To examine the relationship between HIV-1 antigenic load (plasma RNA copies/ml) and broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity.
Plasma from 120 HIV-1 infected patients, including HIV-1 Natural Viral Suppressors (similar to Elite Controllers), was tested for neutralization against 15 Tier 1/Tier 2 HIV-1 pseudoviruses. Broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity was confirmed with IgG and heterlogous clade testing (18 pseudoviruses from Clades A, C, and CRF02_AG). Statistical analysis was performed to determine factors associated with broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity.
Ten individuals with broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity were identified. These individuals had a median CD4 count of 589 cells/ul (range 202–927), 1,611 HIV-1 RNA copies/ml (range 110–8,964), and 13 years since HIV diagnosis (range 1–22). There was a significant correlation between the presence of broadly neutralizing antibodies in those with HIV-1 RNA between 100 and 10,000 copies/ml compared to those <100 or >10,000 copies/ml (p=.0003 and .0245, respectively). Individuals with HIV-1 RNA 100–10,000 copies/ml had a higher number of Tier 2 viruses neutralized compared to the <100or >10,000 copies/ml groups (p=< .0001 and p=.076, respectively). Male sex was associated with broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity (p=.016).
These results indicate that low but persistent HIV antigen expression correlates with broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity. At higher levels of plasma viremia, neutralization titers were diminished. Conversely, at lower levels, there appears to be insufficient antigen stimulation to maintain high neutralization titers. These findings may have important implications in furthering the understanding of the humoral response to HIV infection.
HIV; broadly neutralizing antibody; neutralizing activity; HIV RNA; natural viral suppressor; elite controller
Defining the specificities of the anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope antibodies able to mediate broad heterologous neutralization will assist in identifying targets for an HIV-1 vaccine. We screened 70 plasmas from chronically HIV-1-infected individuals for neutralization breadth. Of these, 16 (23%) were found to neutralize 80% or more of the viruses tested. Anti-CD4 binding site (CD4bs) antibodies were found in almost all plasmas independent of their neutralization breadth, but they mainly mediated neutralization of the laboratory strain HxB2 with little effect on the primary virus, Du151. Adsorption with Du151 monomeric gp120 reduced neutralizing activity to some extent in most plasma samples when tested against the matched virus, although these antibodies did not always confer cross-neutralization. For one plasma, this activity was mapped to a site overlapping the CD4-induced (CD4i) epitope and CD4bs. Anti-membrane-proximal external region (MPER) (r = 0.69; P < 0.001) and anti-CD4i (r = 0.49; P < 0.001) antibody titers were found to be correlated with the neutralization breadth. These anti-MPER antibodies were not 4E10- or 2F5-like but spanned the 4E10 epitope. Furthermore, we found that anti-cardiolipin antibodies were correlated with the neutralization breadth (r = 0.67; P < 0.001) and anti-MPER antibodies (r = 0.6; P < 0.001). Our study suggests that more than one epitope on the envelope glycoprotein is involved in the cross-reactive neutralization elicited during natural HIV-1 infection, many of which are yet to be determined, and that polyreactive antibodies are possibly involved in this phenomenon.
Attempts to elicit broadly neutralizing antibody responses by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine antigens have been met with limited success. To better understand the requirements for cross-neutralization of HIV-1, we have characterized the neutralizing antibody specificities present in the sera of three asymptomatic individuals exhibiting broad neutralization. Two individuals were infected with clade B viruses and the third with a clade A virus. The broadly neutralizing activity could be exclusively assigned to the protein A-reactive immunoglobulin G (IgG) fraction of all three donor sera. Neutralization inhibition assays performed with a panel of linear peptides corresponding to the third hypervariable (V3) loop of gp120 failed to inhibit serum neutralization of a panel of HIV-1 viruses. The sera also failed to neutralize chimeric simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and HIV-2 viruses displaying highly conserved gp41-neutralizing epitopes, suggesting that antibodies directed against these epitopes likely do not account for the broad neutralizing activity observed. Polyclonal IgG was fractionated on recombinant monomeric clade B gp120, and the neutralization capacities of the gp120-depleted samples were compared to that of the original polyclonal IgG. We found that the gp120-binding antibody population mediated neutralization of some isolates, but not all. Overall, the data suggest that broad neutralization results from more than one specificity in the sera but that the number of these specificities is likely small. The most likely epitope recognized by the monomeric gp120 binding neutralizing fraction is the CD4 binding site, although other epitopes, such as the glycan shield, cannot be excluded.
