Hemagglutinin stalk-based universal vaccine constructs protect against group 2 influenza A viruses.
Current influenza virus vaccines contain H1N1 (phylogenetic group 1 hemagglutinin), H3N2 (phylogenetic group 2 hemagglutinin), and influenza B virus components. These vaccines induce good protection against closely matched strains by predominantly eliciting antibodies against the membrane distal globular head domain of their respective viral hemagglutinins. This domain, however, undergoes rapid antigenic drift, allowing the virus to escape neutralizing antibody responses. The membrane proximal stalk domain of the hemagglutinin is much more conserved compared to the head domain. In recent years, a growing collection of antibodies that neutralize a broad range of influenza virus strains and subtypes by binding to this domain has been isolated. Here, we demonstrate that a vaccination strategy based on the stalk domain of the H3 hemagglutinin (group 2) induces in mice broadly neutralizing anti-stalk antibodies that are highly cross-reactive to heterologous H3, H10, H14, H15, and H7 (derived from the novel Chinese H7N9 virus) hemagglutinins. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these antibodies confer broad protection against influenza viruses expressing various group 2 hemagglutinins, including an H7 subtype. Through passive transfer experiments, we show that the protection is mediated mainly by neutralizing antibodies against the stalk domain. Our data suggest that, in mice, a vaccine strategy based on the hemagglutinin stalk domain can protect against viruses expressing divergent group 2 hemagglutinins.
Margine, I; Krammer, F; Hai, R; Heaton, NS; Tan, GS; Andrews, SA; Runstadler, JA; Wilson, PC; Albrecht, RA; García-Sastre, A; Palese, P
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