Despite numerous attempts over many years to develop an HIV vaccine based on classical strategies, none has convincingly succeeded to date. A number of approaches are being pursued in the field, including building upon possible efficacy indicated by the recent RV144 clinical trial, which combined two HIV vaccines. Here, we argue for an approach based, in part, on understanding the HIV envelope spike and its interaction with broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) at the molecular level and using this understanding to design immunogens as possible vaccines. BnAbs can protect against virus challenge in animal models and many such antibodies have been isolated recently. We further propose that studies focused on how best to provide T cell help to B cells that produce bnAbs are crucial for optimal immunization strategies. The synthesis of rational immunogen design and immunization strategies, together with iterative improvements, offers great promise for advancing toward an HIV vaccine.
A major priority in HIV vaccine research is the development of an immunogen to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies (NAbs). Monoclonal antibody (mAb) b12 is one of now several broadly neutralizing mAbs that bind epitopes overlapping the CD4-binding site (CD4bs) on HIV-1 gp120 and that serve as templates to engineer effective immunogens. We are exploring a strategy whereby extra glycans are incorporated onto gp120 to occlude the epitopes of non-neutralizing mAbs while maintaining exposure of the b12 site. Immunizing with these so-called hyperglycosylated gp120s is hypothesized to preferentially elicit b12-like NAbs. Here, the effects of two adjuvants, monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) and Quil A, on eliciting b12-like responses when formulated with a new hyperglycosylated mutant, ΔN2mCHO(Q105N), is presented. Sera from ΔN2mCHO(Q105N)_MPL immunized animals bound the homologous antigen ΔN2mCHO(Q105N) with greater preference than sera from ΔN2mCHO(Q105N) QuilA immunized animals, demonstrating the modulation of antibody fine specificity by these two adjuvants. We also found that sera from ΔN2mCHO(Q105N)_QuilA immunized animals bound best to a resurfaced HIV gp120 core protein on which non-CD4bs epitopes are substituted with non-HIV residues, suggesting that these sera contain a relatively larger fraction of CD4bs-specific antibodies. Consistent with these data, inhibition assays revealed epitope overlap with the binding sites of the CD4bs-specific antibodies b12, b13 and VRC03. Unexpectedly, these sera did not exhibit significant neutralizing activity against a set of HIV-1 primary strains. Our results show that although formulating mutant ΔN2mCHO(Q105N) with Quil A promotes the elicitation of CD4bs-directed antibodies relative to wild-type gp120, tweaking of the immunization regimen is needed to yield robust, CD4bs-focused NAbs.
Protein engineering; b12; Hyperglycosylation; Immunofocusing
The extracellular virion form (EV) of vaccinia virus (VACV) is essential for viral pathogenesis and is difficult to neutralize with antibodies. Why this is the case and how the smallpox vaccine overcomes this challenge remain incompletely understood. We previously showed that high concentrations of anti-B5 antibodies are insufficient to directly neutralize EV (M. R. Benhnia, et al., J. Virol. 83:1201–1215, 2009). This allowed for at least two possible interpretations: covering the EV surface is insufficient for neutralization, or there are insufficient copies of B5 to allow anti-B5 IgG to cover the whole surface of EV and another viral receptor protein remains active. We endeavored to test these possibilities, focusing on the antibody responses elicited by immunization against smallpox. We tested whether human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against the three major EV antigens, B5, A33, and A56, could individually or together neutralize EV. While anti-B5 or anti-A33 (but not anti-A56) MAbs of appropriate isotypes were capable of neutralizing EV in the presence of complement, a mixture of anti-B5, anti-A33, and anti-A56 MAbs was incapable of directly neutralizing EV, even at high concentrations. This remained true when neutralizing the IHD-J strain, which lacks a functional version of the fourth and final known EV surface protein, A34. These immunological data are consistent with the possibility that viral proteins may not be the active component of the EV surface for target cell binding and infectivity. We conclude that the protection afforded by the smallpox vaccine anti-EV response is predominantly mediated not by direct neutralization but by isotype-dependent effector functions, such as complement recruitment for antibodies targeting B5 and A33.
The highly conserved cluster of high-mannose glycans on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein, gp120, has been highlighted as a target for neutralizing antibodies. 2G12, the first HIV-1 antiglycan neutralizing antibody described, binds with an unusual domain-exchanged structure that creates a high-affinity multivalent binding surface. It is an interesting challenge for rational vaccine design to generate immunogens capable of eliciting domain-exchanged 2G12-like responses. We recently showed that di-mannose recognition by the variable domains of 2G12 is independent of domain exchange but that exchange is critical for virus neutralization. Carbohydrate-based immunogens aimed at inducing 2G12-like antibodies may need to drive both di-mannose recognition and domain exchange through interactions with B cell receptors. Here we assessed the ability of such immunogens to activate mouse B cell lines displaying domain-exchanged wild-type 2G12 (2G12 WT), a non-domain-exchanged Y-shaped variant (2G12 I19R), and germ line 2G12 (2G12 gl). We show that several immunogens, including heat-killed yeast and bacteria, can activate both 2G12 WT and 2G12 I19R B cells. However, only discrete clusters of high-mannose glycans, as on recombinant forms of the HIV-1 envelope trimer and oligodendrons, activate 2G12 WT B cells. Furthermore, no immunogen tested activated 2G12 gl cells. Our results support the hypothesis that in order to drive domain exchange of an antimannose antibody response, a boost with an immunogen displaying discrete clusters of high-mannose glycans not recognized by conventional Y-shaped antibodies will be required. Additionally, a molecule capable of activating 2G12 gl cells might also be required. The results highlight broadly neutralizing antibody-expressing mouse B cells as potentially useful tools for carbohydrate immunogen screening.
Certain human pathogens avoid elimination by our immune system by rapidly mutating the surface antigen protein sites targeted by antibody responses and consequently they tend to be refractory to vaccine development. The behavior described is prominent for a subset of viruses-the highly antigenically diverse viruses-which include HIV, influenza and hepatitis C viruses. However, these viruses do harbor highly conserved exposed sites, usually associated with function, which can be targeted by broadly neutralizing antibodies. Until recently, not many such antibodies were known but advances in the field have enabled increasing numbers to be identified. Molecular characterization of the antibodies and, most importantly, of the sites of vulnerability that they recognize, gives hope for the discovery of new vaccines and drugs.
The recent announcement that a replication defective adenovirus-type 5 Gag-Pol-Nef HIV-1 vaccine developed by Merck failed in the STEP human Phase IIb efficacy trial to either prevent HIV-1 infection or to suppress viral load in subjects who subsequently became infected, was predicted by studies that had evaluated analogous vaccines in the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) challenge/rhesus macaque model. In contrast, vaccine protection studies in macaques that used a chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV89.6P) challenge failed to predict the human trial results. Adenovirus-vector based vaccines did not protect animals from infection after SHIV89.6P challenge but did cause a substantial reduction in viral load and a preservation of CD4+ T-cell counts post-infection, findings that were not reproduced in the human trials. While disappointing for the clinical development of Merck’s vaccine candidate, these studies now enable vaccine designers to utilize the SIV-challenged macaque model with more confidence, thus facilitating the future prioritization of candidate vaccines. Vaccine designers must now develop T-cell vaccine strategies that reduce viral load after heterologous challenge.
Many anti-viral vaccines elicit neutralizing antibodies as a correlate of protection. For HIV, given the huge variability of the virus, it is widely believed that the induction of a broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) response will be crucial in a successful vaccine against the virus. Unfortunately, despite many efforts, the development of an immunogen that elicits bNAbs remains elusive. However, recent structural studies of HIV-1 Env proteins, generation of novel bNAbs, maturation of technologies for the isolation of further antibodies, insights into the requirements for antibody-mediated protection, and novel vaccination approaches are providing grounds for renewed optimism.
Antibody PG9 is a prototypical member of a class of V1/V2-directed antibodies that effectively neutralizes diverse strains of HIV-1. We analyzed strain-specific resistance to PG9 using sequence and structural information. For multiply resistant strains, mutations in a short segment of V1/V2 resulted in gain of sensitivity to PG9 and related V1/V2 neutralizing antibodies, suggesting both a common mechanism of HIV-1 resistance to and a common mode of recognition by this class of antibodies.
