Apr 17, 2020

Structure-based design of hepatitis C virus E2 glycoprotein improves serum binding and cross-neutralization

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
B. PierceSteven Foung

Abstract

An effective vaccine for hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major unmet need, and it requires an antigen that elicits immune responses to key conserved epitopes. Based on structures of antibodies targeting HCV envelope glycoprotein E2, we designed immunogens to modulate the structure and dynamics of E2 and favor induction of bNAbs in the context of a vaccine. These designs include a point mutation in a key conserved antigenic site to stabilize its conformation, as well as redesigns of an immunogenic region to add a new N-glycosylation site and mask it from antibody binding. Designs were experimentally characterized for binding to a panel of human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) and the coreceptor CD81 to confirm preservation of epitope structure and preferred antigenicity profile. Selected E2 designs were tested for immunogenicity in mice, with and without hypervariable region 1, which is an immunogenic region associated with viral escape. One of these designs showed improvement in polyclonal immune serum binding to HCV pseudoparticles and neutralization of isolates associated with antibody resistance. These results indicate that antigen optimization through structure-based design of the envelope glycoproteins is a promising route to a...Continue Reading

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