We assessed differences in the character and specificity of autologous neutralizing antibodies (ANAbs) against individual viral variants of the quasispecies in a cohort of drug-naïve subjects with long-term controlled human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection and moderate levels of broad heterologous neutralizing antibodies (HNAb). Functional plasma virus showed continuous env evolution despite a short time frame and low levels of viral replication. Neutralization-sensitive variants dominated in subjects with intermittent viral blips, while neutralization-resistant variants predominated in elite controllers. By sequence analysis of this panel of autologous variants with various sensitivities to neutralization, we identified more than 30 residues in envelope proteins (Env) associated with resistance or sensitivity to ANAbs. The appearance of new sensitive variants is consistent with a model of continuous selection and turnover. Strong ANAb responses directed against autologous Env variants are present in long-term chronically infected individuals, suggesting a role for these responses in contributing to the durable control of HIV replication.
Induction of antibodies that neutralize a broad range of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) isolates is a major goal of vaccine development. To study natural examples of broad neutralization, we analyzed sera from 103 HIV-1-infected subjects. Among progressor patients, 20% of sera neutralized more than 75% of a panel of 20 diverse viral isolates. Little activity was observed in sera from long-term nonprogressors (elite controllers). Breadth of neutralization was correlated with viral load, but not with CD4 count, history of past antiretroviral use, age, gender, race/ethnicity, or route of exposure. Clustering analysis of sera by a novel method identified a statistically robust subgrouping of sera that demonstrated broad and potent neutralization activity.
Broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) are potentially important tools in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine design. A few rare MAbs have been intensively studied, but we still have a limited appreciation of their neutralization breadth. Using a pseudovirus assay, we evaluated MAbs from clade B-infected donors and a clade B HIV+ plasma against 93 viruses from diverse backgrounds. Anti-gp120 MAbs exhibited greater activity against clade B than non-B viruses, whereas anti-gp41 MAbs exhibited broad interclade activity. Unexpectedly, MAb 4E10 (directed against the C terminus of the gp41 ectodomain) neutralized all 90 viruses with moderate potency. MAb 2F5 (directed against an epitope adjacent to that of 4E10) neutralized 67% of isolates, but none from clade C. Anti-gp120 MAb b12 (directed against an epitope overlapping the CD4 binding site) neutralized 50% of viruses, including some from almost every clade. 2G12 (directed against a high-mannose epitope on gp120) neutralized 41% of the viruses, but none from clades C or E. MAbs to the gp120 V3 loop, including 447-52D, neutralized a subset of clade B viruses (up to 45%) but infrequently neutralized other clades (≤7%). MAbs b6 (directed against the CD4 binding site) and X5 (directed against a CD4-induced epitope of gp120) neutralized only sensitive primary clade B viruses. The HIV+ plasma neutralized 70% of the viruses, including some from all major clades. Further analysis revealed five neutralizing immunotypes that were somewhat associated with clades. As well as the significance for vaccine design, our data have implications for passive-immunization studies in countries where clade C viruses are common, given that only MAbs b12 and 4E10 were effective against viruses from this clade.
The isolation of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that neutralize a broad spectrum of primary HIV-1 isolates and the characterization of the human neutralizing antibody B cell response to HIV-1 infection are important goals that are central to the design of an effective antibody-based vaccine.
