Relationship of the quaternary structure of human secretory IgA to neutralization of influenza virus

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jun 23;112(25):7809-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1503885112. Epub 2015 Jun 8.


Secretory IgA (S-IgA) antibodies, the major contributors to humoral mucosal immunity to influenza virus infection, are polymeric Igs present in many external secretions. In the present study, the quaternary structures of human S-IgA induced in nasal mucosa after administration of intranasal inactivated influenza vaccines were characterized in relation to neutralization potency against influenza A viruses. Human nasal IgA antibodies have been shown to contain at least five quaternary structures. Direct and real-time visualization of S-IgA using high-speed atomic force microscopy (AFM) demonstrated that trimeric and tetrameric S-IgA had six and eight antigen-binding sites, respectively, and that these structures exhibited large-scale asynchronous conformational changes while capturing influenza HA antigens in solution. Furthermore, trimeric, tetrameric, and larger polymeric structures, which are minor fractions in human nasal IgA, displayed increased neutralizing potency against influenza A viruses compared with dimeric S-IgA, suggesting that the larger polymeric than dimeric forms of S-IgA play some important roles in protection against influenza A virus infection in the human upper respiratory tract.

Keywords: high-speed atomic force microscopy; influenza virus; intranasal inactivated influenza vaccine; secretory IgA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / chemistry
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / immunology*
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Orthomyxoviridae / immunology*
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary


  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory