH151, a 1968 antibody, has been studied. Rigid body molecular docking protocol has been used to study the antigen-antibody interactions.
We believe that the present study will help in better understanding of host-pathogen interactions at the molecular level.
Influenza virus; H3N2; hemagglutinin; antibody; molecular docking; antigenic drift; host-pathogen interactions; BH151
The surface proteins of human influenza A viruses experience positive selection to escape both human immunity and, more recently, antiviral drug treatments. In bacteria and viruses, immune-escape and drug-resistant phenotypes often appear through a combination of several mutations that have epistatic effects on pathogen fitness. However, the extent and structure of epistasis in influenza viral proteins have not been systematically investigated. Here, we develop a novel statistical method to detect positive epistasis between pairs of sites in a protein, based on the observed temporal patterns of sequence evolution. The method rests on the simple idea that a substitution at one site should rapidly follow a substitution at another site if the sites are positively epistatic. We apply this method to the surface proteins hemagglutinin and neuraminidase of influenza A virus subtypes H3N2 and H1N1. Compared to a non-epistatic null distribution, we detect substantial amounts of epistasis and determine the identities of putatively epistatic pairs of sites. In particular, using sequence data alone, our method identifies epistatic interactions between specific sites in neuraminidase that have recently been demonstrated, in vitro, to confer resistance to the drug oseltamivir; these epistatic interactions are responsible for widespread drug resistance among H1N1 viruses circulating today. This experimental validation demonstrates the predictive power of our method to identify epistatic sites of importance for viral adaptation and public health. We conclude that epistasis plays a large role in shaping the molecular evolution of influenza viruses. In particular, sites with , which would normally not be identified as positively selected, can facilitate viral adaptation through epistatic interactions with their partner sites. The knowledge of specific interactions among sites in influenza proteins may help us to predict the course of antigenic evolution and, consequently, to select more appropriate vaccines and drugs.
Epistasis describes non-additive interactions among genetic sites: the consequence of a mutation at one site may depend on the status of the genome at other sites. In an extreme case, a mutation may have no effect if it arises on one genetic background, but a strong effect on another background. Epistatic mutations in viruses and bacteria that live under severe conditions, such as antibiotic treatments or immune pressure, often allow pathogens to develop drug resistance or escape the immune system. In this paper we develop a new phylogenetic method for detecting epistasis, and we apply this method to the surface proteins of the influenza A virus, which are important targets of the immune system and drug treatments. The authors identify and characterize hundreds of epistatic mutations in these proteins. Among those identified, we find the specific epistatic mutations that were recently shown, experimentally, to confer resistance to the drug Tamiflu. The results of this study may help to predict the course of influenza's antigenic evolution and to select more appropriate vaccines and drugs.
In 2009, a novel H1N1 influenza A virus (2009 pH1N1) emerged and caused a pandemic. A human monoclonal antibody (hMAb; EM4C04), highly specific for the 2009 pH1N1 virus hemagglutinin (HA), was isolated from a severely ill 2009 pH1N1 virus-infected patient. We postulated that under immune pressure with EM4C04, the 2009 pH1N1 virus would undergo antigenic drift and mutate at sites that would identify the antibody binding site. To do so, we infected MDCK cells in the presence of EM4C04 and generated 11 escape mutants, displaying 7 distinct amino acid substitutions in the HA. Six substitutions greatly reduced MAb binding (K123N, D131E, K133T, G134S, K157N, and G158E). Residues 131, 133, and 134 are contiguous with residues 157 and 158 in the globular domain structure and contribute to a novel pH1N1 antibody epitope. One mutation near the receptor binding site, S186P, increased the binding affinity of the HA to the receptor. 186P and 131E are present in the highly virulent 1918 virus HA and were recently identified as virulence determinants in a mouse-passaged pH1N1 virus. We found that pH1N1 escape variants expressing these substitutions enhanced replication and lethality in mice compared to wild-type 2009 pH1N1 virus. The increased virulence of these viruses was associated with an increased affinity for α2,3 sialic acid receptors. Our study demonstrates that antibody pressure by an hMAb targeting a novel epitope in the Sa region of 2009 pH1N1 HA is able to inadvertently drive the development of a more virulent virus with altered receptor binding properties. This broadens our understanding of antigenic drift.
Influenza viruses accumulate amino acid substitutions to evade the antibody response in a process known as antigenic drift, making it necessary to vaccinate against influenza annually. Mapping human monoclonal antibody (hMAb) epitopes is a necessary step towards understanding antigenic drift in humans. We defined the specificity of an hMAb that specifically targeted the 2009 pH1N1 virus and describe a novel epitope. In addition, we identified a previously unappreciated potential for antibody escape to enhance the pathogenicity of a virus. The escape mutation that we identified with in vitro immune pressure was independently reported by other investigators using in vivo selection in nonimmune mice. Although in vitro generation of escape mutants is unlikely to recapitulate antigenic drift in its entirety, the data demonstrate that pressure by a human monoclonal antibody targeting a novel epitope in the hemagglutinin of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus can inadvertently drive the development of escape mutants, of which a subset have increased virulence and altered receptor binding properties.
