Virus neutralization is governed by the number of antibodies that bind a virion during the cellular entry process. Cellular and serum factors that interact with antibodies have the potential to modulate neutralization potency. Although the addition of serum complement can increase the neutralizing activity of antiviral antibodies in vitro, the mechanism and significance of this augmented potency in vivo remain uncertain. Herein, we show that the complement component C1q increases the potency of antibodies against West Nile virus by modulating the stoichiometric requirements for neutralization. The addition of C1q does not result in virolysis but instead reduces the number of antibodies that must bind the virion to neutralize infectivity. For IgG subclasses that bind C1q avidly, this reduced stoichiometric threshold falls below the minimal number of antibodies required for antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of infection of cells expressing Fc-γ receptors (CD32) and explains how C1q restricts the ADE of flavivirus infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-391
Number of pages11
JournalCell Host and Microbe
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 22 2009




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