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1.  Multiplex Evaluation of Influenza Neutralizing Antibodies with Potential Applicability to In-Field Serological Studies 
Journal of Immunology Research  2014;2014:457932.
The increased number of outbreaks of H5 and H7 LPAI and HPAI viruses in poultry has major public and animal health implications. The continuous rapid evolution of these subtypes and the emergence of new variants influence the ability to undertake effective surveillance. Retroviral pseudotypes bearing influenza haemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) envelope glycoproteins represent a flexible platform for sensitive, readily standardized influenza serological assays. We describe a multiplex assay for the study of neutralizing antibodies that are directed against both influenza H5 and H7 HA. This assay permits the measurement of neutralizing antibody responses against two antigenically distinct HAs in the same serum/plasma sample thus increasing the amount and quality of serological data that can be acquired from valuable sera. Sera obtained from chickens vaccinated with a monovalent H5N2 vaccine, chickens vaccinated with a bivalent H7N1/H5N9 vaccine, or turkeys naturally infected with an H7N3 virus were evaluated in this assay and the results correlated strongly with data obtained by HI assay. We show that pseudotypes are highly stable under basic cold-chain storage conditions and following multiple rounds of freeze-thaw. We propose that this robust assay may have practical utility for in-field serosurveillance and vaccine studies in resource-limited regions worldwide.
PMCID: PMC4101955  PMID: 25101305
2.  Comparative Serological Assays for the Study of H5 and H7 Avian Influenza Viruses 
The nature of influenza virus to randomly mutate and evolve into new types is an important challenge in the control of influenza infection. It is necessary to monitor virus evolution for a better understanding of the pandemic risk posed by certain variants as evidenced by the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses. This has been clearly recognized in Egypt following the notification of the first HPAI H5N1 outbreak. The continuous circulation of the virus and the mass vaccination programme undertaken in poultry have resulted in a progressive genetic evolution and a significant antigenic drift near the major antigenic sites. In order to establish if vaccination is sufficient to provide significant intra- and interclade cross-protection, lentiviral pseudotypes derived from H5N1 HPAI viruses (A/Vietnam/1194/04, A/chicken/Egypt-1709-01/2007) and an antigenic drift variant (A/chicken/Egypt-1709-06-2008) were constructed and used in pseudotype-based neutralization assays (pp-NT). pp-NT data obtained was confirmed and correlated with HI and MN assays. A panel of pseudotypes belonging to influenza Groups 1 and 2, with a combination of reporter systems, was also employed for testing avian sera in order to support further application of pp-NT as an alternative valid assay that can improve avian vaccination efficacy testing, vaccine virus selection, and the reliability of reference sera.
PMCID: PMC3791816  PMID: 24163763
3.  Detection of antibodies against H5 and H7 strains in birds: evaluation of influenza pseudovirus particle neutralization tests 
Infection Ecology & Epidemiology  2014;4:10.3402/iee.v4.23011.
Avian influenza viruses circulate in bird populations, and it is important to maintain and uphold our knowledge of the viral strains that are currently of interest in this context. Here, we describe the use of hemagglutinin-pseudotype retroviruses based on highly pathogenic influenza viruses for the screening of avian sera for influenza A antibodies. Our aim was also to determine whether the pseudovirus neutralization tests that we assessed were sensitive and simple to use compared to the traditional methods, including hemagglutination inhibition assays and microneutralization tests.
Material and methods
H5 and H7 pseudovirus neutralization tests were evaluated by using serum from infected rabbits. Subsequently, the assays were further investigated using a panel of serum samples from avian species. The panel contained samples that were seropositive for five different hemagglutinin subtypes as well as influenza A seronegative samples.
Results and discussion
The results suggest that the pseudovirus neutralization test is an alternative to hemagglutination inhibition assays, as we observed comparable titers to those of both standard microneutralizations assays as well as hemagglutinin inhibition assays. When evaluated by a panel of avian sera, the method also showed its capability to recognize antibodies directed toward low-pathogenic H5 and H7. Hence, we conclude that it is possible to use pseudoviruses based on highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses to screen avian sera for antibodies directed against influenza A subtypes H5 and H7.
PMCID: PMC3895261  PMID: 24455106
influenza A; pseudovirus; neutralization; antibodies; avian
4.  The human Transmembrane Protease Serine 2 is necessary for the production of Group 2 influenza A virus pseudotypes 
The monomer of influenza haemagglutinin is synthesized as a single polypeptide precursor that during maturation is cleaved by proteases into two active subunits. Other studies have demonstrated that the human Transmembrane Protease Serine 2 (TMPRSS2) can cleave the HA of human seasonal influenza viruses. Consequently, we have investigated the use of human Transmembrane Protease Serine 2 to produce high titre influenza haemmagglutinin (HA) lentiviral pseudotypes from Group 2 influenza viruses. Such pseudotypes represent powerful and safe tools to study viral entry and immune responses. Influenza pseudotype particles are obtained by co-transfecting human embryonic kidney HEK293T/17 cells using plasmids coding for the influenza HA, HIV gag-pol and a lentiviral vector incorporating firefly luciferase. However, in order to produce Group 2 pseudotypes, it was necessary to co-transfect a plasmid expressing the TMPRSS2 endoprotease, to achieve the necessary HA cleavage for infective particle generation. These lentiviral pseudotypes were shown to transduce HEK293T/17 cells with high efficiency. This demonstrates that TMPRSS2 is necessary for the functional activation, in vitro, of both the HA of human seasonal influenza and other Group 2 HA influenza strains. Additionally, we show that the Group 2 influenza pseudotype particles can be used as surrogate antigens in neutralization assays and are efficiently neutralized by corresponding influenza virus reference sera. These data demonstrate that the viral pseudotype system is a powerful method for serological surveillance of a wide range of influenza viruses.
