A recombinant Hepatitis C Virus genotype 1a E1/E2 envelope glycoprotein vaccine elicits antibodies that differentially neutralize closely related 2a strains through interactions of the n-terminal hypervariable region 1 of E2 with scavenger receptor B1

Janelle Johnson, Holly Freedman, Michael Logan, Jason Alexander Ji Xhin Wong, Darren Hockman, Chao Chen, Jianqi He, Michael R. Beard, Nicholas S. Eyre, Thomas F. Baumert, D. Lorne Tyrrell, John L.M. Law, Michael Houghton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The global health burden for hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains high, despite available effective treatments. To eliminate HCV, a prophylactic vaccine is needed. One major challenge in the development of a vaccine is the genetic diversity of the virus, with 7 major genotypes and many subtypes. A global vaccine must be effective against all HCV genotypes. Our previous data showed that the 1a E1/E2 glycoprotein vaccine component elicits broad cross-neutralizing antibodies in humans and animals. However, some variation is seen in the effectiveness of these antibodies to neutralize different HCV genotypes and isolates. Of interest was the differences in neutralizing activity against two closely related isolates of HCV genotype 2a, the J6 and JFH-1 strains. Using site-directed mutagenesis to generate chimeric viruses between the J6 and JFH-1 strains, we found that variant amino acids within the core E2 glycoprotein domain of these two HCV genotype 2a viruses do not influence isolate-specific neutralization. Further analysis revealed that the N-terminal hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of the E2 protein determines the sensitivity of isolate-specific neutralization, and the HVR1 of the resistant J6 strain binds scavenger receptor class-B type-1 (SR-B1), while the sensitive JFH-1 strain does not. Our data provide new information on mechanisms of isolate-specific neutralization to facilitate the optimization of a much-needed HCV vaccine. IMPORTANCE A vaccine is still urgently needed to overcome the hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemic. It is estimated that 1.75 million new HCV infections occur each year, many of which will go undiagnosed and untreated. Untreated HCV can lead to continued spread of the disease, progressive liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and eventually, endstage liver disease and/or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Previously, our 1a E1/E2 glycoprotein vaccine was shown to elicit broadly cross-neutralizing antibodies; however, there remains variation in the effectiveness of these antibodies against different HCV genotypes. In this study, we investigated determinants of differential neutralization sensitivity between two highly related genotype 2a isolates, J6 and JFH-1. Our data indicate that the HVR1 region determines neutralization sensitivity to vaccine antisera through modulation of sensitivity to antibodies and interactions with SR-B1. Our results provide additional insight into optimizing a broadly neutralizing HCV vaccine.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00810-19
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume93
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

Keywords

  • Genotype 2a
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Hypervariable region 1
  • Isolate-specific
  • Neutralizing antibodies
  • Scavenger receptor B1
  • Vaccine

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