Structure of trimeric pre-fusion rabies virus glycoprotein in complex with two protective antibodies.
Ng WM., Fedosyuk S., English S., Augusto G., Berg A., Thorley L., Haselon A-S., Segireddy RR., Bowden TA., Douglas AD.
Rabies virus (RABV) causes lethal encephalitis and is responsible for approximately 60,000 deaths per year. As the sole virion-surface protein, the rabies virus glycoprotein (RABV-G) mediates host-cell entry. RABV-G's pre-fusion trimeric conformation displays epitopes bound by protective neutralizing antibodies that can be induced by vaccination or passively administered for post-exposure prophylaxis. We report a 2.8-Å structure of a RABV-G trimer in the pre-fusion conformation, in complex with two neutralizing and protective monoclonal antibodies, 17C7 and 1112-1, that recognize distinct epitopes. One of these antibodies is a licensed prophylactic (17C7, Rabishield), which we show locks the protein in pre-fusion conformation. Targeted mutations can similarly stabilize RABV-G in the pre-fusion conformation, a key step toward structure-guided vaccine design. These data reveal the higher-order architecture of a key therapeutic target and the structural basis of neutralization by antibodies binding two key antigenic sites, and this will facilitate the development of improved vaccines and prophylactic antibodies.