Coeliac disease (CD), an enteropathy caused by cereal gluten ingestion, is characterized by CD4+ T cells recognizing deamidated gluten and by antibodies reactive to gluten or the self-antigen transglutaminase 2 (TG2). TG2-specific immunoglobin A (IgA) of plasma cells (PCs) from CD lesions have limited somatic hypermutation (SHM). Here we report that gluten-specific IgA of lesion-resident PCs share this feature. Monoclonal antibodies were expression cloned from single PCs of patients either isolated from cultures with reactivity to complex deamidated gluten antigen or by sorting with gluten peptide tetramers. Typically, the antibodies bind gluten peptides related to T-cell epitopes and many have higher reactivity to deamidated peptides. There is restricted VH and VL combination and usage among the antibodies. Limited SHM suggests that a common factor governs the mutation level in PCs producing TG2- and gluten-specific IgA. The antibodies have potential use for diagnosis of CD and for detection of gluten.
The nature of the immunoglobulin light chain affects peripheral B cell tolerance and autoreactivity.
The important subtleties of B cell tolerance are best understood in a diverse immunoglobulin (Ig) repertoire context encoding a full spectrum of autoreactivity. To achieve this, we used mice expressing Igκ transgenes that confer varying degrees of autoreactivity within a diverse heavy chain (HC) repertoire. These transgenes, coupled with a biomarker to identify receptor-edited cells and combined with expression cloning of B cell receptors, allowed us to analyze tolerance throughout B cell development. We found that both the nature of the autoantigen and the Ig HC versus light chain (LC) contribution to autoreactivity dictate the developmental stage and mechanism of tolerance. Furthermore, although selection begins in the bone marrow, over one third of primary tolerance occurs in the periphery at the late transitional developmental stage. Notably, we demonstrate that the LC has profound effects on tolerance and can lead to exacerbated autoantibody production.
The emergence of avian H7N9 viruses in humans in China has renewed concerns about influenza pandemics emerging from Asia. Vaccines are still the best countermeasure against emerging influenza virus infections, but the process from the identification of vaccine seed strains to the distribution of the final product can take several months. In the case of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, a vaccine was not available before the first pandemic wave hit and therefore came too late to reduce influenza morbidity. H7 vaccines based on divergent isolates of the Eurasian and North American lineages have been tested in clinical trials, and seed strains and reagents are already available and can potentially be used initially to curtail influenza-induced disease until a more appropriately matched H7N9 vaccine is ready. In a challenge experiment in the mouse model, we assessed the efficacy of both inactivated virus and recombinant hemagglutinin vaccines made from seed strains that are divergent from H7N9 from each of the two major H7 lineages. Furthermore, we analyzed the cross-reactive responses of sera from human subjects vaccinated with heterologous North American and Eurasian lineage H7 vaccines to H7N9. Vaccinations with inactivated virus and recombinant hemagglutinin protein preparations from both lineages raised hemagglutination-inhibiting antibodies against H7N9 viruses and protected mice from stringent viral challenges. Similar cross-reactivity was observed in sera of human subjects from a clinical trial with a divergent H7 vaccine. Existing H7 vaccine candidates based on divergent strains could be used as a first line of defense against an H7N9 pandemic. In addition, this also suggests that H7N9 vaccines that are currently under development might be stockpiled and used for divergent avian H7 strains that emerge in the future.
IMPORTANCE Sporadic human infections with H7N9 viruses started being reported in China in the early spring of 2013. Despite a significant drop in the number of infections during the summer months of 2013, an increased number of cases has already been reported for the 2013-2014 winter season. The high case fatality rate, the ability to bind to receptors in the human upper respiratory tract in combination with several family clusters, and the emergence of neuraminidase inhibitor-resistant variants that show no loss of pathogenicity and the ability to transmit in animal models have raised concerns about a potential pandemic and have spurred efforts to produce vaccine candidates. Here we show that antigen preparations from divergent H7 strains are able to induce protective immunity against H7N9 infection.
