Monoclonal Antibodies against Hepatitis C Genotype 3a Virus Like Particle Inhibit Virus Entry in Cell Culture System
et al. (2013) Monoclonal Antibodies against Hepatitis C Genotype 3a Virus Like Particle Inhibit
Virus Entry in Cell Culture System. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53619. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053619
Monoclonal Antibodies against Hepatitis C Genotype 3a Virus Like Particle Inhibit Virus Entry in Cell Culture System
Soma Das 0
Rohini K. Shetty 0
Anuj Kumar 0
Radhika Nagamangalam Shridharan 0
Ranjitha Tatineni 0
Giriprakash Chi 0
Anirban Mukherjee 0
Saumitra Das 0
Shaila Melkote Subbarao 0
Anjali Anoop Karande 0
Niyaz Ahmed, University of Hyderabad, India
0 1 Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science , Bangalore , India , 2 Department of Microbiology and Cell biology, Indian Institute of Science , Bangalore , India
The envelope protein (E1-E2) of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major component of the viral structure. The glycosylated envelope protein is considered to be important for initiation of infection by binding to cellular receptor(s) and also known as one of the major antigenic targets to host immune response. The present study was aimed at identifying mouse monoclonal antibodies which inhibit binding of virus like particles of HCV to target cells. The first step in this direction was to generate recombinant HCV-like particles (HCV-LPs) specific for genotypes 3a of HCV (prevalent in India) using the genes encoding core, E1 and E2 envelop proteins in a baculovirus expression system. The purified HCV-LPs were characterized by ELISA and electron microscopy and were used to generate monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in mice. Two monoclonal antibodies (E8G9 and H1H10) specific for the E2 region of envelope protein of HCV genotype 3a, were found to reduce the virus binding to Huh7 cells. However, the mAbs generated against HCV genotype 1b (D2H3, G2C7, E1B11) were not so effective. More importantly, mAb E8G9 showed significant inhibition of the virus entry in HCV JFH1 cell culture system. Finally, the epitopic regions on E2 protein which bind to the mAbs have also been identified. Results suggest a new therapeutic strategy and provide the proof of concept that mAb against HCV-LP could be effective in preventing virus entry into liver cells to block HCV replication.
Funding: This work was supported by Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India. Dr. Soma Das was the recipient of S K Kothari postdoctoral Fellowship from
UGC, Govt. of India. Anuj Kumar Dayal was a recipient of Junior Research Fellowship from CSIR, Govt. of India. The funders had no role in study design, data
collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the major etiological agent of non-A,
non-B hepatitis that infects almost 200 million people worldwide
. HCV is a major cause of post transfusion and
communityacquired hepatitis. Approximately 7080% of HCV patients
develop chronic hepatitis of which 2030% leads to liver disease,
cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma . Treatment options for
chronic HCV infection are limited, and a vaccine to prevent HCV
infection is not available.
The virion contains a positive-sense single stranded RNA
genome of approximately 9.6 kb that consists of a highly
conserved 59 non coding region followed by a long open reading
frame of 9,030 to 9,099 nucleotides (nts). It is translated into a
single polyprotein of 3,010 to 3030 amino acids [3,4]. A
combination of host and viral proteases are involved in the
polyprotein processing to generate ten different proteins. The
structural proteins of HCV are comprised of the core protein
(,21 kDa) and two envelope glycoproteins E1 (,31 kDa) and E2
(,70 kDa) . E1 and E2 are transmembrane proteins
consisting of a large N-terminal ectodomain and a C-terminal
hydrophobic anchor. E1 and E2 undergo post translational
modifications by extensive N-linked glycosylation and are
responsible for cell binding and entry .
Due to the error-prone nature of HCV RNA-dependent RNA
polymerase and its high replicative rate in vivo, it shows a high
degree of genetic variability . Based on the sequence
heterogeneity of the genome, HCV is classified into six major
genotypes and ,100 subtypes. These six genotypes of HCV differ
in their pathogenicity, efficiency of translation/replication and
responsiveness to antiviral therapy. Genotypes 1 and 2 are the
major types observed in Japan, Europe, North America and
South-East Asia respectively. Type 4 has been found in Central
Africa, Middle East and Egypt, type 5 is found in South Africa and
type 6 in South-East Asia . Interestingly, the entire gene
sequence of HCV genome shows .30% divergence at the
nucleotide level across all the genotypes . Unlike in the other
parts of the world, genotype 3 has been found to be predominant
in India and infects 1% of the total population, followed by
genotype 1 .
