The publication data currently available has been vetted by Vanderbilt faculty, staff, administrators and trainees. The data itself is retrieved directly from NCBI's PubMed and is automatically updated on a weekly basis to ensure accuracy and completeness.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a pathogen that causes outbreaks of respiratory illness across the world, mostly in children, and can be especially severe in those with asthma. Clusters of acute flaccid myelitis, a poliomyelitis-like neuromuscular weakness syndrome, often occur concurrent with EV-D68 respiratory outbreaks. Seroepidemiologic studies have found that the serum of nearly everyone older than 2 to 5 years contains anti-EV-D68 neutralizing antibodies, which suggests that EV-D68 is a ubiquitous pathogen of childhood. However, knowledge of the viral epitopes against which the humoral immune response is directed is only inferred from previous studies of related viruses. Although neutralizing antibodies protect newborn mice from lethal EV-D68 inoculation via nonphysiologic routes, cotton rats have a mixed phenotype of both benefit and possible exacerbation when inoculated intranasally. The human antibody response to EV-D68 needs to be studied further to clarify the role of antibodies in protection versus pathogenesis, which might differ among respiratory and neurologic disease phenotypes.
The four dengue virus (DENV) serotypes are mosquito-borne flaviviruses responsible for dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. People exposed to DENV develop antibodies (Abs) that strongly neutralize the serotype responsible for infection. Historically, infection with DENV serotype 4 (DENV4) has been less common and less studied than infections with the other three serotypes. However, DENV4 has been responsible for recent large and sustained epidemics in Asia and Latin America. The neutralizing antibody responses and the epitopes targeted against DENV4 have not been characterized in human infection. In this study, we mapped and characterized epitopes on DENV4 recognized by neutralizing antibodies in people previously exposed to DENV4 infections or to a live attenuated DENV4 vaccine. To study the fine specificity of DENV4 neutralizing human antibodies, B cells from two people exposed to DENV4 were immortalized and screened to identify DENV-specific clones. Two human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that neutralized DENV4 were isolated, and their epitopes were finely mapped using recombinant viruses and alanine scan mutation array techniques. Both antibodies bound to quaternary structure epitopes near the hinge region between envelope protein domain I (EDI) and EDII. In parallel, to characterize the serum neutralizing antibody responses, convalescence-phase serum samples from people previously exposed to primary DENV4 natural infections or a monovalent DENV4 vaccine were analyzed. Natural infection and vaccination also induced serum-neutralizing antibodies that targeted similar epitope domains at the EDI/II hinge region. These studies defined a target of neutralizing antigenic site on DENV4 targeted by human antibodies following natural infection or vaccination. The four serotypes of dengue virus are the causative agents of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. People exposed to primary DENV infections develop long-term neutralizing antibody responses, but these principally recognize only the infecting serotype. An effective vaccine against dengue should elicit long-lasting protective antibody responses to all four serotypes simultaneously. We and others have defined antigenic sites on the envelope (E) protein of viruses of dengue virus serotypes 1, 2, and 3 targeted by human neutralizing antibodies. The epitopes on DENV4 E protein targeted by the human neutralizing antibodies and the mechanisms of serotype 4 neutralization are poorly understood. Here, we report the properties of human antibodies that neutralize dengue virus serotype 4. People exposed to serotype 4 infections or a live attenuated serotype 4 vaccine developed neutralizing antibodies that bound to similar sites on the viral E protein. These studies have provided a foundation for developing and evaluating DENV4 vaccines.
Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.
Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging mosquito-transmitted flavivirus that can cause severe disease, including congenital birth defects during pregnancy. To develop candidate therapeutic agents against ZIKV, we isolated a panel of human monoclonal antibodies from subjects that were previously infected with ZIKV. We show that a subset of antibodies recognize diverse epitopes on the envelope (E) protein and exhibit potent neutralizing activity. One of the most inhibitory antibodies, ZIKV-117, broadly neutralized infection of ZIKV strains corresponding to African and Asian-American lineages. Epitope mapping studies revealed that ZIKV-117 recognized a unique quaternary epitope on the E protein dimer-dimer interface. We evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of ZIKV-117 in pregnant and non-pregnant mice. Monoclonal antibody treatment markedly reduced tissue pathology, placental and fetal infection, and mortality in mice. Thus, neutralizing human antibodies can protect against maternal-fetal transmission, infection and disease, and reveal important determinants for structure-based rational vaccine design efforts.