Recently, several broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (bnMAbs) directed to the CD4-binding site (CD4bs) of gp120 have been isolated from HIV-1-positive donors. These include VRC01, 3BNC117, and NIH45-46, all of which are capable of neutralizing about 90% of circulating HIV-1 isolates and all of which induce conformational changes in the HIV-1 gp120 monomer similar to those induced by the CD4 receptor. In this study, we characterize PGV04 (also known as VRC-PG04), a MAb with potency and breadth that rivals those of the prototypic VRC01 and 3BNC117. When screened on a large panel of viruses, the neutralizing profile of PGV04 was distinct from those of CD4, b12, and VRC01. Furthermore, the ability of PGV04 to neutralize pseudovirus containing single alanine substitutions exhibited a pattern distinct from those of the other CD4bs MAbs. In particular, substitutions D279A, I420A, and I423A were found to abrogate PGV04 neutralization. In contrast to VRC01, PGV04 did not enhance the binding of 17b or X5 to their epitopes (the CD4-induced [CD4i] site) in the coreceptor region on the gp120 monomer. Furthermore, in contrast to CD4, none of the anti-CD4bs MAbs induced the expression of the 17b epitope on cell surface-expressed cleaved Env trimers. We conclude that potent CD4bs bnMAbs can display differences in the way they recognize and access the CD4bs and that mimicry of CD4, as assessed by inducing conformational changes in monomeric gp120 that lead to enhanced exposure of the CD4i site, is not uniquely correlated with effective neutralization at the site of CD4 binding on HIV-1.
Select HIV-1-infected individuals develop sera capable of neutralizing diverse viral strains. The molecular basis of this neutralization is currently being deciphered by the isolation of HIV-1-neutralizing antibodies. In one infected donor, three neutralizing antibodies, PGT135–137, were identified by assessment of neutralization from individually sorted B cells and found to recognize an epitope containing an N-linked glycan at residue 332 on HIV-1 gp120. Here we use next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics methods to interrogate the B cell record of this donor to gain a more complete understanding of the humoral immune response. PGT135–137-gene family specific primers were used to amplify heavy-chain and light-chain variable-domain sequences. Pyrosequencing produced 141,298 heavy-chain sequences of IGHV4-39 origin and 87,229 light-chain sequences of IGKV3-15 origin. A number of heavy and light-chain sequences of ∼90% identity to PGT137, several to PGT136, and none of high identity to PGT135 were identified. After expansion of these sequences to include close phylogenetic relatives, a total of 202 heavy-chain sequences and 72 light-chain sequences were identified. These sequences were clustered into populations of 95% identity comprising 15 for heavy chain and 10 for light chain, and a select sequence from each population was synthesized and reconstituted with a PGT137-partner chain. Reconstituted antibodies showed varied neutralization phenotypes for HIV-1 clade A and D isolates. Sequence diversity of the antibody population represented by these tested sequences was notably higher than observed with a 454 pyrosequencing-control analysis on 10 antibodies of defined sequence, suggesting that this diversity results primarily from somatic maturation. Our results thus provide an example of how pathogens like HIV-1 are opposed by a varied humoral immune response, derived from intrinsic mechanisms of antibody development, and embodied by somatic populations of diverse antibodies.
antibody bioinformatics; high-throughput sequencing; HIV-1; immunity; N-linked glycan
Failure to elicit broadly neutralizing (bNt) antibodies (Abs) against the membrane-proximal external region of HIV-1 gp41 (MPER) reflects the difficulty of mimicking its neutralization-competent structure (NCS). Here, we analyzed MPER antigenicity in the context of the plasma membrane and identified a role for the gp41 transmembrane domain (TM) in exposing the epitopes of three bNt monoclonal Abs (MAbs) (2F5, 4E10, and Z13e1). We transiently expressed DNA constructs encoding gp41 ectodomain fragments fused to either the TM of the platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) or the gp41 TM and cytoplasmic tail domain (CT). Constructs encoding the MPER tethered to the gp41 TM followed by a 27-residue CT fragment (MPER-TM1) produced optimal MAb binding. Critical binding residues for the three Nt MAbs were identified using a panel of 24 MPER-TM1 mutants bearing single amino acid substitutions in the MPER; many were previously shown to affect MAb-mediated viral neutralization. Moreover, non-Nt mutants of MAbs 2F5 and 4E10 exhibited a reduction in binding to MPER-TM1 and yet maintained binding to synthetic MPER peptides, indicating that MPER-TM1 better approximates the MPER NCS than peptides. Replacement of the gp41 TM and CT of MPER-TM1 with the PDGFR TM reduced binding by MAb 4E10, but not 2F5, indicating that the gp41 TM plays a pivotal role in orienting the 4E10 epitope, and more globally, in affecting MPER exposure.