The gluten-sensitive enteropathy celiac disease is tightly associated with the production of autoantibodies specific for the enzyme transglutaminase 2 (TG2)5. The mechanisms underlying the activation of autoreactive B cells, however, are not well defined. To gain more insight into this autoimmune response we have characterized the binding of TG2 by a panel of human monoclonal antibodies generated by expression cloning of immunoglobulin genes from single plasma cells of the celiac disease lesion. The antibodies were highly specific to TG2 and bound preferentially to the “open”, Ca2+-activated enzyme conformation. Epitope mapping revealed that they recognize few distinct conformational epitopes that cluster in the N-terminal half of the enzyme. Two of the epitopes were overlapping with the fibronectin binding site in TG2, and none of the epitopes was accessible when TG2 was in a cell surface-bound form. Based on our findings we propose that the autoantibodies are generated against the soluble, catalytically active enzyme, whereas antibodies reactive with cell surface-associated TG2 are absent from the response due to negative selection of B cells recognizing membrane-bound self-antigen. The findings give insight into the mechanisms controlling the formation of anti-TG2 autoantibodies in celiac disease.
Antigenic variation in the globular domain of influenza A virus (IAV) hemagglutinin (HA) precludes effective immunity to this major human pathogen. Although the HA stem is highly conserved between influenza virus strains, HA stem-reactive antibodies (StRAbs) were long considered biologically inert. It is now clear, however, that StRAbs reduce viral replication in animal models and protect against pathogenicity and death, supporting the potential of HA stem-based immunogens as drift-resistant vaccines. Optimally designing StRAb-inducing immunogens and understanding StRAb effector functions require thorough comprehension of HA stem structure and antigenicity. Here, we study the biogenesis of HA stem epitopes recognized in cells infected with various drifted IAV H1N1 strains using mouse and human StRAbs. Using a novel immunofluorescence (IF)-based assay, we find that human StRAbs bind monomeric HA in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and trimerized HA in the Golgi complex (GC) with similar high avidity, potentially good news for producing effective monomeric HA stem immunogens. Though HA stem epitopes are nestled among several N-linked oligosaccharides, glycosylation is not required for full antigenicity. Rather, as N-linked glycans increase in size during intracellular transport of HA through the GC, StRAb binding becomes temperature-sensitive, binding poorly to HA at 4°C and well at 37°C. A de novo designed, 65-residue protein binds the mature HA stem independently of temperature, consistent with a lack of N-linked oligosaccharide steric hindrance due to its small size. Likewise, StRAbs bind recombinant HA carrying simple N-linked glycans in a temperature-independent manner. Chemical cross-linking experiments show that N-linked oligosaccharides likely influence StRAb binding by direct local effects rather than by globally modifying the conformational flexibility of HA. Our findings indicate that StRAb binding to HA is precarious, raising the possibility that sufficient immune pressure on the HA stem region could select for viral escape mutants with increased steric hindrance from N-linked glycans.
Extensive variation in the IAV HA globular domain severely impedes influenza vaccination. Recent findings demonstrate that StRAbs, specific Abs to the highly conserved stem region of HA, can protect hosts against a broad variety of influenza virus strains. In investigating the binding of StRAbs to HA during its biogenesis in IAV-infected cells, we find that these Abs can bind HA monomers prior to their trimerization in the GC. Binding to HA becomes temperature-dependent, however, as N-linked oligosaccharides mature during transport of trimerized HA through the GC to the cell surface. Our findings support the potential use of monomeric HA stem immunogens to induce broadly neutralizing Abs, but raise the possibility of eventual viral escape from StRAbs, based on structural alterations in the HA that increase steric hindrance of HA stem N-linked glycans on StRAb binding.
