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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e38126. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038126. Epub 2012 May 25.

The epitope and neutralization mechanism of AVFluIgG01, a broad-reactive human monoclonal antibody against H5N1 influenza virus.

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  • 1MOH Key Laboratory of Systems Biology of Pathogens, Institute of Pathogen Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.


The continued spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus underscores the importance of effective antiviral approaches. AVFluIgG01 is a potent and broad-reactive H5N1-neutralizing human monoclonal antibody (mAb) showing great potential for use either for therapeutic purposes or as a basis of vaccine development, but its antigenic epitope and neutralization mechanism have not been finely characterized. In this study, we first demonstrated that AVFluIgG01 targets a novel conformation-dependent epitope in the globular head region of H5N1 hemagglutinin (HA). By selecting mimotopes from a random peptide library in combination with computational algorithms and site-directed mutagenesis, the epitope was mapped to three conserved discontinuous sites (I-III) that are located closely at the three-dimensional structure of HA. Further, we found that this HA1-specific human mAb can efficiently block both virus-receptor binding and post-attachment steps, while its Fab fragment exerts the post-attachment inhibition only. Consistently, AVFluIgG01 could inhibit HA-mediated cell-cell membrane fusion at a dose-dependent manner and block the acquisition of pH-induced protease sensitivity. These results suggest a neutralization mechanism of AVFluIgG01 by simultaneously blocking viral attachment to the receptors on host cells and interfering with HA conformational rearrangements associated with membrane fusion. The presented data provide critical information for developing novel antiviral therapeutics and vaccines against HPAI H5N1 virus.

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