Influenza A virus (IAV) strains are denoted by the subtype of their hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) virion surface proteins. Major changes in HA subtype among strains circulating in humans are referred to as “antigenic shift”. Antigenic shift can occur by two means; direct transmission of a zoonotic strain to humans or through reshuffling of the segmented genome in cells co-infected with animal and human strains. The lack of circulating anti-HA antibodies in human populations to a novel IAV results in extremely high frequency of illness and the potential for severe morbidity and mortality on a world-wide basis; the dreaded pandemic. Such pandemics could be partially controlled by developing a vaccine that generates effective heterosubtypic immunity (HSI) based on immune recognition of IAV antigens conserved across all viral strains. While it has long been known that T cells exhibit such broad cross-reactive specificity that could provide effective HSI, recent animal studies suggest a potential role for antibodies as well. Here we review current knowledge of the mechanisms contributing to HSI to influenza and speculate on the potential for this approach to contribute to public health.
Influenza A Virus; heterosubtypic immunity; antibodies; T-cells
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.
Human influenza A virus (IAV) vaccination is limited by “antigenic drift,” rapid antibody-driven escape reflecting amino acid substitutions in the globular domain of hemagglutinin (HA), the viral attachment protein. To better understand drift, we used anti-hemagglutinin monoclonal Abs (mAbs) to sequentially select IAV escape mutants. Twelve selection steps, each resulting in a single amino acid substitution in the hemagglutinin globular domain, were required to eliminate antigenicity defined by monoclonal or polyclonal Abs. Sequential mutants grow robustly, showing the structural plasticity of HA, although several hemagglutinin substitutions required an epistatic substitution in the neuraminidase glycoprotein to maximize growth. Selecting escape mutants from parental versus sequential variants with the same mAb revealed distinct escape repertoires, attributed to contextual changes in antigenicity and the mutation landscape. Since each hemagglutinin mutation potentially sculpts future mutation space, drift can follow many stochastic paths, undermining its unpredictability and underscoring the need for drift-insensitive vaccines.
We previously described the RiboPuromyclation method (RPM) to visualize and quantitate translating ribosomes in fixed and permeabilized cells by standard immunofluorescence. RPM is based on puromycylation of nascent chains bound to translating ribosomes followed by detection of puromycylated nascent chains with a puromycin-specific mAb. We now demonstrate that emetine optimally enhances nascent chain puromycylation, and describe a modified RPM protocol for identifying ribosome-bound nascent chains in metabolically inert permeabilized cells.
ribopuromycylation; puromycin; translation; ribosome
Influenza A virus (IAV) remains an important human pathogen largely because of antigenic drift, the rapid emergence of antibody escape mutants that precludes durable vaccination. The most potent neutralizing antibodies interact with cognate epitopes in the globular “head” domain of hemagglutinin (HA), a homotrimeric glycoprotein. The H1 HA possesses five distinct regions defined by a large number of mouse monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), i.e., Ca1, Ca2, Cb, Sa, and Sb. Ca1-Ca2 sites require HA trimerization to attain full antigenicity, consistent with their locations on opposite sides of the trimer interface. Here, we show that full antigenicity of Cb and Sa sites also requires HA trimerization, as revealed by immunofluorescence microscopy of IAV-infected cells and biochemically by pulse-chase radiolabeling experiments. Surprisingly, epitope antigenicity acquired by HA trimerization persists following acid triggering of the globular domains dissociation and even after proteolytic release of monomeric heads from acid-treated HA. Thus, the requirement for HA trimerization by trimer-specific MAbs mapping to the Ca, Cb, and Sa sites is not dependent upon the bridging of adjacent monomers in the native HA trimer. Rather, complete antigenicity of HA (and, by inference, immunogenicity) requires a final folding step that accompanies its trimerization. Once this conformational change occurs, HA trimers themselves would not necessarily be required to induce a highly diverse neutralizing response to epitopes in the globular domain.