Methods and Findings
We immortalized IgG+ memory B cells from individuals infected with diverse clades of HIV-1 and selected on the basis of plasma neutralization profiles that were cross-clade and relatively potent. Culture supernatants were screened using various recombinant forms of the envelope glycoproteins (Env) in multiple parallel assays. We isolated 58 mAbs that were mapped to different Env surfaces, most of which showed neutralizing activity. One mAb in particular (HJ16) specific for a novel epitope proximal to the CD4 binding site on gp120 selectively neutralized a multi-clade panel of Tier-2 HIV-1 pseudoviruses, and demonstrated reactivity that was comparable in breadth, but distinct in neutralization specificity, to that of the other CD4 binding site-specific neutralizing mAb b12. A second mAb (HGN194) bound a conserved epitope in the V3 crown and neutralized all Tier-1 and a proportion of Tier-2 pseudoviruses tested, irrespective of clade. A third mAb (HK20) with broad neutralizing activity, particularly as a Fab fragment, recognized a highly conserved epitope in the HR-1 region of gp41, but showed striking assay-dependent selectivity in its activity.
This study reveals that by using appropriate screening methods, a large proportion of memory B cells can be isolated that produce mAbs with HIV-1 neutralizing activity. Three of these mAbs show unusual breadth of neutralization and therefore add to the current panel of HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies with potential for passive protection and template-based vaccine design.
A major problem hampering the development of an effective vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is the resistance of many primary viral isolates to antibody-mediated neutralization. To identify factors responsible for this resistance, determinants of the large differences in neutralization sensitivities of HIV-1 pseudotyped with Env proteins derived from two prototypic clade B primary isolates were mapped. SF162 Env pseudotypes were neutralized very potently by a panel of sera from HIV-infected individuals, while JR-FL Env pseudotypes were neutralized by only a small fraction of these sera. This differential sensitivity to neutralization was also observed for a number of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) directed against sites in the V2, V3, and CD4 binding domains, despite often similar binding affinities of these MAbs towards the two soluble rgp120s. The neutralization phenotypes were switched for chimeric Envs in which the V1/V2 domains of these two sequences were exchanged, indicating that the V1/V2 region regulated the overall neutralization sensitivity of these Envs. These results suggested that the inherent neutralization resistance of JR-FL, and presumably of related primary isolates, is to a great extent mediated by gp120 V1/V2 domain structure rather than by sequence variations at the target sites. Three MAbs (immunoglobulin G-b12, 2G12, and 2F5) previously reported to possess broad neutralizing activity for primary HIV-1 isolates neutralized JR-FL virus at least as well as SF162 virus and were not significantly affected by the V1/V2 domain exchanges. The rare antibodies capable of neutralizing a broad range of primary isolates thus appeared to be targeted to exceptional epitopes that are not sensitive to V1/V2 domain regulation of neutralization sensitivity.
A protective vaccine against HIV-1 will likely require the elicitation of a broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) response. Although the development of an immunogen that elicits such antibodies remains elusive, a proportion of HIV-1 infected individuals evolve broadly neutralizing serum responses over time, demonstrating that the human immune system can recognize and generate NAbs to conserved epitopes on the virus. Understanding the specificities that mediate broad neutralization will provide insight into which epitopes should be targeted for immunogen design and aid in the isolation of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies from these donors. Here, we have used a number of new and established technologies to map the bNAb specificities in the sera of 19 donors who exhibit among the most potent cross-clade serum neutralizing activities observed to date. The results suggest that broad and potent serum neutralization arises in most donors through a limited number of specificities (1–2 per donor). The major targets recognized are an epitope defined by the bNAbs PG9 and PG16 that is associated with conserved regions of the V1, V2 and V3 loops, an epitope overlapping the CD4 binding site and possibly the coreceptor binding site, an epitope sensitive to a loss of the glycan at N332 and distinct from that recognized by the bNAb 2G12 and an epitope sensitive to an I165A substitution. In approximately half of the donors, key N-linked glycans were critical for expression of the epitopes recognized by the bNAb specificities in the sera.
