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J Immunol. 2011 Jan 15;186(2):1022-31. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0902147. Epub 2010 Dec 17.

Universal vaccine based on ectodomain of matrix protein 2 of influenza A: Fc receptors and alveolar macrophages mediate protection.

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Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, Flanders Institute of Biotechnology (VIB), B-9052 Ghent, Belgium.


The ectodomain of matrix protein 2 (M2e) of influenza A virus is an attractive target for a universal influenza A vaccine: the M2e sequence is highly conserved across influenza virus subtypes, and induced humoral anti-M2e immunity protects against a lethal influenza virus challenge in animal models. Clinical phase I studies with M2e vaccine candidates have been completed. However, the in vivo mechanism of immune protection induced by M2e-carrier vaccination is unclear. Using passive immunization experiments in wild-type, FcRγ(-/-), FcγRI(-/-), FcγRIII(-/-), and (FcγRI, FcγRIII)(-/-) mice, we report in this study that Fc receptors are essential for anti-M2e IgG-mediated immune protection. M2e-specific IgG1 isotype Abs are shown to require functional FcγRIII for in vivo immune protection but other anti-M2e IgG isotypes can rescue FcγRIII(-/-) mice from a lethal challenge. Using a conditional cell depletion protocol, we also demonstrate that alveolar macrophages (AM) play a crucial role in humoral M2e-specific immune protection. Additionally, we show that adoptive transfer of wild-type AM into (FcγRI, FcγRIII)(-/-) mice restores protection by passively transferred anti-M2e IgG. We conclude that AM and Fc receptor-dependent elimination of influenza A virus-infected cells are essential for protection by anti-M2e IgG.

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