All influenza viral neuraminidases (NA) of both type A and B viruses have only one universally conserved sequence located between amino acids 222-230. A monoclonal antibody against this region has been previously reported to provide broad inhibition against all nine subtypes of influenza A NA; yet its inhibitory effect against influenza B viral NA remained unknown. Here, we report that the monoclonal antibody provides a broad inhibition against various strains of influenza B viruses of both Victoria and Yamagata genetic lineage. Moreover, the growth and NA enzymatic activity of two drug resistant influenza B strains (E117D and D197E) are also inhibited by the antibody even though these two mutations are conformationally proximal to the universal epitope. Collectively, these data suggest that this unique, highly-conserved linear sequence in viral NA is exposed sufficiently to allow access by inhibitory antibody during the course of infection; it could represent a potential target for antiviral agents and vaccine-induced immune responses against diverse strains of type B influenza virus.
Keywords: Cross-protection; Influenza B; Neuraminidase; Universal antibody; Vaccination.
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