Although a detailed analysis of the viral genomic organization
has led to the identification of various genetic elements and the
establishment of subgenomic replicons, the study of viral
attachment and entry is still not studied completely due to the
Figure 1. Characterization of HCV-LPs. (A) HCV-LPs corresponding to genotypes 3a and 1b were harvested on 4th day post infection and purified
as described in Materials and Methods. HCV-LPs were tested with different concentrations of anti-HCV-E1E2 antibody using ELISA. (B) Transmission
electron microscopy of HCV-LPs of 1b and 3a as indicated. Scale bar: 200 nm for genotype 1b and 100 nm of genotype 3a; magnification: 10,000X.
(Inset shows a single virus particle with 20,0006 magnification).
inability of the virus to propagate efficiently in cell culture and the
lack of suitable animal model for the virus.
Several groups have described the generation of HCV-like
particles (HCV-LPs) in insect cells using a recombinant
baculovirus containing the cDNA of the HCV structural proteins core,
E1 and E2 . In contrast to individually expressed envelope
glycoproteins, the HCV structural proteins have been shown to
assemble into enveloped HCV-LPs with morphological,
biophysical, and antigenic properties similar to those of putative virions
isolated from HCV-infected humans [1819,2425]. They may,
therefore, interact with anti-HCV antibodies directed against
HCV envelope proteins that may represent neutralizing epitopes.
Recent studies have demonstrated that HCV-LPs interact with
defined human cell lines and hepatocytes similar to viral particles
Epitopic region on E2
Between 256 and 512
Between 64 and 128
Between 128 and 256
isolated from human serum. The interaction of HCV-LPs with
permissive cell lines therefore represents a novel model system for
the study of viral binding and entry and consecutively inhibition of
entry into permissive cells [21,23,2527].
In the present study, we have generated HCV-LPs comprising
of core-E1-E2 regions of genotypes 1b and 3a using the
baculovirus expression system and these HCV-LPs have been
used to produce mouse monoclonal antibodies. These monoclonal
antibodies were characterized for their ability to inhibit VLP
attachment to human hepatoma cells and also virus entry into
Huh 7.5 cells in infectious cell culture system.
Materials and Methods
The animal experiments have been approved by the
Institutional Animal Ethics Committee, Indian Institute of Science,
Bangalore, India. Mice were housed in 12 hr night-day cycle at
controlled temperature of 24 degree centigrade and humidity and
food ad libitum.
Huh 7 and Huh7.5 cells  were maintained in Dulbeccos
modified Eagle medium (DMEM, Sigma) supplemented with 10%
fetal bovine serum at 37uC under 5% CO2. Sf21 cells were
maintained in TC100 insect cell Medium (Sigma) with 10% fetal
bovine serum at 26uC.
Generation of HCV-LPs
The sequence encoding core-E1-E2 for genotype 3a from
cDNA corresponding to RNA isolated from patient blood has
been cloned in pGEMT Easy vector (Acc. No. core: GU172376
and E1E2: GU172375). The core-E1-E2 region was subsequently
subcloned in pFastBac HTb at BamHI-EcoRI site (2.256 kb).
Similarly, the core-E1-E2 of genotype 1b was amplified from
replicon Con 1FL (Acc. No. AJ238799)  and cloned into
pFastBac HTc in frame. After the generation of bacmid,
integration of DNA specific for core-E1-E2 into the baculoviral
genome was confirmed by PCR amplification using M13F and
E2R primers for genotype 3a or core F and M13R primers for
genotype 1b. The recombinant baculoviruses were rescued from
the bacmid and the viruses were amplified in Sf 21 cells. Time
course expression of the core-E1-E2 protein in insect cells by
recombinant baculovirus was tested 24, 48, 56 and 72 h of post
infection at 10 moi. Wild type baculovirus infection cell extracts
were used as controls.
