Molecular Modeling Predicts Novel Antibody Escape Mutations in the Respiratory Syncytial Virus Fusion Glycoprotein.

TitleMolecular Modeling Predicts Novel Antibody Escape Mutations in the Respiratory Syncytial Virus Fusion Glycoprotein.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBeach SS, Hull MKA, F Ytreberg M, Patel JSuresh, Miura TA
JournalJ Virol
Date Published2022 Jul 13
KeywordsAntibodies, Viral, Humans, Models, Molecular, Mutation, Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human, Viral Fusion Proteins

Monoclonal antibodies are increasingly used for the prevention and/or treatment of viral infections. One caveat of their use is the ability of viruses to evolve resistance to antibody binding and neutralization. Computational strategies to identify viral mutations that may disrupt antibody binding would leverage the wealth of viral genomic sequence data to monitor for potential antibody-resistant mutations. The respiratory syncytial virus is an important pathogen for which monoclonal antibodies against the fusion (F) protein are used to prevent severe disease in high-risk infants. In this study, we used an approach that combines molecular dynamics simulations with FoldX to estimate changes in free energy in F protein folding and binding to the motavizumab antibody upon each possible amino acid change. We systematically selected 8 predicted escape mutations and tested them in an infectious clone. Consistent with our F protein stability predictions, replication-effective viruses were observed for each selected mutation. Six of the eight variants showed increased resistance to neutralization by motavizumab. Flow cytometry was used to validate the estimated (model-predicted) effects on antibody binding to F. Using surface plasmon resonance, we determined that changes in the on-rate of motavizumab binding were associated with the reduced affinity for two novel escape mutations. Our study empirically validated the accuracy of our molecular modeling approach and emphasized the role of biophysical protein modeling in predicting viral resistance to antibody-based therapeutics that can be used to monitor the emergence of resistant viruses and to design improved therapeutic antibodies. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes severe disease in young infants, particularly those with heart or lung diseases or born prematurely. Because no vaccine is currently available, monoclonal antibodies are used to prevent severe RSV disease in high-risk infants. While it is known that RSV evolves to avoid recognition by antibodies, screening tools that can predict which changes to the virus may lead to antibody resistance are greatly needed.

Alternate JournalJ Virol
PubMed ID35678603
PubMed Central IDPMC9278155
Grant ListP20 GM104420 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States