Despite extensive ex vivo investigation, the spatiotemporal organization of immune cells interacting with virus-infected cells in tissues remains uncertain. To address this, we used intravital multiphoton microscopy to visualize immune cell interactions with virus-infected cells following epicutaneous vaccinia virus (VV) infection of mice. VV infects keratinocytes in epidermal foci, and numerous migratory dermal inflammatory monocytes outlying the foci. We observed Ly6G+ innate immune cells infiltrating and controlling foci, while CD8+ T cells remained on the periphery killing infected monocytes. Most antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in the skin did not interact with virus-infected cells. Blocking the generation of reactive nitrogen species relocated CD8+ T cells into foci, modestly reducing viral titers. Depletion of Ly6G+ and CD8+ cells dramatically increased viral titers, consistent with their synergistic but spatially segregated viral clearance activities. These findings highlight previously unappreciated differences in the anatomic specialization of antiviral immune cell subsets.
Influenza A virus (IAV) infects a remarkably wide variety of avian and mammalian hosts. Evolution finely hones IAV genes to optimally infect and be transmitted in a particular host species. Sporadically, IAV manages to jump between species, introducing novel antigenic strains into the new host population that wreak havoc until herd immunity develops. IAV adaptation to new hosts typically involves reassortment of IAV gene segments from coinfecting virus strains adapted to different hosts in conjunction with multiple adaptive mutations in the various IAV genes. To better understand host adaptation between mammalian species in real time, we passaged mouse-adapted A/PR8/34 (PR8) in guinea pigs. Guinea pigs, unlike mice, support spontaneous and robust IAV transmission. For some IAV strains, including PR8, adaptation is required for a virus to attain transmissibility, providing an opportunity to understand the evolution of transmissibility in guinea pigs. Multiple guinea pig-adapted PR8 mutants generated by serial nasal wash passaging in independent lines replicated more efficiently and were transmitted by cocaging. All transmissible variants possessed one of two nonsynonymous mutations in M1, either alone or in combination with mutations in PB2, HA, NP, or NA. Rapid reassortment between independently selected variants combined beneficial mutations in NP and M1 to form the fittest virus capable of being transmitted. These findings provide further insight into genetic determinants in NP and M1 involved in PR8 IAV adaptation to be transmitted in a new host and clearly show the benefit of a segmented genome in rapidly generating optimal combinations of mutations in IAV evolution.
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.
CD8+ T cells (TCD8) confer protective immunity against many infectious diseases, suggesting that microbial TCD8 determinants are promising vaccine targets. Nevertheless, current T cell antigen identification approaches do not discern which epitopes drive protective immunity during active infection — information that is critical for the rational design of TCD8-targeted vaccines. We employed a proteomics-based approach for large-scale discovery of naturally processed determinants derived from a complex pathogen, vaccinia virus (VACV), that are presented by the most frequent representatives of four major HLA class I supertypes. Immunologic characterization revealed that many previously unidentified VACV determinants were recognized by smallpox-vaccinated human peripheral blood cells in a variegated manner. Many such determinants were recognized by HLA class I–transgenic mouse immune TCD8 too and elicited protective TCD8 immunity against lethal intranasal VACV infection. Notably, efficient processing and stable presentation of immune determinants as well as the availability of naive TCD8 precursors were sufficient to drive a multifunctional, protective TCD8 response. Our approach uses fundamental insights into T cell epitope processing and presentation to define targets of protective TCD8 immunity within human pathogens that have complex proteomes, suggesting that this approach has general applicability in vaccine sciences.
Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are central to protein synthesis and impact translational speed and
fidelity by their abundance. Here we examine the extent to which viruses manipulate tRNA
populations to favor translation of their own genes. We study two very different viruses:
influenza A virus (IAV), a medium-sized (13 kB genome) RNA virus; and vaccinia virus (VV),
a large (200 kB genome) DNA virus. We show that the total cellular tRNA population remains
unchanged following viral infection, whereas the polysome-associated tRNA population
changes dramatically in a virus-specific manner. The changes in polysome-associated tRNA
levels reflect the codon usage of viral genes, suggesting the existence of local tRNA
pools optimized for viral translation.
A new method for visualizing translation in cells via standard immunofluorescence microscopy provides evidence for translation in the nucleoplasm and nucleolus.