PMCID: PMC3614188  PMID: 23577043
Haemagglutinin; protease cleavage; antibody response; pseudotype serology
5.  Llama-Derived Single Domain Antibodies to Build Multivalent, Superpotent and Broadened Neutralizing Anti-Viral Molecules 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e17665.
For efficient prevention of viral infections and cross protection, simultaneous targeting of multiple viral epitopes is a powerful strategy. Llama heavy chain antibody fragments (VHH) against the trimeric envelope proteins of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (Fusion protein), Rabies virus (Glycoprotein) and H5N1 Influenza (Hemagglutinin 5) were selected from llama derived immune libraries by phage display. Neutralizing VHH recognizing different epitopes in the receptor binding sites on the spikes with affinities in the low nanomolar range were identified for all the three viruses by viral neutralization assays. By fusion of VHH with variable linker lengths, multimeric constructs were made that improved neutralization potencies up to 4,000-fold for RSV, 1,500-fold for Rabies virus and 75-fold for Influenza H5N1. The potencies of the VHH constructs were similar or better than best performing monoclonal antibodies. The cross protection capacity against different viral strains was also improved for all three viruses, both by multivalent (two or three identical VHH) and biparatopic (two different VHH) constructs. By combining a VHH neutralizing RSV subtype A, but not subtype B with a poorly neutralizing VHH with high affinity for subtype B, a biparatopic construct was made with low nanomolar neutralizing potency against both subtypes. Trivalent anti-H5N1 VHH neutralized both Influenza H5N1 clade1 and 2 in a pseudotype assay and was very potent in neutralizing the NIBRG-14 Influenza H5N1 strain with IC50 of 9 picomolar. Bivalent and biparatopic constructs against Rabies virus cross neutralized both 10 different Genotype 1 strains and Genotype 5.
The results show that multimerization of VHH fragments targeting multiple epitopes on a viral trimeric spike protein is a powerful tool for anti-viral therapy to achieve “best-in-class” and broader neutralization capacity.
PMCID: PMC3069976  PMID: 21483777
6.  Adjuvant-Free Immunization with Hemagglutinin-Fc Fusion Proteins as an Approach to Influenza Vaccines ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(6):3010-3014.
The hemagglutinins (HAs) of human H1 and H3 influenza viruses and avian H5 influenza virus were produced as recombinant fusion proteins with the human immunoglobulin Fc domain. Recombinant HA-human immunoglobulin Fc domain (HA-HuFc) proteins were secreted from baculovirus-infected insect cells as glycosylated oligomer HAs of the anticipated molecular mass, agglutinated red blood cells, were purified on protein A, and were used to immunize mice in the absence of adjuvant. Immunogenicity was demonstrated for all subtypes, with the serum samples demonstrating subtype-specific hemagglutination inhibition, epitope specificity similar to that seen with virus infection, and neutralization. HuFc-tagged HAs are potential candidates for gene-to-vaccine approaches to influenza vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3067967  PMID: 21191017
7.  Heterosubtypic neutralizing antibodies are produced by individuals immunized with a seasonal influenza vaccine 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(5):1663-1673.
The target of neutralizing antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection is the viral protein HA. Genetic and antigenic variation in HA has been used to classify influenza viruses into subtypes (H1–H16). The neutralizing antibody response to influenza virus is thought to be specific for a few antigenically related isolates within a given subtype. However, while heterosubtypic antibodies capable of neutralizing multiple influenza virus subtypes have been recently isolated from phage display libraries, it is not known whether such antibodies are produced in the course of an immune response to influenza virus infection or vaccine. Here we report that, following vaccination with seasonal influenza vaccine containing H1 and H3 influenza virus subtypes, some individuals produce antibodies that cross-react with H5 HA. By immortalizing IgG-expressing B cells from 4 individuals, we isolated 20 heterosubtypic mAbs that bound and neutralized viruses belonging to several HA subtypes (H1, H2, H5, H6, and H9), including the pandemic A/California/07/09 H1N1 isolate. The mAbs used different VH genes and carried a high frequency of somatic mutations. With the exception of a mAb that bound to the HA globular head, all heterosubtypic mAbs bound to acid-sensitive epitopes in the HA stem region. Four mAbs were evaluated in vivo and protected mice from challenge with influenza viruses representative of different subtypes. These findings reveal that seasonal influenza vaccination can induce polyclonal heterosubtypic neutralizing antibodies that cross-react with the swine-origin pandemic H1N1 influenza virus and with the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.
