The Journal of general virology

Epitope mapping of the 2009 pandemic and the A/Brisbane/59/2007 seasonal (H1N1) influenza virus haemagglutinins using mAbs and escape mutants.

PMID 25078301


mAbs constitute an important biological tool for influenza virus haemagglutinin (HA) epitope mapping through the generation of escape mutants, which could provide insights into immune evasion mechanisms and may benefit the future development of vaccines. Several influenza A (H1N1) pandemic 2009 (pdm09) HA escape mutants have been recently described. However, the HA antigenic sites of the previous seasonal A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1) (Bris07) virus remain poorly documented. Here, we produced mAbs against pdm09 and Bris07 HA proteins expressed in human HEK293 cells. Escape mutants were generated using mAbs that exhibited HA inhibition and neutralizing activities. The resulting epitope mapping of the pdm09 HA protein revealed 11 escape mutations including three that were previously described (G172E, N173D and K256E) and eight novel ones (T89R, F128L, G157E, K180E, A212E, R269K, N311T and G478E). Among the six HA mutations that were part of predicted antigenic sites (Ca1, Ca2, Cb, Sa or Sb), three (G172E, N173D and K180E) were within the Sa site. Eight escape mutations (H54N, N55D, N55K, L60H, N203D, A231T, V314I and K464E) were obtained for Bris07 HA, and all but one (N203D, Sb site) were outside the predicted antigenic sites. Our results suggest that the Sa antigenic site is immunodominant in pdm09 HA, whereas the N203D mutation (Sb site), present in three different Bris07 escape mutants, appears as the immunodominant epitope in that strain. The fact that some mutations were not part of predicted antigenic sites reinforces the necessity of further characterizing the HA of additional H1N1 strains.