Zika virus (ZIKV) is a major human pathogen and member of the Flavivirus genus in the Flaviviridae family. In contrast to most other insect-transmitted flaviviruses, ZIKV also can be transmitted sexually and from mother to fetus in humans. During recent outbreaks, ZIKV infections have been linked to microcephaly, congenital disease, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Neutralizing antibodies have potential as therapeutic agents. We report here a 4-Å-resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of the ZIKV virion in complex with Fab fragments of the potently neutralizing human monoclonal antibody ZIKV-195. The footprint of the ZIKV-195 Fab fragment expands across two adjacent envelope (E) protein protomers. ZIKV neutralization by this antibody is presumably accomplished by cross-linking the E proteins, which likely prevents formation of E protein trimers required for fusion of the viral and cellular membranes. A single dose of ZIKV-195 administered 5 days after virus inoculation showed marked protection against lethality in a stringent mouse model of infection.
Keywords: Zika virus; cryo-EM structure; membrane-fusion inhibition; monoclonal antibody; neutralization mechanism.