Purification of HCV-LPs
Sf21 cells were infected with recombinant baculovirus at a moi
of 510, and cells were harvested 72 h post infection. Cell pellets
were washed with phosphate buffered saline (PBS: 50 mM
phosphate buffer pH 7.2 containing 150 mM NaCl) thrice and
were resuspended using a tissue homogenizer in a lysis buffer
(50 mM Tris, 50 mM NaCl, 0.5 mM EDTA, 1 mM PMSF, 0.1%
NP40 and 0.25% protease inhibitors). The lysate was centrifuged
at 15006g for 15 min at 4uC and the supernatant was pelleted
over a 30% sucrose cushion. The pellet was resuspended in
20 mM Tris and 150 mM NaCl which was then applied on a 20%
to 60% sucrose gradient in SW41 rotor (Beckman). After 22 h of
ultracentrifugation at 30,000 rpm at 4uC, fractions (1 ml) were
collected and tested for E1 and E2 by enzyme-linked
immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and western blotting. Anti E1E2
polyclonal antibody raised in rabbit was used for the above
assays. Fractions containing HCV-LPs were diluted with 10 mM
PBS and pelleted at 30,000 rpm for 2 h and stored at 270uC.
Protein concentration was determined by Bradford protein assay
Electron Microscopy of HCV-LPs
Purified HCV-LP samples (5 ml of 2 mg/ml concentration) were
absorbed on the surface of carbon coated 300 mesh copper grids
for 1 min, and negatively stained with 2% uranyl acetate and
observed under a transmission electron microscope (Tecnai F30
FEI-Eindhoven, Netherlands) at magnification of 10,000X and
Analysis of Binding of HCV-LPs to Huh7 Cell Lines
To analyse the binding of HCV-LPs to Huh7 cells, 56105 cells
were incubated with HCV-LPs of different concentrations in PBS
(final volume-100 ml) for different time points at 37uC. Unbound
HCV-LPs were removed by washing with 0.5% BSA in PBS. Cells
were subsequently incubated for 1 h at room temperature with
anti-E1E2 polyclonal antibody followed by incubation with
FITCconjugated anti-rabbit IgG antibody. Cell-bound fluorescence was
analyzed using FACS Calibur flow cytometer (Becton Dickinson)
using WinMDI software to calculate the mean fluorescence
intensity (MFI) of the cell population, which directly relates to
the surface density of FITC-labelled HCV-LPs bound to
hepatocytes . The MFI values of cells with or without
HCVLPs and with isotype control antibody were compared. OVCAR 3
cells (ovarian carcinoma) were used as negative control cells for
binding of VLP (data not shown).
Immunization of Mice and Establishment of Hybridoma
Purified VLP (30 mg for each mouse) emulsified with Freunds
adjuvant was administered subcutaneously to 68 weeks old
female BALB/c mice three boosters (15 mg for each mouse) at
interval of three weeks. After a month, the mice were finally
injected intraperitoneally with 100 mg of the antigen in saline and
four days later the animals were sacrificed. The spleens were
excised, and the splenocytes were fused with Sp2/0 mouse
myeloma cells using polyethylene glycol 4000 (Merck). Hybridoma
were selected on HAT (Hypoxanthine-aminopterin-thymidine
medium) supplemented by IMDM subsequently. Hybridoma
obtained were tested for specific antibody production using ELISA
and subcloned to obtain single cells. Monoclonal antibodies
(mAbs) were purified from culture supernatant by affinity
chromatography on a protein A-Sepharose column by following
standard procedures .
Immunoassays. (i) ELISA
Microtiter ELISA plates (Nunc) were coated overnight with
antigen (HCV-LP) (5 mg/ml in PBS) followed by blocking of
unoccupied sites with 0.5% gelatin in PBS. The plates were
incubated with different culture supernatant samples. After three
washes with PBS containing 0.05% Tween 20, the plates were
incubated with rabbit anti-mouse Ig-HRP conjugate (DAKO,
Glostrup, Denmark) for 1 h. The bound-peroxidase activity was
detected using tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) and 0.03% H2O2.
The reaction was stopped with 1 M H2SO4, and absorption at
450 nm was measured in an ELISA plate reader (Spectramax;
(ii) Western Blotting
HCV-LPs were electrophoresed on 10% polyacrylamide gel
under reducing conditions and transferred onto nitrocellulose
membranes. After blocking the non-specific sites with 0.5% BSA
Figure 2. Inhibition of HCV-LP and Huh7 cell binding by mAbs. HCV-LPs of both genotypes 1b and 3a were incubated with increasing
concentrations of mAbs as indicated. The Y-axis depicts the percentage activity representing both the percent binding (dark grey) and percent
inhibition HCV-LP attachment (light grey).
in PBS, the membranes were incubated with mouse antibodies
specific to the HCV-LP, followed by rabbit anti-mouse Ig-HRP
conjugate. The blot was developed with diaminobenzidine (1 mg/
ml in citrate buffer, pH 5.0, containing 0.05% H2O2) or
Inhibition of Binding of HCV-LP to Huh7 Cells by
Monoclonal Antibodies against Genotypes 1b and 3a
HCV-LPs were pre-incubated with different concentrations of
purified individual monoclonal antibodies and the complexes were
allowed to react with Huh 7 cells. The binding of the labeled VLPs
was monitored by flow cytometry analysis as described above.
Percentage inhibition of binding
Percentage inhibition of binding
Identification of the Epitopic Regions Recognized by the
A set of five overlapping E2 gene fragments were generated by
PCR amplification followed by restriction enzymes (Bam HI and
Hind III) digestion of the different regions of E2 gene and
subcloned. The corresponding protein fragments were expressed
in E. coli., purified and used for western blot analysis. The
fragments R1 (16.94 kDa), R2 (10.78 kDa) R4 (11.44 kDa) and
R5 (11.11 kDa) were cloned in pRSET B vector, whereas R3
(12.65 kDa) was cloned in pRSET A vector. In the fragment R3, a
part of the vector sequences (,2.5 kDa) was included in the
expressed protein, however that part did not contribute to the
reactivity to the mAb E8G9 (data not shown).
In vitro Transcription of Viral RNA
The pJFH1 construct (generous gift from Dr. Takaji Wakita,
National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan) was
linearized with XbaI. HCV RNA was synthesized from linearized
pJFH1 template using Ribomax Large scale RNA production
system-T7 according to manufacturers instructions (Promega).
Transfection and Generation of JFH1 Virus
Huh7.5 cells were transfected with in vitro synthesized JFH1
RNA transcript using Lipofectamine 2000 (Invitrogen) in
OptiMEM (Invitrogen). Infectious JFH1 virus particles were generated
as described previously . Uninfected Huh7.5 cells were used as
a mock control.
Virus Neutralization Assay
Anti-E2 antibodies (E8G9 and H1H10) generated against
genotype 3a VLP were tested for their ability to neutralize virus
infectivity. Huh7.5 cells were seeded into 24 well plate 16 h prior
to the day of infection. JFH1virus was incubated with serial
dilutions of E2 mAbs at 37uC for 1 hr. The antibody-virus mixture
was then transferred on the cells. Infectivity was analyzed three
days (for HCV negative sense strand detection) or three hours (for
input HCV positive sense strand detection) post infection by
realtime RT- PCR.
Quantification of Viral RNA
Viral RNA was quantified by real-time RT-PCR analysis. Cells
were harvested three hours (for HCV positive sense strand
detection) or three days (for HCV negative sense strand detection)
post infection and total RNA was isolated which was reverse
transcribed with HCV 39 primer (for positive sense) or HCV 59
primer (for HCV negative sense) and GAPDH 39primer using
Revert-Aid (Thermo Scientific). Resulting cDNA was amplified for
HCV IRES and GAPDH (internal control) using the ABI real
time RT-PCR System (Applied Biosystems).