B lymphocyte memory generates antibody-secreting cells (ASCs) that represent a source of protective antibodies that may be exploited for therapeutics. Here we vaccinated four donors with Pneumovax23 and produced human monoclonal antibodies (hmAbs) from ASCs. We have cloned 137 hmAbs and the specificities of these antibodies encompass 19 of the 23 serotypes in the vaccine, as well as cell wall polysaccharide (CWPS). Although the majority of the antibodies are serotype specific, 12% cross-react with two serotypes. The Pneumovax23 ASC antibody sequences are highly mutated and clonal, indicating an anamnestic response, even though this was a primary vaccination. Hmabs from 64% of the clonal families facilitate opsonophagocytosis. Although 9% of the total antibodies bind to CWPS impurity in the vaccine, none of these clonal families showed opsonophagocytic activity. Overall, these studies have allowed us to address unanswered questions in the field of human immune responses to polysaccharide vaccines, including the cross-reactivity of individual antibodies between serotypes and the percentage of antibodies that are protective after vaccination with Pneumovax23.
Antibody secreting cells; B cell memory; human monoclonal antibodies; Pneumovax; Streptococcus pneumoniae
During seasonal influenza epidemics, disease burden is shouldered predominantly by the very young and the elderly. Elderly individuals are particularly affected, in part because vaccine efficacy wanes with age. This has been linked to a reduced ability to induce a robust serum antibody response. Here, we show that this is due to reduced quantities of vaccine-specific antibodies, rather than a lack of antibody avidity or affinity. We measured levels of vaccine-specific plasmablasts by ELISPOT 1 week after immunization of young and elderly adults with inactivated seasonal influenza vaccine. Plasmablast-derived polyclonal antibodies (PPAbs) were generated from bulk-cultured B cells, while recombinant monoclonal antibodies (re-mAbs) were produced from single plasmablasts. The frequency of vaccine-specific plasmablasts and the concentration of PPAbs were lower in the elderly than in young adults, whereas the yields of secreted IgG per plasmablast were not different. Differences were not detected in the overall vaccine-specific avidity or affinity of PPAbs and re-mAbs between the 2 age groups. In contrast, reactivity of the antibodies induced by the inactivated seasonal influenza vaccine toward the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus, which was not present in the vaccine, was higher in the elderly than in the young. These results indicate that the inferior antibody response to influenza vaccination in the elderly is primarily due to reduced quantities of vaccine-specific antibodies. They also suggest that exposure history affects the cross-reactivity of vaccination-induced antibodies.
Although scarce after annual influenza vaccination, B cells producing antibodies capable of neutralizing multiple influenza strains are abundant in humans infected with pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza.
The 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza pandemic demonstrated the global health threat of reassortant influenza strains. Herein, we report a detailed analysis of plasmablast and monoclonal antibody responses induced by pandemic H1N1 infection in humans. Unlike antibodies elicited by annual influenza vaccinations, most neutralizing antibodies induced by pandemic H1N1 infection were broadly cross-reactive against epitopes in the hemagglutinin (HA) stalk and head domain of multiple influenza strains. The antibodies were from cells that had undergone extensive affinity maturation. Based on these observations, we postulate that the plasmablasts producing these broadly neutralizing antibodies were predominantly derived from activated memory B cells specific for epitopes conserved in several influenza strains. Consequently, most neutralizing antibodies were broadly reactive against divergent H1N1 and H5N1 influenza strains. This suggests that a pan-influenza vaccine may be possible, given the right immunogen. Antibodies generated potently protected and rescued mice from lethal challenge with pandemic H1N1 or antigenically distinct influenza strains, making them excellent therapeutic candidates.
Each B-cell receptor consists of a pair of heavy and light chains. High-throughput sequencing can identify large numbers of heavy- and light-chain variable regions (VH and VL) in a given B-cell repertoire, but information about endogenous pairing of heavy and light chains is lost after bulk lysis of B-cell populations. Here we describe a way to retain this pairing information. In our approach, single B cells (>5 × 104 capacity per experiment) are deposited in a high-density microwell plate (125 pl/well) and lysed in situ. mRNA is then captured on magnetic beads, reverse transcribed and amplified by emulsion VH:VL linkage PCR. The linked transcripts are analyzed by Illumina high-throughput sequencing. We validated the fidelity of VH:VL pairs identified by this approach and used the method to sequence the repertoire of three human cell subsets—peripheral blood IgG+ B cells, peripheral plasmablasts isolated after tetanus toxoid immunization and memory B cells isolated after seasonal influenza vaccination.
