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Nature. 1986 May 15-21;321(6067):244-6.

A new mechanism for the neutralization of enveloped viruses by antiviral antibody.


Despite the considerable research that has been carried out into viral neutralization by antiviral antibody, its mechanisms remain poorly understood. Cases have been reported in which antiviral antibody can inhibit viral replication without inhibiting the binding and uptake of virus by susceptible cells. It has been shown that many enveloped viruses enter their target cells by endocytosis and are subsequently located in cellular compartments of increasing acidity. With several enveloped viruses this acidic pH can catalyse a fusion reaction between the membrane of the virus particle and that of a prelysosomal endosome, thus enabling the viral core to enter the cytosol and replication to commence. We have recently demonstrated that such an endosomal fusion event at mild acidic pH is involved in the entry pathway of the enveloped flavivirus, West Nile virus (WNV), into macrophages. We now show that antiviral antibody can neutralize WNV by inhibiting this intraendosomal acid-catalysed fusion step and we speculate on possible implications for the future design of antiviral vaccines.

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