Characterization of HCV-LPs of Genotypes 1b and 3a
HCV-LPs corresponding to genotypes 1b and 3a (comprising of
core-E1E2) have been generated using the baculovirus expression
system in insect cells. The purified HCV-LPs of both genotypes
were tested for immunoreactivity with polyclonal antibody to
recombinant E1E2 (Fig. 1A). The particles were further
examined under electron microscope (Fig. 1B). Results showed
particles of 4060 nm size of genotype 1b which was similar to the
sizes described earlier  and 3555 nm for genotype 3a. The
size difference may be due to the difference in the amount of E1
and E2 proteins incorporated into each virus like particle.
The purified HCV-LPs binding to Huh7 cells were analyzed by
flow cytometry at 37uC. It was observed that with constant
concentration of VLP (7 mg), at different time points, the intensity
of fluorescence increased gradually upto 4 h which declined
afterwards (Figure S1).
Further, the binding efficiency of the HCV-LPs was compared
at 4th hr time point. HCV-LP corresponding to genotype 3a
showed marginally higher interaction (,80%) with the Huh7 cells
than the HCV-LP of genotype 1b (,70%) (Figure S2).
Characterization of Monoclonal Antibodies Against 1b
and 3a Genotype of HCV-LP
BALB/c mice were immunized with the HCV-LPs (both
genotype 1 and genotype 3) and hybridoma were established by
fusion of splenocytes with mouse myeloma cells. Approximately
200 hybridomas from two independent experiments were
screened. A total of five mAbs were obtained out of which two
(E8G9 and H1H10) were against genotype 3a and three (E1B11,
D2H3 and G2C7) were against genotype 1b. The cross reactivity
of the monoclonal antibodies was determined by ELISA
employing HCV-LP of other genotype as coating antigen (500 ng). As
seen in Table 1, mAbs E8G9 against 3a HCV-LP and G2C7
against 1b HCV-LP showed maximum reactivity and were also
cross reactive with both HCV-LPs to the same extent. mAbs E8G9
and D2H3 reacted strongly with the envelope protein in Western
blot analysis suggesting that they recognize linear epitopes. The
other three mAbs (E1B11, G2C7 and H1H10) reacted well in
ELISA and dot blot but not in Western blot indicating that they
are generated against conformational epitopes. The characteristics
of the monoclonal antibodies are summarized in Table 1.
Inhibition of HCV-LP Binding to Huh 7 Cells by mAbs
Since all the mAbs exhibited cross-genotype specificity in
reactivity, it is likely that these mAbs would inhibit binding of
HCV-LPs to Huh7 cells. To explore this possibility, increasing
concentrations of mAbs were incubated with constant amount
HCV-LPs and the binding of HCV-LPs to Huh 7 cells was
monitored. The inhibition of HCV-LPs binding by mAbs was
determined by flow cytometric analysis. Results showed dose
dependent inhibition of binding of the HCV-LP with increasing
concentrations of the mAb E8G9 (,66%). Considerable inhibition
was also observed with mAb H1H10 (,30%). However all other
mAbs did not show appreciable inhibition of the binding (Fig. 2).
The results are tabulated in Table 2 and Table 3. A non-specific
antibody F1G4 has been used as a negative control  (Figure
Inhibition of Virus Entry by the mAbs in HCV Cell Culture
Flow cytometric analysis suggested that mAbs E8G9 and
H1H10 were able to inhibit the HCV LPs binding to Huh7 cells.
To verify whether this property is also shown when virions of
hepatitis C are used, neutralization assays were performed using
JFH1 virus. The virus was pre-incubated with different
concentrations of the antibodies (EG89 & H1H10) specific for HCV-LP
(genotype 3a) for 1hr at 37uC before infection. An unrelated
monoclonal antibody (F1G4) was used as negative control. Three
days post infection, the effect of antibodies on HCV negative
strand synthesis was measured by real time RT-PCR. Huh7.5 cells
infected with JFH1 virus in the presence of 100 mg/ml E8G9 mAb
showed nearly 65% reduction in intracellular HCV RNA level,
while H1H10 showed a modest decrease of about 20% at the same
concentration and non specific antibody did not show any
inhibition (Fig. 3A).