Whether protein translation occurs in the nucleus is contentious. To address this question, we developed the ribopuromycylation method (RPM), which visualizes translation in cells via standard immunofluorescence microscopy. The RPM is based on ribosome-catalyzed puromycylation of nascent chains immobilized on ribosomes by antibiotic chain elongation inhibitors followed by detection of puromycylated ribosome-bound nascent chains with a puromycin (PMY)-specific monoclonal antibody in fixed and permeabilized cells. The RPM correlates localized translation with myriad processes in cells and can be applied to any cell whose translation is sensitive to PMY. In this paper, we use the RPM to provide evidence for translation in the nucleoplasm and nucleolus, which is regulated by infectious and chemical stress.
To understand better the endogenous sources of MHC class I peptide ligands, we generated an antigenic reporter protein whose degradation is rapidly and reversibly controlled with Shield-1, a cell-permeant drug. Using this system, we demonstrate that defective ribosomal products (DRiPs) represent a major and highly efficient source of peptides and are completely resistant to our attempts to stabilize the protein. Although peptides also derive from nascent Shield-1–sensitive proteins and “retirees” created by Shield-1 withdrawal, these are much less efficient sources on a molar basis. We use this system to identify two drugs—each known to inhibit polyubiquitin chain disassembly—that selectively inhibit presentation of Shield-1–resistant DRiPs. These findings provide the initial evidence for distinct biochemical pathways for presentation of DRiPs versus retirees and implicate polyubiquitin chain disassembly or the actions of deubiquitylating enzymes as playing an important role in DRiP presentation.
No anti-viral vaccine is perfect. For some important pathogens, there are no effective vaccines. Many current vaccines are based on the working principles of Jenner and Pasteur, i.e. empiric administration of attenuated or inactivated forms of the pathogen. Tapping the full potential of vaccination requires a thorough understanding of the mechanism of immune activation by pathogens and their individual components. Though the rate of discovery continues to accelerate, the complexity of the immune system is daunting, particularly when integrated into the overall physiology of the host. Here, we review the application of multiphoton microscopy to examine host-pathogen interactions, focusing on our recent efforts to understand mouse CD8+ T-cell responses to viruses at the level of cellular interactions in lymph nodes draining the infection site. We also discuss our recent efforts to understand the influence of the sympathetic nervous system on antiviral immunity, with the ultimate goal of appreciating the traditional elements of immunity as just one facet of the total organismal response to infection and immunization.
intravital microscopy; sympathetic nervous system; T cell; vaccine; virus
Following viral infection, cells rapidly present peptides from newly synthesized viral proteins on MHC class I molecules, likely from rapidly degraded forms of nascent proteins. The nature of these defective ribosomal products (DRiPs) remains largely undefined. Using inhibitors of RNA polymerase II that block influenza A virus neuraminidase (NA) mRNA export from the nucleus and inhibit cytoplasmic NA translation, we demonstrate a surprising disconnect between levels of NA translation and generation of SIINFEKL peptide genetically inserted into the NA stalk. A 33-fold reduction in NA expression is accompanied by only a 5-fold reduction in Kb-SIINFEKL complex cell-surface expression, resulting in a net 6-fold increase in the overall efficiency of Ag presentation. Although the proteasome inhibitor MG132 completely blocked Kb-SIINFEKL complex generation, we were unable to biochemically detect a MG132-dependent cohort of NA DRiPs relevant for Ag processing, suggesting that a minute population of DRiPs is a highly efficient source of antigenic peptides. These data support the idea that Ag processing uses compartmentalized translation, perhaps even in the nucleus itself, to increase the efficiency of the generation of class I peptide ligands.
It has been 15 years since we proposed the defective ribosomal product (DRiP) hypothesis to explain the rapid presentation of viral peptides by MHC class I molecules on the surface of infected cells. Here, we review the evidence for the contribution of DRiPs to antigen processing, pointing to the uncertainties regarding the physical nature of DRiPs, and emphasizing recent findings suggesting that peptide generation is a specialized process involving compartmentalized translation.