The development of an immunogen that elicits antibodies that neutralize a wide range of global circulating HIV-1 isolates is a major goal of HIV-1 vaccine research. Unfortunately, even the most promising antibody-based vaccine candidates have only induced NAb responses that neutralize a limited number of these strains. However, recent studies have demonstrated that broad and potent NAb responses develop in the sera of a subset of HIV-1 infected individuals, and studying the nature of these responses may provide clues for the design of new vaccine immunogens. Here, we show that the broad neutralization in the sera of most of the individual donors that we studied can be associated with single or a small number of specificities. Across the donor panel, broad neutralization appears associated with 4–5 principal specificities.
Broad and potent neutralizing antibody (BNAb) responses are rare in people infected by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Clearly defining the nature of BNAb epitopes on HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Envs) targeted in vivo is critical for future directions of anti-HIV-1 vaccine development. Conventional techniques are successful in defining neutralizing epitopes in a small number of individual subjects but fail in studying large groups of subjects. Two independent methods were employed to investigate the nature of NAb epitopes targeted in 9 subjects, identified by the NIAID Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) 001 and 008 clinical teams, known to make a strong BNAb response. Neutralizing activity from 8/9 subjects was enhanced by enriching high-mannose N-linked glycan (HM-glycan) of HIV-1 glycoproteins on neutralization target viruses and was sensitive to specific glycan deletion mutations of HIV-1 glycoproteins, indicating that HM-glycan-dependent epitopes are targeted by BNAb responses in these subjects. This discovery adds to accumulating evidence supporting the hypothesis that glycans are important targets on HIV-1 glycoproteins for BNAb responses in vivo, providing an important lead for future directions in developing NAb-based anti-HIV-1 vaccines.
To design a vaccine that will remain potent against HIV-1, the immunogenic regions in the viral envelope that tend to change as well as those that remain constant over time must be identified. To determine the neutralization profiles of sequential viruses over time and study whether neutralization patterns correlate with sequence evolution, 12 broadly neutralizing plasmas from HIV-1 subtype B-infected individuals were tested for their ability to neutralize sequential primary HIV-1 subtype B viruses from four individuals. Three patterns of neutralization were observed, including a loss of neutralization sensitivity by viruses over time, an increase in neutralization sensitivity by sequential viruses, or a similarity in the sensitivity of sequential viruses to neutralization. Seven to 11 gp160 clones from each sequential virus sample were sequenced and analyzed to identify mutational patterns. Analysis of the envelope sequences of the sequential viruses revealed changes characteristic of the neutralization patterns. Viruses that evolved to become resistant to neutralizing antibodies also evolved with diverse sequences, with most of the changes being due to nonsynonymous mutations occurring in the V1/V2, as well as in the constant regions (C2, C3, C4), the most changes occurring in the C3. Viruses from the patient that evolved to become more sensitive to neutralization exhibited less sequence diversity with fewer nonsynonymous changes that occurred mainly in the V1/V2 region. The V3 region remained constant over time for all the viruses tested. This study demonstrates that as viruses evolve in their host, they either become sensitive or resistant to neutralization by antibodies in heterologous plasma and mutations in different envelope regions account for these changes in their neutralization profiles.
We report on the use of spectral map analysis of the inter- and intraclade neutralization data of 14 sera of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals and 16 primary isolates, representing genetic clades A to H in group M and group O. This multivariate analysis has been used previously to study the interaction between drugs and receptors and between viruses and antiviral compounds. The analysis reveals the existence of neutralization clusters, not correlated with the known genetic clades. The structural factors that have been identified may correlate with the most important neutralization epitopes. Three key primary HIV-1 isolates, which allow discrimination of sera that are likely or unlikely to neutralize primary isolates from most of the genetic clades, were identified. Our method of analysis will facilitate the evaluation as well as the design of suitable HIV-1 vaccines, which induce high-titer interclade cross-neutralizing antibodies.
