Product(s) used in this publication: PepStar™ Peptide Microarrays
Despite the serious public health impact of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), the efficacy of antivirals targeting the causative agent, CCHF virus (CCHFV), remains debatable. Neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) targeting the CCHFV glycoprotein Gc have been reported to protect mice against challenge with the prototype CCHFV strain, IbAr10200. However, due to extensive sequence diversity of CCHFV glycoproteins, it is unknown whether these MAbs neutralize other CCHFV strains. We initially used a CCHF virus-like particle (VLP) system to generate 11 VLP moieties, each possessing a glycoprotein from a genetically diverse CCHFV strain isolated in either Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or southeastern Europe. We used these VLPs in biosafety level 2 conditions to efficiently screen MAb cross-neutralization potency. Of the 16 MAbs tested, 3 (8A1, 11E7, and 30F7) demonstrated cross-neutralization activity with most CCHF VLPs, with 8A1 neutralizing all VLPs tested. Although binding studies suggest that none of the MAbs compete for the same epitope, combining 11E7, 30F7, or both 11E7 and 30F7 with 8A1 had no additive effect on increasing neutralization in this system. To confirm our findings from the VLP system, the 3 MAbs capable of strain cross-neutralization were confirmed to effectively neutralize 5 diverse CCHFV strains in vitro. Passaging CCHFV strains in the presence of sub-neutralizing concentrations of MAbs did not generate escape mutants resistant to subsequent neutralization. This study demonstrates the utility of the VLP system for screening neutralizing MAbs against multiple CCHFV strains, and provides the first evidence that a single MAb can effectively neutralize a number of diverse CCHFV strains in vitro, which may lead to development of future CCHF therapeutics.