Structure-based design of vaccines, particularly the iterative optimization used so successfully in the structure-based design of drugs, has been a long-sought goal. We previously developed a first-generation vaccine antigen called DS-Cav1, comprising a prefusion-stabilized form of the fusion (F) glycoprotein, which elicits high-titer protective responses against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in mice and macaques. Here we report the improvement of DS-Cav1 through iterative cycles of structure-based design that significantly increased the titer of RSV-protective responses. The resultant second-generation 'DS2'-stabilized immunogens have their F subunits genetically linked, their fusion peptides deleted and their interprotomer movements stabilized by an additional disulfide bond. These DS2 immunogens are promising vaccine candidates with superior attributes, such as their lack of a requirement for furin cleavage and their increased antigenic stability against heat inactivation. The iterative structure-based improvement described here may have utility in the optimization of other vaccine antigens.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a significant cause of severe respiratory illness worldwide, particularly in infants, young children, and the elderly. Although no licensed vaccine is currently available, an engineered version of the metastable RSV fusion (F) surface glycoprotein-stabilized in the pre-fusion (pre-F) conformation by "DS-Cav1" mutations-elicits high titer RSV-neutralizing responses. Moreover, pre-F-specific antibodies, often against the neutralization-sensitive antigenic site Ø in the membrane-distal head region of trimeric F glycoprotein, comprise a substantial portion of the human response to natural RSV infection. To focus the vaccine-elicited response to antigenic site Ø, we designed a series of RSV F immunogens that comprised the membrane-distal head of the F glycoprotein in its pre-F conformation. These "head-only" immunogens formed monomers, dimers, and trimers. Antigenic analysis revealed that a majority of the 70 engineered head-only immunogens displayed reactivity to site Ø-targeting antibodies, which was similar to that of the parent RSV F DS-Cav1 trimers, often with increased thermostability. We evaluated four of these head-only immunogens in detail, probing their recognition by antibodies, their physical stability, structure, and immunogenicity. When tested in naïve mice, a head-only trimer, half the size of the parent RSV F trimer, induced RSV titers, which were statistically comparable to those induced by DS-Cav1. When used to boost DS-Cav1-primed mice, two head-only RSV F immunogens, a dimer and a trimer, boosted RSV-neutralizing titers to levels that were comparable to those boosted by DS-Cav1, although with higher site Ø-directed responses. Our results provide proof-of-concept for the ability of the smaller head-only RSV F immunogens to focus the vaccine-elicited response to antigenic site Ø. Decent primary immunogenicity, enhanced physical stability, potential ease of manufacture, and potent immunogenicity upon boosting suggest these head-only RSV F immunogens, engineered to retain the pre-fusion conformation, may have advantages as candidate RSV vaccines.
Human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) and human metapneumovirus (hMPV) are major causes of illness among children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. No vaccine has been licensed for protection against either of these viruses. We tested the ability of two Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus-based viral replicon particle (VEE-VRP) vaccines that express the hRSV or hMPV fusion (F) protein to confer protection against hRSV or hMPV in African green monkeys. Animals immunized with VEE-VRP vaccines developed RSV or MPV F-specific antibodies and serum neutralizing activity. Compared to control animals, immunized animals were better able to control viral load in the respiratory mucosa following challenge and had lower levels of viral genome in nasopharyngeal and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids. The high level of immunogenicity and protective efficacy induced by these vaccine candidates in nonhuman primates suggest that they hold promise for further development.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
We screened a panel of mouse and human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against chikungunya virus and identified several with inhibitory activity against multiple alphaviruses. Passive transfer of broadly neutralizing MAbs protected mice against infection by chikungunya, Mayaro, and O'nyong'nyong alphaviruses. Using alanine-scanning mutagenesis, loss-of-function recombinant proteins and viruses, and multiple functional assays, we determined that broadly neutralizing MAbs block multiple steps in the viral lifecycle, including entry and egress, and bind to a conserved epitope on the B domain of the E2 glycoprotein. A 16 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of a Fab fragment bound to CHIKV E2 B domain provided an explanation for its neutralizing activity. Binding to the B domain was associated with repositioning of the A domain of E2 that enabled cross-linking of neighboring spikes. Our results suggest that B domain antigenic determinants could be targeted for vaccine or antibody therapeutic development against multiple alphaviruses of global concern.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The emergence of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) as a cause of severe respiratory disease highlights the need for effective approaches to CoV vaccine development. Efforts focused solely on the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the viral Spike (S) glycoprotein may not optimize neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses. Here we show that immunogens based on full-length S DNA and S1 subunit protein elicit robust serum-neutralizing activity against several MERS-CoV strains in mice and non-human primates. Serological analysis and isolation of murine monoclonal antibodies revealed that immunization elicits NAbs to RBD and, non-RBD portions of S1 and S2 subunit. Multiple neutralization mechanisms were demonstrated by solving the atomic structure of a NAb-RBD complex, through sequencing of neutralization escape viruses and by constructing MERS-CoV S variants for serological assays. Immunization of rhesus macaques confers protection against MERS-CoV-induced radiographic pneumonia, as assessed using computerized tomography, supporting this strategy as a promising approach for MERS-CoV vaccine development.