In R5-tropic clade C simian-human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIV-Cs), we identified a 3-asparagine (3N) deletion mutation in the V2 loop stem of gp120 as the major determinant of neutralization escape of the anti-CD4-binding site (anti-CD4-bs) neutralizing monoclonal antibody (nMAb) b12. However, the more potent anti-CD4-bs nMAbs VRC01 and VRC03 were not sensitive to this mutation. Using isogenic tier 1 or tier 2 proviruses differing only in the 3N mutation, we showed that this mutation might result in selective conformational b12 epitope masking. Therefore, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Env immunogens targeting the CD4-bs and designed to neutralize tier 2 viruses should take conformational masking by the V2 loop into account.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), which develop over time in some HIV-1 infected individuals, define critical epitopes for HIV vaccine design. Using a systematic approach, we have examined neutralization breadth in the sera of about 1,800 HIV-1 infected individuals, primarily infected with non-clade B viruses, and selected donors for monoclonal antibody (mAb) generation. We then used a high-throughput neutralization screen of antibody-containing culture supernatants from approximately 30,000 activated memory B cells from a clade A-infected African donor to isolate two potent mAbs that target a broadly neutralizing epitope. The previously undescribed epitope is preferentially expressed on trimeric Envelope protein and spans conserved regions of variable loops of the gp120 subunit. The results provide a framework for the design of new vaccine candidates for the elicitation of bNAb responses.
A substantial proportion of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals has cross-reactive neutralizing activity in serum, with a similar prevalence in progressors and long-term nonprogressors (LTNP). We studied whether disease progression in the face of cross-reactive neutralizing serum activity is due to fading neutralizing humoral immunity over time or to viral escape. In three LTNP and three progressors, high-titer cross-reactive HIV-1-specific neutralizing activity in serum against a multiclade pseudovirus panel was preserved during the entire clinical course of infection, even after AIDS diagnosis in progressors. However, while early HIV-1 variants from all six individuals could be neutralized by autologous serum, the autologous neutralizing activity declined during chronic infection. This could be attributed to viral escape and the apparent inability of the host to elicit neutralizing antibodies to the newly emerging viral escape variants. Escape from autologous neutralizing activity was not associated with a reduction in the viral replication rate in vitro. Escape from autologous serum with cross-reactive neutralizing activity coincided with an increase in the length of the variable loops and in the number of potential N-linked glycosylation sites in the viral envelope. Positive selection pressure was observed in the variable regions in envelope, suggesting that, at least in these individuals, these regions are targeted by humoral immunity with cross-reactive potential. Our results may imply that the ability of HIV-1 to rapidly escape cross-reactive autologous neutralizing antibody responses without the loss of viral fitness is the underlying explanation for the absent effect of potent cross-reactive neutralizing humoral immunity on the clinical course of infection.
During human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, patients develop various levels of neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses. In some cases, patient sera can potently neutralize diverse strains of HIV-1, but the antibody specificities that mediate this broad neutralization are not known, and their elucidation remains a formidable challenge. Due to variable and nonneutralizing determinants on the exterior envelope glycoprotein (Env), nonnative Env protein released from cells, and the glycan shielding that assembles in the context of the quaternary structure of the functional spike, HIV-1 Env elicits a myriad of binding antibodies. However, few of these antibodies can neutralize circulating viruses. We present a systematic analysis of the NAb specificities of a panel of HIV-1-positive sera, using methodologies that identify both conformational and continuous neutralization determinants on the HIV-1 Env protein. Characterization of sera included selective adsorption with native gp120 and specific point mutant variants, chimeric virus analysis, and peptide inhibition of viral neutralization. The gp120 protein was the major neutralizing determinant for most sera, although not all neutralization activity against all viruses could be identified. In some broadly neutralizing sera, the gp120-directed neutralization mapped to the CD4 binding region of gp120. In addition, we found evidence that regions of the gp120 coreceptor binding site may also be a target of neutralizing activity. Sera displaying limited neutralization breadth were mapped to the immunogenic V3 region of gp120. In a subset of sera, we also identified NAbs directed against the conserved, membrane-proximal external region of gp41. These data allow a more detailed understanding of the humoral responses to the HIV-1 Env protein and provide insights regarding the most relevant targets for HIV-1 vaccine design.
