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Large-scale screening of HCMV-seropositive blood donors indicates that HCMV effectively escapes from antibodies by cell-associated spread

Falk, Jessica, Winkelmann, Martina, Laib Sampaio, Kerstin, Paal, Caroline, Schrezenmeier, Hubert, Alt, Mira, Stanton, Richard ORCID:, Krawczyk, Adalbert, Lotfi, Ramin and Sinzger, Christian 2018. Large-scale screening of HCMV-seropositive blood donors indicates that HCMV effectively escapes from antibodies by cell-associated spread. Viruses 10 (9) , 500. 10.3390/v10090500

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Immunoglobulins are only moderately effective for the treatment of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections, possibly due to ineffectiveness against cell-associated virus spread. To overcome this limitation, we aimed to identify individuals with exceptional antibodies in their plasma that can efficiently block the cell-associated spread of HCMV. A Gaussia luciferase-secreting mutant of the cell-associated HCMV strain Merlin was generated, and luciferase activity evaluated as a readout for the extent of cell-associated focal spread. This reporter virus-based assay was then applied to screen plasma samples from 8400 HCMV-seropositive individuals for their inhibitory effect, including direct-acting antiviral drugs as positive controls. None of the plasmas reduced virus spread to the level of these controls. Even the top-scoring samples that partially reduced luciferase activity in the screening assay failed to inhibit focal growth when reevaluated with a more accurate, immunofluorescence-based assay. Selected sera with high neutralizing capacity against free viruses were analyzed separately, and none of them prevented the focal spread of three recent clinical HCMV isolates nor reduced the number of particles transmitted, as demonstrated with a fluorescent Merlin mutant. We concluded that donors with cell-to-cell-spread-inhibiting plasma are nonexistent or extremely rare, emphasizing cell-associated spread as a highly efficient immune escape mechanism of HCMV

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Systems Immunity Research Institute (SIURI)
Publisher: MDPI Publishing
ISSN: 1999-4915
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 September 2018
Date of Acceptance: 12 September 2018
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 04:41

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