Promoting Fc-Fc interactions between anti-capsular antibodies provides strong immune protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Leire Aguinagalde Salazar, Maurits A den Boer, Suzanne M Castenmiller, Seline A Zwarthoff, Carla de Haas, Piet C Aerts, Frank J Beurskens, Janine Schuurman, Albert J R Heck, Kok van Kessel, Suzan H M Rooijakkers

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Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia and an important cause of childhood mortality. Despite the introduction of successful vaccines, the global spread of both non-vaccine serotypes and antibiotic-resistant strains reinforces the development of alternative therapies against this pathogen. One possible route is the development of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that induce killing of bacteria via the immune system. Here, we investigate whether mAbs can be used to induce killing of pneumococcal serotypes for which the current vaccines show unsuccessful protection. Our study demonstrates that when human mAbs against pneumococcal capsule polysaccharides (CPS) have a poor capacity to induce complement activation, a critical process for immune protection against pneumococci, their activity can be strongly improved by hexamerization-enhancing mutations. Our data indicate that anti-capsular antibodies may have a low capacity to form higher-order oligomers (IgG hexamers) that are needed to recruit complement component C1. Indeed, specific point mutations in the IgG-Fc domain that strengthen hexamerization strongly enhance C1 recruitment and downstream complement activation on encapsulated pneumococci. Specifically, hexamerization-enhancing mutations E430G or E345K in CPS6-IgG strongly potentiate complement activation on S. pneumoniae strains that express capsular serotype 6 (CPS6), and the highly invasive serotype 19A strain. Furthermore, these mutations improve complement activation via mAbs recognizing CPS3 and CPS8 strains. Importantly, hexamer-enhancing mutations enable mAbs to induce strong opsonophagocytic killing by human neutrophils. Finally, passive immunization with CPS6-IgG1-E345K protected mice from developing severe pneumonia. Altogether, this work provides an important proof of concept for future optimization of antibody therapies against encapsulated bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere80669
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2023


  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils
  • Pneumococcal Infections/prevention & control
  • Serogroup
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae


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