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Canonical features of human antibodies recognizing the influenza hemagglutinin trimer interface

By Seth J. Zost, Jinhui Dong, Iuliia Gilchuk, Pavlo Gilchuk, Natalie J. Thornburg, Sandhya Bangaru, Nurgun Kose, Jessica A. Finn, Robin Bombardi, Cinque Soto, Rachel Nargi, Ryan P. Irving, Naveenchandra Suryadevara, Jonna B. Westover, Robert H Carnahan, Hannah L Turner, Sheng Li, Andrew Ward, James E. Crowe

Posted 03 Jan 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.31.424868

Broadly reactive antibodies targeting the influenza A hemagglutinin (HA) head domain are thought to be rare and to require extensive somatic mutations or unusual structural features to achieve breadth against divergent HA subtypes. Here we describe common genetic and structural features of diverse human antibodies from several individuals recognizing the trimer interface (TI) of the influenza HA head, a recently identified site of vulnerability1-3. We examined the sequence of TI-reactive antibodies, determined crystal structures for TI antibody-antigen complexes, and analyzed the contact residues of the antibodies on HA to discover common genetic and structural features of TI antibodies. Our data reveal that many TI antibodies are encoded by a light chain variable gene segment incorporating a shared somatic mutation. In addition, these antibodies have a shared acidic residue in the heavy chain despite originating from diverse heavy chain variable gene segments. These studies show that the TI region of influenza HA is a major antigenic site with conserved structural features that are recognized by a common human B cell public clonotype. The canonical nature of this antibody-antigen interaction suggests that the TI epitope might serve as an important new target for structure-based vaccine design.

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