Herpesviruses characteristically disseminate from immune hosts. Therefore in the context of natural infection, antibody neutralizes them poorly. Murid herpesvirus-4 (MuHV-4) provides a tractable model with which to understand gammaherpesvirus neutralization. MuHV-4 virions blocked for cell binding by immune sera remain infectious for IgG-Fc receptor myeloid cells, so broadly neutralizing antibodies must target the virion fusion complex – glycoprotein B (gB) or gH/gL. While gB-specific neutralizing antibodies are rare, its domains I+II (gB-N) contain at least one potent neutralization epitope. Here, we tested whether immunization with recombinant gB presenting this epitope could induce neutralizing antibodies in naive mice and protect them against MuHV-4 challenge. Immunizing with the full-length gB extracellular domain induced a strong gB-specific antibody response and reduced MuHV-4 lytic replication but did not induce detectable neutralization. gB-N alone, which more selectively displayed pre-fusion epitopes including neutralization epitopes, also failed to induce neutralizing responses, and while viral lytic replication was again reduced this depended completely on IgG Fc receptors. gB and gB-N also boosted neutralizing responses in only a minority of carrier mice. Therefore, it appears that neutralizing epitopes on gB are intrinsically difficult for the immune response to target.


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vol. , part 10, pp. 2542 - 2552

Boosting gB-specific antibody responses by post-exposure vaccination of BALB/c MuHV-4 carrier mice

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