A vaccine protective against diverse HCV variants is needed to control the HCV epidemic. Structures of E2 complexes with front layer-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) isolated from HCV-infected individuals, revealed a disulfide bond-containing CDRH3 that adopts straight (individuals who clear infection) or bent (individuals with chronic infection) conformation. To investigate whether a straight versus bent disulfide bond-containing CDRH3 is specific to particular HCV-infected individuals, we solved a crystal structure of the HCV E2 ectodomain in complex with AR3X, a bNAb with an unusually long CDRH2 that was isolated from the chronically-infected individual from whom the bent CDRH3 bNAbs were derived. The structure revealed that AR3X utilizes both its ultralong CDRH2 and a disulfide motif-containing straight CDRH3 to recognize the E2 front layer. These results demonstrate that both the straight and bent CDRH3 classes of HCV bNAb can be elicited in a single individual, revealing a structural plasticity of -derived bNAbs.
© 2020, Flyak et al.