Antigen processing; MHC class I; Proteasome; Translation; Virus
CCR5-binding chemokines produced in the draining lymph node after vaccinia virus infection guide naive CD8+ T cells toward DCs and away from the macrophage-rich zone, thereby facilitating optimal CD8+ T cell activation and cytokine production.
Naive antiviral CD8+ T cells are activated in the draining LN (DLN) by dendritic cells (DCs) presenting viral antigens. However, many viruses infect LN macrophages, which participate in initiation of innate immunity and B cell activation. To better understand how and why T cells select infected DCs rather than macrophages, we performed intravital microscopy and ex vivo analyses after infecting mice with vaccinia virus (VV), a large DNA virus that infects both LN macrophages and DCs. Although CD8+ T cells interact with both infected macrophages and DCs in the LN peripheral interfollicular region (PIR), DCs generate more frequent and stable interactions with T cells. VV infection induces rapid release of CCR5-binding chemokines in the LN, and administration of chemokine-neutralizing antibodies diminishes T cell activation by increasing T cell localization to macrophages in the macrophage-rich region (MRR) at the expense of PIR DCs. Similarly, DC ablation increases both T cell localization to the MRR and the duration of T cell–macrophage contacts, resulting in suboptimal T cell activation. Thus, virus-induced chemokines in DLNs enable antiviral CD8+ T cells to distinguish DCs from macrophages to optimize T cell priming.
Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) are critical components of protein translation, providing ribosomes with aminoacyl-tRNAs. In return, ribosomes release uncharged tRNAs as ARS substrates. Here, we show that tRNA deacylation can be uncoupled from protein synthesis in an amino acid specific manner. While tRNAs coupled to radiolabeled Met, Leu Lys, or Ser are stable in cells following translation inhibition with arsenite, radiolabeled Cys is released from tRNA at a high rate. We discuss possible translation independent functions for tRNACys.
Proteasomes are multisubunit proteases that initiate degradation of many Ags presented by MHC class I molecules. Vertebrates express alternate forms of each of the three catalytic proteasome subunits: standard subunits, and immunosubunits, which are constitutively expressed by APCs and are induced in other cell types by exposure to cytokines. The assembly of mixed proteasomes containing standard subunits and immunosubunits is regulated in a tissue specific manner. In this study, we report that the presence of mixed proteasomes in immune cells in LMP2−/− mice compromises multiple components that contribute to the generation of antiviral Ab responses, including splenic B cell numbers, survival and function of adoptively transferred B cells, Th cell function, and dendritic cell secretion of IL-6, TNF-α, IL-1β, and type I IFNs. These defects did not result from compromised overall protein degradation, rather they were associated with altered NF-κB activity. These findings demonstrate an important role for immunoproteasomes in immune cell function beyond their contribution to Ag processing.
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.
The defective ribosomal product (DRiP) hypothesis of endogenous Ag processing posits that rapidly degraded forms of nascent proteins are a major source of peptide ligands for MHC class I molecules. Although there is broad experimental support for the DRiP hypothesis, careful kinetic analysis of the generation of defined peptide class I complexes has been limited to studies of recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing genes derived from other organisms. In this study, we show that insertion of the SIIN-FEKL peptide into the stalk of influenza A virus neuraminidase (NA) does not detectably modify NA folding, degradation, transport, or sp. act. when expressed in its natural context of influenza A virus infection. Using the 25-D1.16 mAb specific for Kb-SIINFEKL to precisely quantitate cell surface complexes by flow cytometry, we demonstrate that SIINFEKL is generated in complete lockstep with initiation and abrogation of NA biosynthesis in both L-Kb fibroblast cells and DC2.4 dendritic/monocyte cells. SIINFEKL presentation requires active proteasomes and TAP, consistent with its generation from a cytosolic DRiP pool. From the difference in the shutoff kinetics of Kb-SIINFEKL complex expression following protein synthesis versus proteasome inhibition, we estimate that the t1/2 of the biosynthetic source of NA peptide is ~5 min. These observations extend the relevance of the DRiP hypothesis to viral proteins generated in their natural context.
