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Early antibodies specific for the neutralizing epitope on the receptor binding subunit of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus glycoprotein fail to neutralize the virus



Early antibodies specific for the neutralizing epitope on the receptor binding subunit of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus glycoprotein fail to neutralize the virus



Journal of Virology 81(21): 11650



Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is a murine arenavirus whose glycoprotein consists of a transmembrane subunit (GP-2) and a receptor-binding subunit (GP-1). LCMV-neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) are directed against a single site on GP-1 and occur 1 month after the infection of cytotoxic-T-lymphocyte (CTL) deficient mice. In wild-type mice, however, CTLs control early infection, and weak nAb titers emerge very late (after 70 to 150 days) if at all. Production of recombinant GP-1 in native conformation enabled us to study the emergence of GP-1-binding antibodies directed against the neutralizing epitope. By combining binding and neutralization assays, we correlated the development of binding antibodies versus nAbs in wild-type and CTL-deficient mice after infection with different LCMV doses. We found that wild-type mice developed GP-1-specific antibodies already by day 8 after exposure to high but not low doses, demonstrating that naive GP-1-specific B cells were infrequent. Furthermore, the induced antibodies bound to the neutralizing GP-1 epitope but failed to neutralize the virus and therefore were of low affinity. In CTL-deficient mice, where massive viremia quickly levels initial differences in viral load, low and high doses induced low-affinity non-neutralizing GP-1-binding antibodies with kinetics similar to high-dose-infected wild-type mice. Only in CTL-deficient mice, however, the GP-1-specific antibodies developed into nAbs within 1 month. We conclude that LCMV uses a dual strategy to evade nAb responses in wild-type mice. First, LCMV exploits a "hole" in the murine B-cell repertoire, which provides only a small and narrow initial pool of low-affinity GP-1-specific B cells. Second, affinity maturation of the available low-affinity non-neutralizing antibodies is impaired.

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Accession: 020902837

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 17699567

DOI: 10.1128/jvi.00955-07


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