Monoclonal antibodies were used to study antigenic variation in the nucleoprotein of influenza A viruses. We found that the nucleoprotein molecule of the WSN/33 strain possesses at least five different determinants. Viruses of other influenza A virus subtypes showed antigenic variation in these nucleoprotein determinants, although changes in only one determinant were detected in H0N1 and animal strains. The nucleoprotein of human strains isolated from 1933 through 1979 could be divided into six groups, based on their reactivities with monoclonal antibodies; these groups did not correlate with any particular hemagglutinin or neuraminidase subtype. Our results indicate that antigenic variation in the nucleoproteins of influenza A viruses proceeds independently of changes in the viral surface antigens and suggest that point mutations and genetic reassortment may account for nucleoprotein variability.
Since the 1918 influenza A virus (IAV) pandemic, H1N1 viruses have circulated in human populations. The hemagglutinin (HA) of IAV determines viral antigenicity and often undergoes N-linked glycosylation (NLG) at several sites. Interestingly, structural analysis of the 1918 and 2009 H1N1 pandemic viruses revealed antigenic similarities attributable to the conserved epitopes and the NLG statuses of their HA proteins. NLG of the globular head of HA is known to modulate the antigenicity, fusion activity, virulence, receptor-binding specificity, and immune evasion of IAV. In addition, the HA of IAV often retains additional mutations. These supplemental mutations compensate for the attenuation of viral properties resulting from the introduced NLG. In human H1N1 viruses, the number and location of NLG sites has been regulated in accordance with the antigenic variability of the NLG-targeted antibody-binding site. The relationship between the NLG and the antigenic variance in HA appears to be stably controlled in the viral context.
Glycosylation; hemagglutinin; influenza virus; pandemic
Three influenza pandemics outbroke in the last century accompanied the viral antigen shift and drift, resulting in the change of antigenic property and the low cross protective ability of the existed antibody to the newly emerged pandemic virus, and eventually the death of millions of people. The antigenic characterizations of the viruses isolated in central China in 2004 and 2006–2007 were investigated in the present study.
Hemagglutinin inhibition assay and neutralization assay displayed differential antigenic characteristics of the viruses isolated in central China in two periods (2004 and 2006–2007). HA genes of the viruses mainly located in two branches in phylogeny analysis. 53 mutations of the deduced amino acids of the HA genes were divided into 4 patterns. Mutations in pattern 2 and 3 showed the main difference between viruses isolated in 2004 and 2006–2007. Meanwhile, most amino acids in pattern 2 and 3 located in the globular head of the HA protein, and some of the mutations evenly distributed at the epitope sites.
The study demonstrated that a major antigenic drift had occurred in the viruses isolated in central China. And monitoring the antigenic property should be the priority in preventing the potential pandemic of H5N1 avian influenza virus.
Avian influenza virus; Antigenic epitope; Antigenic drift
The human antibody repertoire has an exceptionally large capacity to recognize new or changing antigens through combinatorial and junctional diversity established at the time of V(D)J recombination and through somatic hypermutation. Influenza viruses exhibit a relentless capacity to escape the human antibody response by altering the amino acids of their surface proteins in hypervariable domains that exhibit a high level of structural plasticity. Both parties in this high-stakes game of shape shifting drive structural evolution of their functional proteins (the B cell receptor/antibody on one side and the viral hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins on the other) using error-prone polymerase systems. It is likely that most of the genetic mutations that occur in these systems are deleterious, resulting in the failure of the B cell or virus with mutations to propagate in the immune repertoire or viral quasispecies. A subset of mutations is tolerated in functional surface proteins that enter the B cell or virus progeny pool. In both cases, selection occurs in the population of mutated and unmutated species. In cases where the functional avidity of the B cell receptor is increased significantly, that clone may be selected for preferential expansion. In contrast, an influenza virus that “escapes” the inhibitory effect of secreted antibodies may represent a high proportion of the progeny virus in that host. The recent paper by O’Donnell et al. [C. D. O’Donnell et al., mBio 3(3):e00120-12, 2012] identifies a mechanism for antibody resistance that does not require escape from binding but rather achieves a greater efficiency in replication.
Hemagglutinin (HA) is the principal antigen, present on the viral surface. It is the primary target for neutralizing antibodies. In this paper, we
have carried out studies on human hemagglutinin protein from H5N1 strain with homologous hemagglutinin from non-human sources of H5N1
strains. In all strains, part of the antigenic site (128-141) predicted by computer program “Antigenic”, corresponds to immunodominant site Sa of
H1 subtype. In AAF02304 strain, A156→S156 mutation lies at the antigenic subsite of site 2 that corresponds to site B in the H3 subtype. In
some strains of non-human origins, there are mutations at the antigenic sites. Interestingly, in AAY56367 strain mutation L138→H138 lies at the
receptor binding site, which also overlaps the antigenic site. Therefore, this amino acid substitution may influence both the specificity of receptor
recognition and antibody binding. Seven potential glycosylation sites in human HA and in some strains of non-human sources have been
predicted by computer program, Scan Prosite. In some strains of HA from non-human sources because of mutation, an additional glycosylation
site appeared at the antigenic site. Therefore in these strains the oligosaccharides will mask the surface of HA as well as antigenic site. Hence
these strains will not be recognized by host immune system.
antigenic site; avian influenza; hemagglutinin