Although the sympathetic nervous system innervates the lung, little is known about its participation in host immunity to pulmonary pathogens. In this study, we show that peripheral sympathectomy reduces mouse morbidity and mortality from influenza A virus-induced pneumonia due to reduced inflammatory influx of monocytes, neutrophils, and NK cells. Mortality was also delayed by treating mice with an α-adrenergic antagonist. Sympathectomy diminished the immediate innate cytokine responses, particularly IL-1, which was profoundly reduced. These findings demonstrate an unexpected role for the sympathetic nervous system in innate antiviral immunity and in exacerbating the pathology of a virus of great significance to human and animal health.
Antigenic drift in the influenza A virus hemagglutinin (HA) is responsible for seasonal reformulation of influenza vaccines. Here, we address an important and largely overlooked issue in antigenic drift: how does the number and location of glycosylation sites affect HA evolution in man? We analyzed the glycosylation status of all full-length H1 subtype HA sequences available in the NCBI influenza database. We devised the “flow index” (FI), a simple algorithm that calculates the tendency for viruses to gain or lose consensus glycosylation sites. The FI predicts the predominance of glycosylation states among existing strains. Our analyses show that while the number of glycosylation sites in the HA globular domain does not influence the overall magnitude of variation in defined antigenic regions, variation focuses on those regions unshielded by glycosylation. This supports the conclusion that glycosylation generally shields HA from antibody-mediated neutralization, and implies that fitness costs in accommodating oligosaccharides limit virus escape via HA hyperglycosylation.
Influenza A virus is highly susceptible to neutralizing antibodies specific for the viral hemagglutinin glycoprotein (HA), and is easily controlled by standard vaccines. Influenza A virus remains an important human pathogen, however, due to its ability to rapidly evade antibody responses. This process, termed antigenic drift, is due to the accumulation of amino acid substitutions that modify HA antigenic sites recognized by neutralizing antibodies. In this study, we perform bioinformatic analysis on thousands of influenza A virus isolates to better understand the influence of N-linked glycosylation on antigenic drift. HA from human IAV isolates can accommodate up to 6 oligosaccharides in its globular domain. We show that for H1, H2, and to a somewhat less extent H3, HAs, the number of glycosylation sites in the globular domain does not greatly modify the total degree of variation in antigenic sites, but rather focuses variation on sites whose access to antibodies is unaffected by glycosylation. Our findings imply that glycosylation protects HA from antibody neutralization, but functional impairment limits the number of oligosaccharides that HA can accommodate.
Rapid antigenic evolution in the influenza A virus hemagglutinin precludes effective vaccination with existing vaccines. To understand this phenomenon, we passaged virus in mice immunized with influenza. Neutralizing antibodies selected mutants with single amino acid hemagglutinin substitutions that increased virus binding to cell surface glycan receptors. Passaging these high avidity-binding mutants in naïve mice, but not immune mice, selected for additional hemagglutinin substitutions that decreased cellular receptor binding avidity. Analyzing a panel of monoclonal antibody hemagglutinin escape mutants revealed a positive correlation between receptor binding avidity and escape from polyclonal antibodies. We propose that in response to variation in neutralizing antibody pressure between individuals, influenza A virus evolves by adjusting receptor binding avidity via amino acid substitutions throughout the hemagglutinin globular domain, many of which simultaneously alter antigenicity.
Cross-priming, the activation of naive CD8+ T cells by dendritic cells presenting Ags synthesized by other cells, is believed to play an important role in the generation of antiviral and antitumor responses. The molecular mechanism(s) underlying cross-priming remain poorly defined and highly controversial. GRP94 (gp96), an abundant endoplasmic reticulum chaperone with innate immune-activating capacity, has been widely reported to play a major role in cross-priming. In this study, we show that cells whose expression of GRP94 is silenced via transient or stable transfection with GRP94-directed small interfering RNAs demonstrate no reduction in their abilities to generate class I peptide complexes in cultured cells or to prime antiviral CD8+ T cell responses in vivo. In demonstrating the dispensability of GRP94, our finding points to the importance of alternative mechanisms for generation of class I peptide complexes from endogenous and exogenous Ags and immunogens.