Single-domain antibodies targeting neuraminidase protect against an H5N1 influenza virus challenge.

TitleSingle-domain antibodies targeting neuraminidase protect against an H5N1 influenza virus challenge.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsCardoso, F. Miguel, L. Itatí Ibañez, S. Van den Hoecke, S. De Baets, A. Smet, K. Roose, B. Schepens, F. J. Descamps, W. Fiers, S. Muyldermans, A. Depicker, and X. Saelens
JournalJ Virol
Date Published2014 Aug
KeywordsAnimals, Antiviral Agents, Disease Models, Animal, Female, Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype, Inhibitory Concentration 50, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Microbial Sensitivity Tests, Neuraminidase, Orthomyxoviridae Infections, Single-Domain Antibodies, Treatment Outcome

UNLABELLED: Influenza virus neuraminidase (NA) is an interesting target of small-molecule antiviral drugs. We isolated a set of H5N1 NA-specific single-domain antibodies (N1-VHHm) and evaluated their in vitro and in vivo antiviral potential. Two of them inhibited the NA activity and in vitro replication of clade 1 and 2 H5N1 viruses. We then generated bivalent derivatives of N1-VHHm by two methods. First, we made N1-VHHb by genetically joining two N1-VHHm moieties with a flexible linker. Second, bivalent N1-VHH-Fc proteins were obtained by genetic fusion of the N1-VHHm moiety with the crystallizable region of mouse IgG2a (Fc). The in vitro antiviral potency against H5N1 of both bivalent N1-VHHb formats was 30- to 240-fold higher than that of their monovalent counterparts, with 50% inhibitory concentrations in the low nanomolar range. Moreover, single-dose prophylactic treatment with bivalent N1-VHHb or N1-VHH-Fc protected BALB/c mice against a lethal challenge with H5N1 virus, including an oseltamivir-resistant H5N1 variant. Surprisingly, an N1-VHH-Fc fusion without in vitro NA-inhibitory or antiviral activity also protected mice against an H5N1 challenge. Virus escape selection experiments indicated that one amino acid residue close to the catalytic site is required for N1-VHHm binding. We conclude that single-domain antibodies directed against influenza virus NA protect against H5N1 virus infection, and when engineered with a conventional Fc domain, they can do so in the absence of detectable NA-inhibitory activity.IMPORTANCE: Highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses are a zoonotic threat. Outbreaks of avian influenza caused by these viruses occur in many parts of the world and are associated with tremendous economic loss, and these viruses can cause very severe disease in humans. In such cases, small-molecule inhibitors of the viral NA are among the few treatment options for patients. However, treatment with such drugs often results in the emergence of resistant viruses. Here we show that single-domain antibody fragments that are specific for NA can bind and inhibit H5N1 viruses in vitro and can protect laboratory mice against a challenge with an H5N1 virus, including an oseltamivir-resistant virus. In addition, plant-produced VHH fused to a conventional Fc domain can protect in vivo even in the absence of NA-inhibitory activity. Thus, NA of influenza virus can be effectively targeted by single-domain antibody fragments, which are amenable to further engineering.

Alternate JournalJ. Virol.
PubMed ID24829341
PubMed Central IDPMC4135927
Research group: