Structural Characterization of Human Astrovirus Antibodies by Lena Meyer

Lena Meyer

UC Santa Cruz | Henwood/Mooradian

Human astrovirus is a major cause of viral diarrhea, especially in children and immunocompromised people, but no vaccines exist to prevent human astrovirus infection. The objective of Lena Meyer’s graduate research is to understand atomic-level details of how neutralizing antibodies block astrovirus infection by targeting the capsid spike protein. This work will lay the foundation for vaccine development.

ABSTRACT

Lena Meyer began her graduate research with a project involving several novel antibodies generated in mice against the human astrovirus capsid spike domain. Human astrovirus is a major cause of viral diarrhea, especially in young, elderly, or hospitalized people. No vaccines exist to prevent human astrovirus infection. The objective of Lena’s research is to understand atomic-level details of how neutralizing antibodies block virus infectivity by targeting the capsid spike protein, hypothesized to be the host cell receptor-binding domain. Her research focuses on determining how the antibodies target spikes from different human astrovirus serotypes. Lena has solved the crystal structure of an antibody/spike complex, 2D9/Spike 8, and identified the spike epitope, or the location on the spike where the antibody binds. In comparison to a previously known antibody/spike structure, 2D9 targets Spike 8 at a novel epitope. Antibody binding at these two epitopes may indicate the importance of both areas for attachment to the host cell receptor. These efforts will create the groundwork for vaccine development.

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