Migration of the Swine Influenza Virus -Cluster Hemagglutinin N-Linked Glycosylation Site from N142 to N144 Results in Loss of Antibody Cross-Reactivity

Newport Laboratories, Worthington, MO, USA.
Clinical and vaccine Immunology: CVI (Impact Factor: 2.47). 07/2012; 19(9):1457-64. DOI: 10.1128/CVI.00096-12
Source: PubMed


Routine antigenic characterization of swine influenza virus isolates in a high-throughput serum neutralization (HTSN) assay found that approximately 20% of isolates were not neutralized by a panel of reference antisera. Genetic analysis revealed that nearly all of the neutralization-resistant isolates possessed a seasonal human-lineage hemagglutinin (HA; δ cluster). Subsequent sequencing analysis of full-length HA identified a conserved N144 residue present only in neutralization-resistant strains. N144 lies in a predicted N-linked glycosylation consensus sequence, i.e., N-X-S/T (where X is any amino acid except for proline). Interestingly, neutralization-sensitive viruses all had predicted N-linked glycosylation sites at N137 or N142, with threonine (T) occupying position 144 of HA. Consistent with the HTSN assay, hemagglutination inhibition (HI) and serum neutralization (SN) assays demonstrated that migration of the potential N-linked glycosylation site from N137 or N142 to N144 resulted in a >8-fold decrease in titers. These results were further confirmed in a reverse genetics system where syngeneic viruses varying only by predicted N-glycosylation sites at either N142 or N144 exhibited distinct antigenic characteristics like those observed in field isolates. Molecular modeling of the hemagglutinin protein containing N142 or N144 in complex with a neutralizing antibody suggested that N144-induced potential glycosylation may sterically hinder access of antibodies to the hemagglutinin head domain, allowing viruses to escape neutralization. Since N-linked glycosylation at these sites has been implicated in genetic and antigenic evolution of human influenza A viruses, we conclude that the relocation of the hemagglutinin N-linked glycosylation site from N142 to N144 renders swine influenza virus δ-cluster viruses resistant to antibody-mediated neutralization.

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