To further confirm that this inhibition of HCV negative strand
synthesis by E8G9 antibody is due to inhibition of virus entry, we
performed in vitro neutralization assay and quantified the level of
input positive strand three hours post infection using real time
RTPCR (Fig. 3B). A significant reduction in virus entry at 50 and
100 mg/ml was observed with E8G9 mAb suggesting it as a good
candidate for inhibiting HCV entry in cell culture system.
Epitope Mapping of mAbs
The inhibition of binding of HCV-LPs to Huh 7 cells by E8G9
and not by D2H3 may be due to non-overlapping epitopic regions
recognized by the two mAbs, E8G9 and D2H3. To delineate the
specific epitopic regions, western blot analysis was carried out
using different overlapping fragments of HCV E2 protein (Fig. 4A),
expressed in E. coli. The entire E2 coding region of HCV was
divided into five overlapping gene fragments (Fig. 4A), which were
amplified, cloned and expressed in E. coli. All the five purified
protein fragments were analyzed by western blot analysis with
E8G9 and D2H3 mAbs. It was seen that E8G9 reacted with
region 3 (555 to 646 aa) and region 4 (596 to 699 aa) whereas
mAb D2H3 reacted with region 4 only (Fig. 4B). Results indicated
that region 3 which is present between amino acids 555 to 646
may be involved in the inhibition of HCV-LP binding to Huh 7
cells. The epitope of mAb H1H10, could not be delineated
because it recognizes a conformational epitope and thus fails to
react in western blot analysis.
In this work, we have reported for the first time the generation
of recombinant HCV-LP for genotype 3a, which is prevalent in
India. We have also generated the HCV-LP corresponding to
genotype 1b prevalent worldwide for comparison. The HCV-LP
corresponding to 1b appears to be polygonal in shape and 40 to
60 nm in size as reported earlier, whereas HCV-LP of 3a was
found to be approximately 3555 nm in size. Thus, structurally
and morphologically the VLPs were distinct. This could be due to
differences in the sequences and conformation of the envelop
protein of the two different genotypes. Also it is possible that the
amount of E2 protein incorporated in virus like particle could be
relatively more in case of genotype 1b.
The HCV-LP genotype 3a showed almost 80% binding to Huh
7 cells, whereas genotype 1b HCV-LP showed approximately 70%
binding suggesting differential affinity of the HCV-LPs towards
The binding of HCV-LP to the Huh7 cells was maximum at 4h
of incubation and after which there was decrease in fluorescence.
It is possible that after 4h of incubation, the HCV-LPs enter into
the cells by receptor mediated endocytosis. Interestingly, both
genotype 3a and genotype 1b HCV-LPs showed similar results.
There is a cascade of events which enable the attachment and
entry of HCV into permissive cells. The mAbs E8G9 and D2H3
are probably against the HCV-LP envelope protein region
involved in binding to any one of the several set of cellular
receptor proteins. Since the epitope for the E8G9 was putatively
mapped to 596646 which is probably structurally close to the sites
of the E2 protein critical for CD81 receptor binding (,420, 527,
529, 530, 535) [33,34] it might have been more effective in
prevention of the virus binding. The same E8G9 mAb also showed
better inhibition (,66%) of virus entry in the HCV cell culture
system and the mAb H1H10 showed only marginal inhibition
(,30%). Perhaps the epitope for H1H10 is mapped to a distant
location from the receptor binding domains of E2 protein.
Further, mAbs D2H3, G2C7 and E1B11 didnt show significant
inhibition of binding of HCV-LP to Huh 7 cells. The epitope for
D2H3 has been mapped in the region 4 (596699 aa of E2
protein), which might be far from receptor binding sites. The
epitopes for H1H10, G2C7 and E1B11 could not be mapped by
western blot analysis, possibly due to the fact that the mAbs are
Since IgG from culture supernatant of hybridoma cells were
used for the ELISA assay, it is possible that the E8G9 and H1H10
specific IgG concentration is low which is reflected in the low
Though mAb E8G9 inhibited the binding of the VLPs to Huh7
cells, the inhibition seen is not more than ,66%. This can be
attributed to the fact that HCV binding to cells involves more than
one receptor. Inhibition of binding to at least the CD81 and SRB1
would be required for complete inhibition. Moreover the
HCVLPs were generated in baculovirus system; therefore the
glycosylation of the insect cell expressed envelope proteins, which were
earlier shown to be important for the virus entry , may be
different when compared to HCV replicating in mammalian cells.