A neutralizing human monoclonal antibody, KZ52, protects guinea pigs from lethal Ebola Zaire virus challenge. Administration before or up to 1 h after challenge resulted in dose-dependent protection by the antibody. Interestingly, some antibody-treated animals survived despite developing high-level viremia, suggesting that the mechanism of protection by KZ52 may extend beyond reduction of viremia by virus neutralization. KZ52 is a promising candidate for immunoprophylaxis of Ebola virus infection.
Passive transfer of broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies can prevent infection, which suggests that vaccines that elicit such antibodies would be protective. Thus far, however, few broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies that occur naturally have been characterized. To determine whether these antibodies are part of a larger group of related molecules, we cloned 576 new HIV antibodies from four unrelated individuals. All four individuals produced expanded clones of potent broadly neutralizing CD4-binding-site antibodies that mimic binding to CD4. Despite extensive hypermutation, the new antibodies shared a consensus sequence of 68 immunoglobulin H (IgH) chain amino acids and arise independently from two related IgH genes. Comparison of the crystal structure of one of the antibodies to the broadly neutralizing antibody VRC01 revealed conservation of the contacts to the HIV spike.
Human Ebola virus (EBOV) causes severe hemorrhagic fever disease with high mortality and there is no vaccine or treatment. Antibodies in survivors occur early, are sustained, and can delay infection when transferred into nonhuman primates. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from survivors exhibit potent neutralizing activity in vitro and are protective in rodents. To better understand targets and mechanisms of neutralization, we investigated a panel of mAbs shown previously to react with the envelope glycoprotein (GP). While one non-neutralizing mAb recognized a GP epitope in the non-essential mucin-like domain, the rest were specific for GP1, were neutralizing, and could be further distinguished by reactivity with secreted GP. We show that survivor antibodies, human KZ52 and monkey JP3K11, were specific for conformation-dependent epitopes comprising residues in GP1 and GP2 and that neutralization occurred by two distinct mechanisms; KZ52 inhibited cathepsin cleavage of GP whereas JP3K11 recognized the cleaved, fusion-active form of GP.
Virus; Ebola; Immunity; Neutralization; Antibody; Human; Nonhuman Primate; Rodent
Passive transfer of neutralizing antibodies is effective in protecting rhesus macaques against simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge. In addition to neutralization, effector functions of the crystallizable fragment (Fc) of antibodies are involved in antibody-mediated protection against a number of viruses. We recently showed that interaction between the Fc fragment of the broadly neutralizing antibody IgG1 b12 and cellular Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) plays an important role in protection against SHIV infection in rhesus macaques. The specific nature of this Fc-dependent protection is largely unknown. To investigate, we generated a panel of 11 IgG1 b12 antibody variants with selectively diminished or enhanced affinity for the two main activating FcγRs, FcγRIIa and FcγRIIIa. All 11 antibody variants bind gp120 and neutralize virus as effectively as does wild-type b12. Binding studies using monomeric (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA] and surface plasmon resonance [SPR]) and cellularly expressed Fcγ receptors show decreased (up to 5-fold) and increased (up to 90-fold) binding to FcγRIIa and FcγRIIIa with this newly generated panel of antibodies. In addition, there was generally a good correlation between b12 variant affinity for Fcγ receptor and variant function in antibody-dependent cell-mediated virus inhibition (ADCVI), phagocytosis, NK cell activation assays, and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) assays. In future studies, these b12 variants will enable the investigation of the protective role of individual FcγRs in HIV infection.
Phagocytosis can be induced via the engagement of Fcγ receptors by antibody-opsonized material. Furthermore, the efficiency of antibody-induced effector functions has been shown to be dramatically modulated by changes in antibody glycosylation. Because infection can modulate antibody glycans, which in turn modulate antibody functions, assays capable of determining the induction of effector functions rather than neutralization or titer provide a valuable opportunity to more fully characterize the quality of the adaptive immune response. Here we describe a robust and high-throughput flow cytometric assay to define the phagocytic activity of antigen-specific antibodies from clinical samples. This assay employs a monocytic cell line that expresses numerous Fc receptors: including inhibitory and activating, and high and low affinity receptors—allowing complex phenotypes to be studied. We demonstrate the adaptability of this high-throughput, flow-based assay to measure antigen-specific antibody-mediated phagocytosis against an array of viruses, including influenza, HIV, and dengue. The phagocytosis assay format further allows for simultaneous analysis of cytokine release, as well as determination of the role of specific Fcγ-receptor subtypes, making it a highly useful system for parsing differences in the ability of clinical and vaccine induced antibody samples to recruit this critical effector function.
