Recognition of a highly conserved glycoprotein B epitope by a bivalent antibody neutralizing HCMV at a post-attachment step
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is one of the main causative agents of congenital viral infection in neonates. HCMV infection also causes serious morbidity and mortality among organ transplant patients. Glycoprotein B (gB) is a major target for HCMV neutralizing antibodies, yet the underlying neutralization mechanisms remain largely unknown. Here we report that 3-25, a gB-specific monoclonal antibody previously isolated from a healthy HCMV-positive donor, efficiently neutralized 14 HCMV strains in
... 14 HCMV strains in both ARPE-19 cells and MRC-5 cells. The core epitope of 3-25 was mapped to a highly conserved linear epitope on antigenic domain 2 (AD-2) of gB. A 1.8 Å crystal structure of 3-25 Fab in complex with the peptide epitope revealed the molecular determinants of 3-25 binding to gB at atomic resolution. Negative-staining electron microscopy (EM) 3D reconstruction of 3-25 Fab in complex with de-glycosylated postfusion gB showed that 3-25 Fab fully occupied the gB trimer at the N-terminus with flexible binding angles. Functionally, 3-25 efficiently inhibited HCMV infection at a post-attachment step by interfering with viral membrane fusion, and restricted post-infection viral spreading in ARPE-19 cells. Interestingly, bivalency was required for HCMV neutralization by AD-2 specific antibody 3-25 but not the AD-4 specific antibody LJP538. In contrast, bivalency was not required for HCMV binding by both antibodies. Taken together, our results reveal the structural basis of gB recognition by 3-25 and demonstrate that inhibition of viral membrane fusion and a requirement of bivalency may be common for gB AD-2 specific neutralizing antibody.