Influenza A viruses cause annual epidemics and occasionally pandemics. Antibodies directed to the conserved viral nucleoprotein (NP) may play a role in immunity against various influenza A virus subtypes. Here, we assessed the immunological significance of a human monoclonal antibody directed to NP in vitro. This antibody bound to virus-infected cells but did not display virus-neutralizing activity, complement-dependent cell cytotoxicity, or opsonization of viral antigen for improved antigen presentation to CD8+ T cells by dendritic cells.
The specificity of H1N1 antibody responses can be shifted to epitopes near the HA receptor–binding domain after sequential infections with viral strains that share homology in this region.
Human antibody responses against the 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) virus are predominantly directed against conserved epitopes in the stalk and receptor-binding domain of the hemagglutinin (HA) protein. This is in stark contrast to pH1N1 antibody responses generated in ferrets, which are focused on the variable Sa antigenic site of HA. Here, we show that most humans born between 1983 and 1996 elicited pH1N1 antibody responses that are directed against an epitope near the HA receptor–binding domain. Importantly, most individuals born before 1983 or after 1996 did not elicit pH1N1 antibodies to this HA epitope. The HAs of most seasonal H1N1 (sH1N1) viruses that circulated between 1983 and 1996 possess a critical K133 amino acid in this HA epitope, whereas this amino acid is either mutated or deleted in most sH1N1 viruses circulating before 1983 or after 1996. We sequentially infected ferrets with a 1991 sH1N1 virus and then a pH1N1 virus. Sera isolated from these animals were directed against the HA epitope involving amino acid K133. These data suggest that the specificity of pH1N1 antibody responses can be shifted to epitopes near the HA receptor–binding domain after sequential infections with sH1N1 and pH1N1 viruses that share homology in this region.
The major goal in vaccination is establishment of long-term, prophylactic humoral memory to a pathogen. Two major components to long-lived humoral memory are plasma cells for the production of specific immunoglobulin and memory B cells that survey for their specific antigen in the periphery for later affinity maturation, proliferation, and differentiation. The study of human B cell memory has been aided by the discovery of a general marker for B cell memory, expression of CD27; however, new data suggests the existence of CD27− memory B cells as well. These recently described non-canonical memory populations have increasingly pointed to the heterogeneity of the memory compartment. The novel B memory subsets in humans appear to have unique origins, localization, and functions compared to what was considered to be a “classical” memory B cell. In this article, we review the known B cell memory subsets, the establishment of B cell memory in vaccination and infection, and how understanding these newly described subsets can inform vaccine design and disease treatment.
B cell; memory B cell; antibody; vaccine; B cell subset; influenza; anthrax; immunoglobulin
Self-reactive B cells not controlled by receptor editing or clonal deletion may become anergic. We report that fully mature human B cells negative for surface IgM and retaining only IgD are autoreactive and functionally attenuated (referred to as naive IgD+IgM− B cells [BND]). These BND cells typically make up 2.5% of B cells in the peripheral blood, have antibody variable region genes in germline (unmutated) configuration, and, by all current measures, are fully mature. Analysis of 95 recombinant antibodies expressed from the variable genes of single BND cells demonstrated that they are predominantly autoreactive, binding to HEp-2 cell antigens and DNA. Upon B cell receptor cross-linkage, BND cells have a reduced capacity to mobilize intracellular calcium or phosphorylate tyrosines, demonstrating that they are anergic. However, intense stimulation causes BND cells to fully respond, suggesting that these cells could be the precursors of autoantibody secreting plasma cells in autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis. This is the first identification of a distinct mature human B cell subset that is naturally autoreactive and controlled by the tolerizing mechanism of functional anergy.
Segmentation of the influenza A virus (IAV) genome enables rapid gene reassortment at the cost of complicating the task of assembling the full viral genome. By simultaneously probing for the expression of multiple viral proteins in MDCK cells infected at a low multiplicity with IAV, we observe that the majority of infected cells lack detectable expression of one or more essential viral proteins. Consistent with this observation, up to 90% of IAV-infected cells fail to release infectious progeny, indicating that many IAV virions scored as noninfectious by traditional infectivity assays are capable of single-round infection. This fraction was not significantly affected by target or producer cell type but varied widely between different IAV strains. These data indicate that IAV exists primarily as a swarm of complementation-dependent semi-infectious virions, and thus traditional, propagation-dependent assays of infectivity may drastically misrepresent the true infectious potential of a virus population.
The human antibody repertoire is one of the most important defenses against infectious disease, and the development of vaccines has enabled the conferral of targeted protection to specific pathogens. However, there are many challenges to measuring and analyzing the immunoglobulin sequence repertoire, such as the fact that each B cell contains a distinct antibody sequence encoded in its genome, that the antibody repertoire is not constant but changes over time, and the high similarity between antibody sequences. We have addressed this challenge by using high-throughput long read sequencing to perform immunogenomic characterization of expressed human antibody repertoires in the context of influenza vaccination. Informatic analysis of 5 million antibody heavy chain sequences from healthy individuals allowed us to perform global characterizations of isotype distributions, determine the lineage structure of the repertoire and measure age and antigen related mutational activity. Our analysis of the clonal structure and mutational distribution of individuals’ repertoires shows that elderly subjects have a decreased number of lineages but an increased pre-vaccination mutation load in their repertoire and that some of these subjects have an oligoclonal character to their repertoire in which the diversity of the lineages is greatly reduced relative to younger subjects. We have thus shown that global analysis of the immune system’s clonal structure provides direct insight into the effects of vaccination and provides a detailed molecular portrait of age-related effects.
The discovery of lymphocytes bearing two light chains in mice carrying self-reactive antibody transgenes has challenged the “one lymphocyte–one antibody” rule. However, the extent and nature of allelically included cells in normal mice is unknown. We show that 10% of mature B cells coexpress both Igκ alleles. These cells are not the result of failure in allelic exclusion per se, but arise through receptor editing. We find that under physiological conditions, editing occurs both by deletion and by inclusion with equal probability. In addition, we demonstrate that B lymphocytes carrying two B-cell receptors are recruited to germinal center reactions, and thus fully participate in humoral immune responses. Our data measure the scope of allelic inclusion and provide a mechanism whereby autoreactive B cells might “escape” central tolerance.
During immune responses, antibodies are selected for their ability to bind to foreign antigens with high affinity, in part by their ability to undergo homotypic bivalent binding. However, this type of binding is not always possible. For example, the small number of gp140 glycoprotein spikes displayed on the surface of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV disfavours homotypic bivalent antibody binding1–3. Here we show that during the human antibody response to HIV, somatic mutations that increase antibody affinity also increase breadth and neutralizing potency. Surprisingly, the responding naive and memory B cells produce polyreactive antibodies, which are capable of bivalent heteroligation between one high-affinity anti-HIV-gp140 combining site and a second low-affinity site on another molecular structure on HIV. Although cross-reactivity to self-antigens or polyreactivity is strongly selected against during B-cell development4, it is a common serologic feature of certain infections in humans, including HIV, Epstein-Barr virus and hepatitis C virus. Seventy-five per cent of the 134 monoclonal anti-HIV-gp140 antibodies cloned from six patients5 with high titres of neutralizing antibodies are polyreactive. Despite the low affinity of the polyreactive combining site, heteroligation demonstrably increases the apparent affinity of polyreactive antibodies to HIV.
Determination of the origin and fate of autoreactive B cells is critical to understanding and treating autoimmune diseases. We report that, despite being derived from healthy people, antibodies from B cells that have class switched to IgD via genetic recombination (and thus become class switched to Cδ [Cδ-CS] cells) are highly reactive to self antigens. Over half of the antibodies from Cδ-CS B cells bind autoantigens on human epithelioma cell line 2 (HEp-2) cells or antinuclear antigens, and a quarter bind double-stranded DNA; both groups of antibodies are frequently polyreactive. Intriguingly, some Cδ-CS B cells have accumulated basic residues in the antibody variable regions that mediate anti-DNA reactivity via somatic hypermutation and selection, while other Cδ-CS B cells are naturally autoreactive. Though the total percentage was appreciably less than for Cδ-CS cells, a surprising 31% of IgG memory cell antibodies were somewhat autoreactive, and as expected, about 24% of naive cell antibodies were autoreactive. We interpret these findings to indicate either that autoreactive B cells can be induced to class switch to IgD or that autoreactive B cells that use IgD as the B cell receptor are not effectively deleted. Determination of the mechanism by which the majority of Cδ-CS B cells are autoreactive may be important in understanding peripheral tolerance mechanisms and may provide insight into the enigmatic function of the IgD antibody.
