There is increasing evidence to suggest that antibodies directed toward influenza A virus (IAV) neuraminidase (NA) are an important correlate of protection against influenza in humans. Moreover, the potential of NA-specific antibodies to provide broader protection than conventional hemagglutinin (HA) antibodies has been recognized. Here, we describe the isolation of two monoclonal antibodies, N1-7D3 and N1-C4, directed toward the N1 NA. N1-7D3 binds to a conserved linear epitope in the membrane- distal, carboxy-terminal part of the NA and reacted with the NA of seasonal H1N1 isolates ranging from 1977 to 2007 and the 2009 H1N1pdm virus, as well as A/Vietnam/ 1194/04 (H5N1). However, N1-7D3 lacked NA inhibition (NI) activity and the ability to protect BALB/c mice against a lethal challenge with a range of H1N1 viruses. Conversely, N1-C4 bound to a conformational epitope that is conserved between two influenza virus subtypes, 2009 H1N1pdm and H5N1 IAV, and displayed potent in vitro antiviral activity mediating both NI and plaque size reduction. Moreover, N1-C4 could provide heterosubtypic protection in BALB/c mice against a lethal challenge with 2009 H1N1pdm or H5N1 virus. Glutamic acid residue 311 in the NA was found to be critical for the NA binding and antiviral activity of monoclonal antibody N1-C4. Our data provide further evidence for cross-protective epitopes within the N1 subtype and highlight the potential of NA as an important target for vaccine and therapeutic approaches.
- Influenza A virus
- Monoclonal antibody