Earlier Keck et al have demonstrated the involvement of the
Nterminus of HCV envelope protein E1 in virus binding and entry
using a monoclonal antibody derived from this region. The mAb
H111 was able to bind to HCV E1 of genotypes 1a, 1b, 2b, and 3a
indicating the conservation of this epitope across the genotypes.
However, still the mAb H111 could achieve only upto 70%
inhibition of HCV-LP binding . Additionally, Triyatni et al.
 has demonstrated that several mAbs derived from multiple
epitops within HVR-1could strongly bind to HCV-LP, suggesting
that these epitopes are also exposed on the viral surface [21,36]. In
fact, Zibert et al has successfully demonstrated using patient serum
that blocking of viral attachment can be revered by preincubating
serum with HVR1 specific proteins. However, considering the fact
that the stoichiometry of the HCV-Ab complex is not clear, they
have not excluded involvement of other epitopes in viral
attachment . Thus it appears that multiple epitopes are
required for complete neutralization, to achieve more inhibition of
virus entry into target cells.
Although, the JFHI virus is derived from genotype 2a, the mAb
E8G9 was able to successfully inhibit the negative strand synthesis
up to 70%, suggesting that the interactions between the HCV-E2
and the Huh7.5 cells could be partially conserved. Interestingly,
100 mg/ml of mAb E8G9 showed almost 80% inhibition of input
positive strand at 3hour post infection suggesting effective
inhibition of the virus entry.
In conclusion, this study provides the proof of concept that
mAbs can be used as a strategic approach to prevent the viral
entry into target cells. However for efficient inhibition, a cocktail
of mAbs are needed to completely prevent HCV infection. It
would be instructive to find out if antibodies present in HCV
infected patients, who do not show active infection, are able to
compete with the identified neutralizing mAbs E8G9 and H1H10
in the present work.
Figure S1 Binding efficiency of HCV-LP to human
hepatoma (Huh 7) cells at 376C at different time points.
The HCV-LPs of genotype 1b and 3a were incubated at 37uC for
different time and the attachment was detected by FACS with an
anti-E1E2 polyclonal antibody and FITC-conjugated anti-mouse
Figure S2 Binding of HCV-LPs of genotype 1b and 3a to
human hepatoma (Huh 7) cells. Huh 7 cells were incubated
with HCV-LPs (corresponding to approximately 7 mg/ml of
HCV-LP) and the binding was analyzed by FACS with an
antiE1E2 polyclonal antibody and FITC-conjugated anti-mouse IgG.
The MFI (shown on the X-axis) of the cell population relates to the
surface density of HCV-LPs bound to the cells. The red shows the
binding efficiency of 1b and black depicts 3a genotype.
Figure S3 Inhibition of HCV-LP binding to Huh 7 cells
using a non-specific antibody F1G4. HCV-LP of genotype
1b and 3a were incubated with 10 mg of F1G4 mAbs taken as
negative control. The Y-axis depicts the percentage activity
representing both the percent binding (dark grey) and the percent
inhibition (light grey) of HCV-LP attachment.
We thank Dr. Takaji Wakita for the pJFH1 construct and Dr. C. M. Rice
for Huh7.5 cells. We acknowledge the help of Prof. Ashok Raichur and
Rajasegaran of MRC, IISc and the members of our laboratories. We
acknowledge the FACS facility of IISc, Bangalore for their assistance in
flow cytometry and data analysis.
Conceived and designed the experiments: Soma Das AAK SMS Saumitra
Das. Performed the experiments: Soma Das RKS AK RNS RT GC AM.
Analyzed the data: Soma Das AK AAK Saumitra Das SMS. Contributed
reagents/materials/analysis tools: Saumitra Das SMS. Wrote the paper:
Soma Das AK.
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