Neutralizing antibody (nAb) response is sporadic and has limited potency and breadth during infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). In rare cases, broad and potent nAbs are actually induced in vivo. Identifying specific epitopes targeted by such broad and potent nAb response is valuable in guiding the design of a prophylactic vaccine aimed to induce nAb. In this study, we have defined neutralizing epitope usage in 7 out of 17 subjects with broad and potent nAbs by using targeted mutagenesis in known neutralizing epitopes of HIV-1 glycoproteins and by using in vitro depletion of serum neutralizing activity by various recombinant HIV-1 glycoproteins. Consistent with recent reports, the CD4 binding site (CD4BS) is targeted by nAbs in vivo (4 of the 7 subjects with defined neutralizing epitopes). The new finding from this study is that epitopes in the gp120 outer domain are also targeted by nAbs in vivo (5 of the 7 subjects). The outer domain epitopes include glycan-dependent epitopes (2 subjects), conserved non-linear epitope in the V3 region (2 subjects), and a CD4BS epitope composed mainly of the elements in the outer domain (1 subject). Importantly, we found indication for epitope poly-specificity, a dual usage of the V3 and CD4BS epitopes, in only one subject. This study provides a more complete profile of epitope usage for broad and potent nAb responses during HIV-1 infection.
A small proportion of HIV-infected individuals generate a neutralizing antibody (NAb) response of exceptional magnitude and breadth. A detailed analysis of the critical epitopes targeted by broadly neutralizing antibodies should help to define optimal targets for vaccine design. HIV-1-infected subjects with potent cross-reactive serum neutralizing antibodies were identified by assaying sera from 308 subjects against a multiclade panel of 12 “tier 2” viruses (4 each of subtypes A, B, and C). Various neutralizing epitope specificities were determined for the top 9 neutralizers, including clade A-, clade B-, clade C-, and clade A/C-infected donors, by using a comprehensive set of assays. In some subjects, neutralization breadth was mediated by two or more antibody specificities. Although antibodies to the gp41 membrane-proximal external region (MPER) were identified in some subjects, the subjects with the greatest neutralization breadth targeted gp120 epitopes, including the CD4 binding site, a glycan-containing quaternary epitope formed by the V2 and V3 loops, or an outer domain epitope containing a glycan at residue N332. The broadly reactive HIV-1 neutralization observed in some subjects is mediated by antibodies targeting several conserved regions on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein.
We have studied genetic variation among clades A through E of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) at the levels of antibody binding to gp120 molecules and virus neutralization. We are unable to identify neutralization serotypes that correspond to the genetic clades. Instead, we observe that inter- and intraclade neutralization of primary isolates by HIV-1-positive sera is generally weak and sporadic; some sera show a reasonable degree of neutralization breadth and potency whereas others are relatively sensitive to neutralization, but no consistent pattern was found. However, a few sera were able to neutralize across clades with significant potency, an observation which may have implications for the feasibility of a broadly effective HIV-1 vaccine involving humoral immunity. Serological assays measuring anti-gp120 antibody binding also failed to identify serotypes that correspond precisely to the genetic clades, but some indications of clade-specific binding were observed, notably with sera from clades B and E. A representative protein for each clade (A through E) was selected on the basis of its specificity, defined as high seroreactivity with sera from individuals infected with virus of that clade and lower reactivity with sera from individuals infected with viruses from other clades. The seroreactivity patterns against these five proteins could be used to predict the genotype of the infecting virus with moderate success.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) primary isolates from four geographical locations in Thailand, Brazil, Rwanda, and Uganda, representing genetic subtypes A, B, C, D, and E, were examined for autologous and heterologous neutralization by panels of human HIV+ polyclonal plasma. In independent linked experiments in three laboratories using diverse methodologies and common reagents, no defined pattern of genetic subtype-specific neutralization was observed. Most plasma tested were broadly cross-neutralizing across two or more genetic subtypes, although the titer of neutralization varied across a wide range. We conclude that the genetic subtypes of HIV-1 are not classical neutralization serotypes.
