Isolation of Human Monoclonal Antibodies to the Envelope E2 Protein of Hepatitis C Virus and Their Characterization

Shimizu, Yohko K.; Hijikata, Minako; Oshima, Masamichi; Shimizu, Kazufumi; Alter, Harvey J.; Purcell, Robert H.; Yoshikura, Hiroshi; Hotta, Hak
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
We isolated and characterized two human monoclonal antibodies to the envelope E2 protein of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Lymphoblastoid cell lines stably producing antibodies were obtained by immortalizing peripheral blood mononuclear cells of a patient with chronic hepatitis C using Epstein-Barr virus. Screening for antibody-positive clones was carried out by immunofluorescence with Huh7 cells expressing the E2 protein of HCV strain H (genotype 1a) isolated from the same patient. Isotype of resulting antibodies, #37 and #55, was IgG1/kappa and IgG1/lambda, respectively. Epitope mapping revealed that #37 and #55 recognize conformational epitopes spanning amino acids 429 to 652 and 508 to 607, respectively. By immunofluorescence using virus-infected Huh7.5 cells as targets both antibodies were reactive with all of the nine different HCV genotypes/subtypes tested. The antibodies showed a different pattern of immuno-staining; while #37 gave granular reactions mostly located in the periphery of the nucleus, #55 gave diffuse staining throughout the cytoplasm. Both antibodies were shown by immuno-gold electron microscopy to bind to intact viral particles. In a neutralization assay (focus-forming unit reduction using chimeric infectious HCV containing structural proteins derived from genotypes 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 4a, 5a, 6a, and 7a), #55 inhibited the infection of all HCV genotypes tested but genotype 7a to a lesser extent. #37 did not neutralize any of these viruses. As a broadly cross-neutralizing human antibody, #55 may be useful for passive immunotherapy of HCV infection.


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