Letter | Published:

A new mechanism for the neutralization of enveloped viruses by antiviral antibody

Nature volume 321, pages 244246 (15 May 1986) | Download Citation



Despite the considerable research that has been carried out into viral neutralization by antiviral antibody, its mechanisms remain poorly understood1. Cases have been reported in which antiviral antibody can inhibit viral replication without inhibiting the binding and uptake of virus by susceptible cells1. It has been shown that many enveloped viruses enter their target cells by endocytosis and are subsequently located in cellular compartments of increasing acidity2. With several enveloped viruses this acidic pH can catalyse a fusion reaction between the membrane of the virus particle and that of a prelysosomal endosome, thus enabling the viral core to enter the cytosol and replication to commence2,3. We have recently demonstrated that such an endosomal fusion event at mild acidic pH is involved in the entry pathway of the enveloped flavivirus, West Nile virus (WNV), into macrophages4–6. We now show that antiviral antibody can neutralize WNV by inhibiting this intra-endosomal acid-catalysed fusion step and we speculate on possible implications for the future design of antiviral vaccines.

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  1. Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RE, UK

    • Simon W. Gollins
    •  & James S. Porterfield


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