We have tested three human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) IgG1b12, 2G12, and 2F5) to the envelope glycoproteins of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), and a tetrameric CD4-IgG molecule (CD4-IgG2), for the ability to neutralize primary HIV-1 isolates from the genetic clades A through F and from group O. Each of the reagents broadly and potently neutralized B-clade isolates. The 2F5 MAb and the CD4-IgG2 molecule also neutralized strains from outside the B clade, with the same breadth and potency that they showed against B-clade strains. The other two MAbs were able to neutralize a significant proportion of strains from outside the B clade, although there was a reduction in their efficacy compared with their activity against B-clade isolates. Neutralization of isolates by 2F5 correlated with their possession of the LDKW motif in a segment of gp41 near the membrane-spanning domain. The other two MAbs and CD4-IgG2 recognize discontinuous binding sites on gp120, and so no comparison between genetic sequence and virus neutralization was possible. Our data show that a vaccine based on the induction of humoral immunity that is broadly active across the genetic clades is not impossible if immunogens that express the epitopes for MAbs such as 2F5, 2G12, and IgG1b12 in immunogenic configurations can be created. Furthermore, if the three MAbs and CD4-IgG2 produce clinical benefit in immunotherapeutic trials in the United States or Europe, they may also do so elsewhere in the world.
HIV-1 subtype B and subtype F are prevalent in the AIDS epidemic of Brazil. Recombinations between these subtypes have generated at least four BF circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). CRF28_BF and CRF29_BF are among the first two BF recombinants being identified in Brazil and they contributed significantly to the epidemic. However, the evolution and demographic histories of the CRFs are unclear.
A collection of gag and pol sequences sampled within Brazil was screened for CRF28_BF-like and CRF29_BF-like recombination patterns. A Bayesian coalescent framework was employed to delineate the phylogenetic, divergence time and population dynamics of the virus having CRF28_BF-like and CRF29_BF-like genotype. These recombinants were phylogenetically related to each other and formed a well-supported monophyletic clade dated to 1988–1989. The effective number of infections by these recombinants grew exponentially over a five-year period after their emergence, but then decreased toward the present following a logistic model of population growth. The demographic pattern of both recombinants closely resembles those previously reported for CRF31_BC.
We revealed that HIV-1 recombinants of the CRF28_BF/CRF29_BF clade are still circulating in the Brazilian population. These recombinants did not exhibit a strong founder effect and showed a decreasing prevalence in the AIDS epidemic of Brazil. Our data suggested that multiple URFs may also play a role in shaping the epidemic of recombinant BF HIV-1 in the region.
A minority of HIV-1 infected individuals develop broad cross-neutralizing (BCN) plasma antibodies that are capable of neutralizing a spectrum of virus variants belonging to different HIV-1 clades. The aim of this study was to identify the targeted epitopes of an individual with BCN plasma antibodies, referred to as ITM4, using peptide phage display. This study also aimed to use the selected mimotopes as tools to unravel the evolution of the antibody landscape and the viral envelope escape which may provide us with new insights for vaccine design.