Cross-species transmission of zoonotic coronaviruses (CoVs) can result in pandemic disease outbreaks. Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV), identified in 2012, has caused 182 cases to date, with ~43% mortality, and no small animal model has been reported. MERS-CoV and Pipistrellus bat coronavirus (BtCoV) strain HKU5 of Betacoronavirus (β-CoV) subgroup 2c share >65% identity at the amino acid level in several regions, including nonstructural protein 5 (nsp5) and the nucleocapsid (N) protein, which are significant drug and vaccine targets. BtCoV HKU5 has been described in silico but has not been shown to replicate in culture, thus hampering drug and vaccine studies against subgroup 2c β-CoVs. We report the synthetic reconstruction and testing of BtCoV HKU5 containing the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV spike (S) glycoprotein ectodomain (BtCoV HKU5-SE). This virus replicates efficiently in cell culture and in young and aged mice, where the virus targets airway and alveolar epithelial cells. Unlike some subgroup 2b SARS-CoV vaccines that elicit a strong eosinophilia following challenge, we demonstrate that BtCoV HKU5 and MERS-CoV N-expressing Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particle (VRP) vaccines do not cause extensive eosinophilia following BtCoV HKU5-SE challenge. Passage of BtCoV HKU5-SE in young mice resulted in enhanced virulence, causing 20% weight loss, diffuse alveolar damage, and hyaline membrane formation in aged mice. Passaged virus was characterized by mutations in the nsp13, nsp14, open reading frame 5 (ORF5) and M genes. Finally, we identified an inhibitor active against the nsp5 proteases of subgroup 2c β-CoVs. Synthetic-genome platforms capable of reconstituting emerging zoonotic viral pathogens or their phylogenetic relatives provide new strategies for identifying broad-based therapeutics, evaluating vaccine outcomes, and studying viral pathogenesis. IMPORTANCE The 2012 outbreak of MERS-CoV raises the specter of another global epidemic, similar to the 2003 SARS-CoV epidemic. MERS-CoV is related to BtCoV HKU5 in target regions that are essential for drug and vaccine testing. Because no small animal model exists to evaluate MERS-CoV pathogenesis or to test vaccines, we constructed a recombinant BtCoV HKU5 that expressed a region of the SARS-CoV spike (S) glycoprotein, thereby allowing the recombinant virus to grow in cell culture and in mice. We show that this recombinant virus targets airway epithelial cells and causes disease in aged mice. We use this platform to (i) identify a broad-spectrum antiviral that can potentially inhibit viruses closely related to MERS-CoV, (ii) demonstrate the absence of increased eosinophilic immune pathology for MERS-CoV N protein-based vaccines, and (iii) mouse adapt this virus to identify viral genetic determinants of cross-species transmission and virulence. This study holds significance as a strategy to control newly emerging viruses.
Live, attenuated RNA virus vaccines are efficacious but subject to reversion to virulence. Among RNA viruses, replication fidelity is recognized as a key determinant of virulence and escape from antiviral therapy; increased fidelity is attenuating for some viruses. Coronavirus (CoV) replication fidelity is approximately 20-fold greater than that of other RNA viruses and is mediated by a 3'→5' exonuclease (ExoN) activity that probably functions in RNA proofreading. In this study we demonstrate that engineered inactivation of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV ExoN activity results in a stable mutator phenotype with profoundly decreased fidelity in vivo and attenuation of pathogenesis in young, aged and immunocompromised mice. The ExoN inactivation genotype and mutator phenotype are stable and do not revert to virulence, even after serial passage or long-term persistent infection in vivo. ExoN inactivation has potential for broad applications in the stable attenuation of CoVs and, perhaps, other RNA viruses.