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Identification of antibodies targeting the H3N2 hemagglutinin receptor binding site following vaccination of humans

By Seth J. Zost, Juhye Lee, Megan E. Gumina, Kaela Parkhouse, Carole Henry, Patrick C Wilson, Jesse Bloom, Scott E. Hensley

Posted 19 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/675272 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.11.084)

Antibodies targeting the receptor binding site (RBS) of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein are usually not broadly-reactive because their footprints are typically large and extend to nearby variable HA residues. Here, we identified several human H3N2 HA RBS-targeting monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that were sensitive to substitutions in conventional antigenic sites and were not broadly-reactive. However, we also identified one H3N2 HA RBS-targeting mAb that was exceptionally broadly reactive despite being sensitive to substitutions in residues outside of the RBS. We determined that similar antibodies are present at measurable levels in the sera of some individuals but that they are inefficiently elicited by conventional vaccines. Our data indicate that some HA RBS-targeting antibodies can be surprisingly effective against variable viral strains even if they are somewhat sensitive to substitutions in HA residues adjacent to the RBS.

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