This study led us to identify ITM4 plasma antibodies directed to the 4E10 epitope located in the gp41 membrane-proximal external region (MPER). Analysis of antibody specificities revealed unusual immunogenic properties of the ITM4 viral envelope, as not only the V3 loop and the gp41 MPER but also the C1 and lentivirus lytic peptide 2 (LLP2) region seem to be targets of the immune system. The 4E10-like antibodies are consistently elicited during the 6-year follow up period. HIV-1 ITM4 pseudoviruses showed an increasing resistance over time to MPER monoclonal antibodies 4E10 and 2F5, although no changes are found in the critical positions of the epitope. Neutralization of COT6.15 (subtype C; 4E10-sensitive) pseudoviruses with alanine substitutions in the MPER region indicated an overlapping specificity of the 4E10 monoclonal antibody and the ITM4 follow up plasma. Moreover the 4E10-like antibodies of ITM4 contribute to the BCN capacity of the plasma.
Using ITM4 BCN plasma and peptide phage display technology, we have identified a patient with 4E10-like BCN antibodies. Our results indicate that the elicited 4E10-like antibodies play a role in virus neutralization. The viral RNA was isolated at different time points and the ITM4 envelope sequence analysis of both early (4E10-sensitive) and late (4E10-resistant) viruses suggest that other regions in the envelope, outside the MPER region, contribute to the accessibility and sensitivity of the 4E10 epitope. Including ITM4 specific HIV-1 Env properties in vaccine strategies may be a promising approach.
The characterization of the cross-reactive, or heterologous, neutralizing antibody responses developed during human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection and the identification of factors associated with their generation are relevant to the development of an HIV vaccine. We report that in healthy HIV-positive, antiretroviral-naïve subjects, the breadth of plasma heterologous neutralizing antibody responses correlates with the time since infection, plasma viremia levels, and the binding avidity of anti-Env antibodies. Anti-CD4-binding site antibodies are responsible for the exceptionally broad cross-neutralizing antibody responses recorded only in rare plasma samples. However, in most cases examined, antibodies to the variable regions and to the CD4-binding site of Env modestly contributed in defining the overall breadth of these responses. Plasmas with broad cross-neutralizing antibody responses were identified that targeted the gp120 subunit, but their precise epitopes mapped outside the variable regions and the CD4-binding site. Finally, although several plasmas were identified with cross-neutralizing antibody responses that were not directed against gp120, only one plasma with a moderate breadth of heterologous neutralizing antibody responses contained cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies against the 4E10 epitope, which is within the gp41 transmembrane subunit. Overall, our study indicates that more than one pathway leads to the development of broad cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies during HIV infection and that the virus continuously escapes their action.
The native envelope (Env) spike on the surface of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is trimeric, and thus trimeric Env vaccine immunogens are currently being explored in preclinical immunogenicity studies. Key challenges have included the production and purification of biochemically homogeneous and stable trimers and the evaluation of these immunogens utilizing standardized virus panels for neutralization assays. Here we report the binding and neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses elicited by clade A (92UG037.8) and clade C (CZA97.012) Env gp140 trimer immunogens in guinea pigs. These trimers have been selected and engineered for optimal biochemical stability and have defined antigenic properties. Purified gp140 trimers with Ribi adjuvant elicited potent, cross-clade NAb responses against tier 1 viruses as well as detectable but low-titer NAb responses against select tier 2 viruses from clades A, B, and C. In particular, the clade C trimer elicited NAbs that neutralized 27%, 20%, and 47% of tier 2 viruses from clades A, B, and C, respectively. Heterologous DNA prime, protein boost as well as DNA prime, recombinant adenovirus boost regimens expressing these antigens, however, did not result in an increased magnitude or breadth of NAb responses in this system. These data demonstrate the immunogenicity of stable, homogeneous clade A and clade C gp140 trimers and exemplify the utility of standardized tier 1 and tier 2 virus panels for assessing the NAb responses of candidate HIV-1 Env immunogens.