In order to identify the combination of antibody-mediated mechanisms of neutralization that result from vaccination with anthrax vaccine adsorbed (AVA), we isolated antibody secreting cells from a single donor seven days after booster vaccination with AVA and generated nine fully human monoclonal antibodies (hmAb) with high specificity for protective antigen (PA). Two of the antibodies were able to neutralize lethal toxin in vitro at low concentrations (IC50: p6C01, 0.12 µg/ml and p6F01, 0.45 µg/ml). Passive transfer of either of these hmAbs to A/J mice prior to challenge with lethal toxin conferred 80–90% protection. We demonstrate that hmAb p6C01 is neutralizing by preventing furin cleavage of PA in a dose-dependent manner, but the mechanism of p6F01 is unclear. Three additional antibodies were found to bind to domain 3 of PA and prevent oligomerization, although they did not confer significant protection in vivo and showed a significant prozone-like effect in vitro. These fully human antibodies provide insight into the neutralizing response to AVA for future subunit vaccine and passive immunotherapeutic cocktail design.
anthrax; Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed; human monoclonal antibodies; passive immunotherapeutics; protective antigen
It is believed that immunoglobulin-variable region gene (IgV) somatic hypermutation (SHM) is initiated by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) upon deamination of cytidine to deoxyuracil. Patch-excision repair of these lesions involving error prone DNA polymerases such as polη causes mutations at all base positions. If not repaired, the deaminated nucleotides on the coding and noncoding strands result in C-to-T and G-to-A exchanges, respectively. Herein it is reported that IgV gene evolution has been considerably influenced by the need to accommodate extensive C deaminations and the resulting accumulation of C-to-T and G-to-A exchanges. Although seemingly counterintuitive, the precise placement of C and G nucleotides causes most C-to-T and G-to-A mutations to be silent or conservative. We hypothesize that without intricate positioning of C and G nucleotides the efficiency of affinity maturation would be significantly reduced due to a dominance of replacements caused by C and G transition mutations. The complexity of these evolved biases in codon use are compounded by the precise concomitant hotspot/coldspot targeting of AID activity and Polη errors to maximize SHM in the CDRs and minimize mutations in the FWRs.
Since its first administration in the 1940s, the influenza vaccine has provided tremendous relief against influenza infections. However, time has revealed the vaccine’s ultimate limit and the call for its reinvention has now come, just as we are beginning to appreciate the antibody immune responses vital in preventing infections. New strategies to design the influenza vaccine rely on selectively inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies that are specific for highly conserved viral epitopes. Such approaches take us away from the limited range of protection provided by current seasonal influenza vaccines and towards a future with a pan-influenza vaccine capable of providing universal strain coverage.
Humoral immune responses are thought to play a major role in dengue virus-induced immunopathology; however, little is known about the plasmablasts producing these antibodies during an ongoing infection. Herein we present an analysis of plasmablast responses in patients with acute dengue virus infection. We found very potent plasmablast responses that often increased more than 1,000-fold over the baseline levels in healthy volunteers. In many patients, these responses made up as much 30% of the peripheral lymphocyte population. These responses were largely dengue virus specific and almost entirely made up of IgG-secreting cells, and plasmablasts reached very high numbers at a time after fever onset that generally coincided with the window where the most serious dengue virus-induced pathology is observed. The presence of these large, rapid, and virus-specific plasmablast responses raises the question as to whether these cells might have a role in dengue immunopathology during the ongoing infection. These findings clearly illustrate the need for a detailed understanding of the repertoire and specificity of the antibodies that these plasmablasts produce.