PMCID: PMC2860935  PMID: 20389023
8.  T Cell Responses to Whole SARS Coronavirus in Humans1 
Effective vaccines should confer long-term protection against future outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused by a novel zoonotic coronavirus (SARS-CoV) with unknown animal reservoirs. We conducted a cohort study examining multiple parameters of immune responses to SARS-CoV infection, aiming to identify the immune correlates of protection. We used a matrix of overlapping peptides spanning whole SARS-CoV proteome to determine T cell responses from 128 SARS convalescent samples by ex vivo IFN-γ ELISPOT assays. Approximately 50% of convalescent SARS patients were positive for T cell responses, and 90% possessed strongly neutralizing Abs. Fifty-five novel T cell epitopes were identified, with spike protein dominating total T cell responses. CD8+ T cell responses were more frequent and of a greater magnitude than CD4+ T cell responses (p < 0.001). Polychromatic cytometry analysis indicated that the virus-specific T cells from the severe group tended to be a central memory phenotype (CD27+/CD45RO+) with a significantly higher frequency of polyfunctional CD4+ T cells producing IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-2, and CD8+ T cells producing IFN-γ, TNF-α, and CD107a (degranulation), as compared with the mild-moderate group. Strong T cell responses correlated significantly (p < 0.05) with higher neutralizing Ab. The serum cytokine profile during acute infection indicated a significant elevation of innate immune responses. Increased Th2 cytokines were observed in patients with fatal infection. Our study provides a roadmap for the immunogenicity of SARS-CoV and types of immune responses that may be responsible for the virus clearance, and should serve as a benchmark for SARS-CoV vaccine design and evaluation.
PMCID: PMC2683413  PMID: 18832706
9.  Investigating antibody neutralization of lyssaviruses using lentiviral pseudotypes: a cross-species comparison 
The Journal of General Virology  2008;89(Pt 9):2204-2213.
Cross-neutralization between rabies virus (RABV) and two European bat lyssaviruses (EBLV-1 and -2) was analysed using lentiviral pseudotypes as antigen vectors. Glycoprotein (G-protein) cDNA from RABV challenge virus standard-11 (CVS-11) and EBLV-1 and -2 were cloned and co-expressed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or murine leukemia virus (MLV) gag–pol and packageable green fluorescent protein (GFP) or luciferase reporter genes in human cells. The harvested lentiviral (HIV) vector infected over 40 % of baby hamster kidney (BHK) target cells, providing high-titre pseudotype stocks. Tests on blinded antibody-positive (n=15) and -negative (n=45) sera, predetermined by the fluorescent antibody virus neutralization (FAVN) test approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Office International des Epizooties (OIE), revealed that the CVS-11 pseudotype assay had 100 % concordance with FAVN and strongly correlated with neutralization titres (r2=0.89). Cross-neutralization tests using sera from RABV-vaccinated humans and animals on pseudotypes with CVS-11, EBLV-1 and EBLV-2 envelopes showed that the relative neutralization titres correlated broadly with the degree of G-protein diversity. Pseudotypes have three major advantages over live-virus neutralization tests: (i) they can be handled in low-biohazard-level laboratories; (ii) the use of reporter genes such as GFP or β-galactosidase will allow the assay to be undertaken at low cost in laboratories worldwide; (iii) each assay requires <10 μl serum. This robust microassay will improve our understanding of the protective humoral immunity that current rabies vaccines confer against emerging lyssaviruses, and will be applicable to surveillance studies, thus helping to control the spread of rabies.
PMCID: PMC2886951  PMID: 18753230
10.  Longitudinally Profiling Neutralizing Antibody Response to SARS Coronavirus with Pseudotypes 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2005;11(3):411-416.
SARS-CoV spike protein pseudotypes are the basis of an in vitro microneutralization assay sensitive and specific for SARS-CoV neutralizing antibodies.
The severe acute respiratory syndrome–associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) spike protein (S) is a major target for neutralizing antibodies. Retroviral SARS-CoV S pseudotypes have been constructed and used to develop an in vitro microneutralization assay that is both sensitive and specific for SARS-CoV neutralizing antibodies. Neutralization titers measured by this assay are highly correlated to those measured by an assay using replication-competent SARS-CoV. No cross-neutralization occurred with human sera known to contain antibodies to coronavirus strains OC43 and 229E. The pseudotype assay was used to profile neutralizing antibody responses against SARS-CoV S in sequential serum samples taken from 41 confirmed SARS patients during the 2003 outbreak in Hong Kong and shows long-lasting immunity in most recovered patients. The pseudotype assay does not require handling live SARS virus; it is a useful tool to determine neutralizing titers during natural infection and the preclinical evaluation of candidate vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3298259  PMID: 15757556
SARS virus; Neutralization tests; Infectious diseases; emerging; Vaccines; research

Results 1-10 (10)