Bangaru S, Lang S, Schotsaert M, Vanderven HA, Zhu X, Kose N, Bombardi R, Finn JA, Kent SJ, Gilchuk P, Gilchuk I, Turner HL, García-Sastre A, Li S, Ward AB, Wilson IA, Crowe JE. A Site of Vulnerability on the Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin Head Domain Trimer Interface. Cell. 2019 May 16;177(177). 1136-1152.e18. PMID: 31100268 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC6629437 NIHMSID: NIHMS1528122.
Here, we describe the discovery of a naturally occurring human antibody (Ab), FluA-20, that recognizes a new site of vulnerability on the hemagglutinin (HA) head domain and reacts with most influenza A viruses. Structural characterization of FluA-20 with H1 and H3 head domains revealed a novel epitope in the HA trimer interface, suggesting previously unrecognized dynamic features of the trimeric HA protein. The critical HA residues recognized by FluA-20 remain conserved across most subtypes of influenza A viruses, which explains the Ab's extraordinary breadth. The Ab rapidly disrupted the integrity of HA protein trimers, inhibited cell-to-cell spread of virus in culture, and protected mice against challenge with viruses of H1N1, H3N2, H5N1, or H7N9 subtypes when used as prophylaxis or therapy. The FluA-20 Ab has uncovered an exceedingly conserved protective determinant in the influenza HA head domain trimer interface that is an unexpected new target for anti-influenza therapeutics and vaccines.