Towards a Hepatitis C Vaccine: the Structural Basis of Hepatitis C Virus Neutralization by AP33, a Broadly Neutralizing Antibody.

Biomedical Sciences Research Complex, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9ST, UK.
Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 4.65). 09/2012; DOI: 10.1128/JVI.02052-12
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The E2 envelope glycoprotein of HCV binds to the host entry factor CD81, and is the principal target for neutralizing antibodies (nAbs). Most nAbs recognize hypervariable region 1 on E2, which undergoes frequent mutation, thereby allowing the virus to evade neutralization. Consequently, there is great interest in nAbs that target conserved epitopes. One such nAb is AP33, a mouse monoclonal antibody that recognizes a conserved, linear epitope on E2 and potently neutralizes a broad range of HCV genotypes. In this study, the X-ray structure of AP33 Fab in complex with an epitope peptide spanning residues 412 to 423 of HCV E2 has been determined to 1.8Å. In the complex, the peptide adopts a β-hairpin conformation and docks into a deep binding pocket on the antibody. The major determinants of antibody recognition are E2 residues L413, N415, G418 and W420. The structure is compared to the recently described HCV1 Fab in complex with the same epitope. Interestingly, the antigen-binding sites of HCV1 and AP33 are completely different, whereas the peptide conformation is very similar in the two structures. Mutagenesis of the peptide-binding residues on AP33 confirmed that these residues are also critical for AP33 recognition of whole E2, confirming that the peptide-bound structure truly represents AP33 interaction with the intact glycoprotein. The slightly conformation-sensitive character of the AP33-E2 interaction was explored by cross-competition analysis and alanine-scanning mutagenesis. The structural details of this neutralizing epitope provide a starting point for the design of an immunogen capable of eliciting AP33-like antibodies.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains a global problem, despite advances in treatment. The low cost and high benefit of vaccines have made them the backbone of modern public health strategies, and the fight against HCV will not be won without an effective vaccine. Achievement of this goal will benefit from a robust understanding of virus-host interactions and protective immunity in HCV infection. In this review, we summarize recent findings on HCV-specific antibody responses associated with chronic and spontaneously resolving human infection. In addition, we discuss specific epitopes within HCV's envelope glycoproteins that are targeted by neutralizing antibodies. Understanding what prompts or prevents a successful immune response leading to viral clearance or persistence is essential to designing a successful vaccine.
    Frontiers in Immunology 11/2014; 5:550. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00550
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The lack of structural information on hepatitis C virus (HCV) surface proteins has so far hampered the development of effective vaccines. Recently, two crystallographic structures have described the core portion (E2c) of E2 surface glycoprotein, the primary mediator of HCV entry. Despite the importance of these studies, the E2 overall structure is still unknown and, most importantly, several biochemical and functional studies are in disagreement with E2c structures. Here, the main literature will be discussed and an alternative disulfide bridge pattern will be proposed, based on unpublished human monoclonal antibody reactivity. A modeling strategy aiming at recapitulating the available structural and functional studies of E2 will also be proposed.
    Drug Discovery Today 12/2014; 19(12). DOI:10.1016/j.drudis.2014.08.011 · 5.96 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A challenge for hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine development is to define epitopes that are able to elicit protective antibodies against this highly diverse virus. The E2 glycoprotein region located at residues 412-423 is conserved and antibodies to 412-423 have broadly neutralizing activities. However, an adaptive mutation, N417S, is associated with a glycan shift in a variant that cannot be neutralized by a murine but by human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) against 412-423. To determine whether HCV escapes from these antibodies, we analyzed variants that emerged when cell culture infectious HCV virions (HCVcc) were passaged under increasing concentrations of a specific HMAb, HC33.1. Multiple nonrandom escape pathways were identified. Two pathways occurred in the context of an N-glycan shift mutation at N417T. At low antibody concentrations, substitutions of two residues outside of the epitope, N434D and K610R, led to variants having improved in vitro viral fitness and reduced sensitivity to HC33.1 binding and neutralization. At moderate concentrations, a S419N mutation occurred within 412-423 in escape variants that have greatly reduced sensitivity to HC33.1 but compromised viral fitness. Importantly, the variants generated from these pathways differed in their stability. N434D and K610R-associated variants were stable and became dominant as the virions were passaged. The S419N mutation reverted back to N419S when immune pressure was reduced by removing HC33.1. At high antibody concentrations, a mutation at L413I was observed in variants that were resistant to HC33.1 neutralization. Collectively, the combination of multiple escape pathways enabled the virus to persist under a wide range of antibody concentrations. Moreover, these findings pose a different challenge to vaccine development beyond the identification of highly conserved epitopes. It will be necessary for a vaccine to induce high potency antibodies that prevent the formation of escape variants, which can co-exist with lower potency or levels of neutralizing activities.
    PLoS Pathogens 08/2014; 10(8):e1004297. DOI:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004297 · 8.14 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 22, 2014