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J Virol. 2013 May;87(10):5831-40. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00273-13. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

Identification of dominant antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity epitopes on the hemagglutinin antigen of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus.

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Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


Antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) bridges innate and adaptive immunity, and it involves both humoral and cellular immune responses. ADCC has been found to be a main route of immune protection against viral infections in vivo. Hemagglutinin (HA) of influenza virus is highly immunogenic and considered the most important target for immune protection. Several potent cross-reactive HA-specific neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) have been reported, and their conserved neutralizing epitopes have been revealed, but there has been no report so far about ADCC epitopes on HA. Here we identified two dominant ADCC epitopes, designated E1 (amino acids [aa] 92 to 117) and E2 (aa 124 to 159), on HA of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus by epitope mapping of convalescent-phase plasma IgG antibodies from six H1N1-infected human subjects in China that exhibited different levels of ADCC activity. The E1 and E2 ADCC epitopes overlapped with immunodominant epitopes of HA. Depletion of purified patient plasma IgG antibodies with EBY100 yeast cells expressing E1 or E2 decreased the ADCC activity of the IgG antibodies. E1 and E2 sequences were found to be highly conserved in H1N1 strains but less so in other subtypes of influenza A viruses. Our study may aid in designing immunogens that can elicit antibodies with high ADCC activity. Vaccine immunogens designed to include the structural determinants of potent broadly neutralizing antibodies and ADCC epitopes may confer comprehensive immune protection against influenza virus infection.

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