Rotaviruses are the leading cause of severe diarrheal disease in young children. Intestinal mucosal IgA responses play a critical role in protective immunity against rotavirus reinfection. Rotaviruses consist of three concentric capsid layers surrounding a genome of 11 segments of double-stranded RNA. The outer layer proteins, VP4 and VP7, which are responsible for viral attachment and entry, are targets for protective neutralizing antibodies. However, IgA mAb’s directed against the intermediate capsid protein VP6, which do not neutralize the virus, have also been shown to protect mice from rotavirus infection and clear chronic infection in SCID mice. We investigated whether the anti-VP6 IgA (7D9) mAb could inhibit rotavirus replication inside epithelial cells and found that 7D9 acted at an early stage of infection to neutralize rotavirus following antibody lipofection. Using electron cryomicroscopy, we determined the three-dimensional structure of the virus-antibody complex. The attachment of 7D9 IgA to VP6 introduces a conformational change in the VP6 trimer, rendering the particle transcriptionally incompetent and preventing the elongation of initiated transcripts. Based on these observations, we suggest that anti-VP6 IgA antibodies confers protection in vivo by inhibiting viral transcription at the start of the intracellular phase of the viral replication cycle.
Ningguo Feng, Jeffrey A. Lawton, Joana Gilbert, Nelly Kuklin, Phuoc Vo, B.V. Venkataram Prasad, Harry B. Greenberg