Phagocytosis; Antibody; ADCC; antibody-dependent phagocytosis; monocytes; Fc receptor; effector function
The structure of VRC01 in complex with the HIV-1 gp120 core reveals that this broadly neutralizing CD4 binding site (CD4bs) antibody partially mimics the interaction of the primary virus receptor, CD4, with gp120. Here, we extended the investigation of the VRC01-gp120 core interaction to the biologically relevant viral spike to better understand the mechanism of VRC01-mediated neutralization and to define viral elements associated with neutralization resistance. In contrast to the interaction of CD4 or the CD4bs monoclonal antibody (MAb) b12 with the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env), occlusion of the VRC01 epitope by quaternary constraints was not a major factor limiting neutralization. Mutagenesis studies indicated that VRC01 contacts within the gp120 loop D, the CD4 binding loop, and the V5 region were necessary for optimal VRC01 neutralization, as suggested by the crystal structure. In contrast to interactions with the soluble gp120 monomer, VRC01 interaction with the native viral spike did not occur in a CD4-like manner; VRC01 did not induce gp120 shedding from the Env spike or enhance gp41 membrane proximal external region (MPER)-directed antibody binding to the Env spike. Finally, VRC01 did not display significant reactivity with human antigens, boding well for potential in vivo applications. The data indicate that VRC01 interacts with gp120 in the context of the functional spike in a manner distinct from that of CD4. It achieves potent neutralization by precisely targeting the CD4bs without requiring alterations of Env spike configuration and by avoiding steric constraints imposed by the quaternary structure of the functional Env spike.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains a major medical problem. Antiviral treatment is only partially effective and a vaccine does not exist. Development of more effective therapies has been hampered by the lack of a suitable small animal model. While xenotransplantation of immunodeficient mice with human hepatocytes has shown promise, these models are subject to important challenges. Building on the previous observation that CD81 and occludin (OCLN) comprise the minimal human factors required to render mouse cells permissive to HCV entry in vitro, we attempted murine humanization via a genetic approach. Here we show that expression of two human genes is sufficient to allow HCV infection of fully immunocompetent inbred mice. We establish a precedent for applying mouse genetics to dissect viral entry and validate the role of SCARB1 for HCV uptake. We demonstrate that HCV can be blocked by passive immunization, as well as show that a recombinant vaccinia virus (rVV) vector induces humoral immunity and confers partial protection against heterologous challenge. This system recapitulates a portion of the HCV life cycle in an immunocompetent rodent for the first time, opening opportunities for studying viral pathogenesis and immunity and comprising an effective platform for testing HCV entry inhibitors in vivo.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive individuals can be superinfected with different virus strains. Individuals who control an initial HIV infection are therefore still at risk for subsequent infection with divergent viruses, but the barriers to such superinfection remain unclear. Here we tested long-term nonprogressors' (LTNPs') susceptibility to superinfection using Indian rhesus macaques that express the major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) allele Mamu-B*17, which is associated with control of the pathogenic AIDS virus SIVmac239. The Mamu-B*17-restricted CD8+ T cell repertoire is focused almost entirely on 5 epitopes. We engineered a series of SIVmac239 variants bearing mutations in 3, 4, or all 5 of these epitopes and used them to serially challenge 2 Mamu-B*17-positive LTNPs. None of the escape variants caused breakthrough replication in LTNPs, although they readily infected Mamu-B*17-negative naive macaques. In vitro competing coculture assays and examination of viral evolution in hosts lacking Mamu-B*17 suggested that the mutant viruses had negligible defects in replicative fitness. Both LTNPs maintained robust immune responses, including simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells and neutralizing antibodies. Our results suggest that escape mutations in epitopes bound by “protective” MHC-I molecules may not be sufficient to establish superinfection in LTNPs.
The HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) spike is challenging to study at the molecular level, due in part to its genetic variability, structural heterogeneity and lability. However, the extent of lability in Env function, particularly for primary isolates across clades, has not been explored. Here, we probe stability of function for variant Envs of a range of isolates from chronic and acute infection, and from clades A, B and C, all on a constant virus backbone. Stability is elucidated in terms of the sensitivity of isolate infectivity to destabilizing conditions. A heat-gradient assay was used to determine T90 values, the temperature at which HIV-1 infectivity is decreased by 90% in 1 h, which ranged between ∼40 to 49°C (n = 34). For select Envs (n = 10), the half-lives of infectivity decay at 37°C were also determined and these correlated significantly with the T90 (p = 0.029), though two ‘outliers’ were identified. Specificity in functional Env stability was also evident. For example, Env variant HIV-1ADA was found to be labile to heat, 37°C decay, and guanidinium hydrochloride but not to urea or extremes of pH, when compared to its thermostable counterpart, HIV-1JR-CSF. Blue native PAGE analyses revealed that Env-dependent viral inactivation preceded complete dissociation of Env trimers. The viral membrane and membrane-proximal external region (MPER) of gp41 were also shown to be important for maintaining trimer stability at physiological temperature. Overall, our results indicate that primary HIV-1 Envs can have diverse sensitivities to functional inactivation in vitro, including at physiological temperature, and suggest that parameters of functional Env stability may be helpful in the study and optimization of native Env mimetics and vaccines.
The broadly neutralizing antibody 2G12 recognizes a conserved cluster of high mannose glycans on the surface envelope spike of HIV suggesting that the “glycan shield” defense of the virus can be breached and may, under the right circumstances, serve as a vaccine target. In an attempt to recreate features of the glycan shield semi-synthetically, oligomannosides were coupled to surface lysines on the icosahedral capsids of bacteriophage Qβ and cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV). The Qβ glycoconjugates, but not CPMV, presented oligomannose clusters that bind the antibody 2G12 with high affinity. However, Abs against these 2G12 epitopes were not detected in immunized rabbits. Rather, alternative oligomannose epitopes on the conjugates were immunodominant and elicited high titres of anti-mannose Abs that do not cross-react with the HIV envelope. The results presented reveal important design considerations for a carbohydrate-based vaccine component for HIV.
Maternal HIV-1-specific antibodies are efficiently transferred to newborns; their role in disease control is unknown. We administered non-sterilizing levels of neutralizing IgG, including the human neutralizing monoclonal IgG1b12, to six newborn macaques before oral challenge with SHIVSF612P3. All rapidly developed neutralizing antibodies and had significantly reduced plasma viremia for 6 months. These studies support the use of neutralizing antibodies in enhancing B cell responses and viral control in perinatal settings.
The HIV-1-specific antibodies PG9 and PG16 show marked cross-isolate neutralization breadth and potency. Antibody neutralization has been shown to be dependent on the presence of N-linked glycosylation at position 160 in gp120. We show here that (i) the loss of several key glycosylation sites in the V1, V2, and V3 loops; (ii) the generation of pseudoviruses in the presence of various glycosidase inhibitors; and (iii) the growth of pseudoviruses in a mutant cell line (GnT1−/−) that alters envelope glycosylation patterns all have significant effects on the sensitivity of virus to neutralization by PG9 and PG16. However, the interaction of antibody is not inhibited by sugar monosaccharides corresponding to those found in glycans on the HIV surface. We show that some of the glycosylation effects described are isolate dependent and others are universal and can be used as diagnostic for the presence of PG9 and PG16-like antibodies in the sera of HIV-1-infected patients. The results suggest that PG9 and PG16 recognize a conformational epitope that is dependent on glycosylation at specific variable loop N-linked sites. This information may be valuable for the design of immunogens to elicit PG9 and PG16-like antibodies, as well as constructs for cocrystallization studies.
The broadly neutralizing anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) antibody 2G12 targets the high-mannose cluster on the glycan shield of HIV-1. 2G12 has a unique VH domain-exchanged structure, with a multivalent binding surface that includes two primary glycan binding sites. The high-mannose cluster is an attractive target for HIV-1 vaccine design, but so far, no carbohydrate immunogen has elicited 2G12-like antibodies. Important questions remain as to how this domain exchange arose in 2G12 and how this unusual event conferred unexpected reactivity against the glycan shield of HIV-1. In order to address these questions, we generated a nondomain-exchanged variant of 2G12 to produce a conventional Y/T-shaped antibody through a single amino acid substitution (2G12 I19R) and showed that, as for the 2G12 wild type (2G12 WT), this antibody is able to recognize the same Manα1,2Man motif on recombinant gp120, Candida albicans, and synthetic glycoconjugates. However, the nondomain-exchanged variant of 2G12 is unable to bind the cluster of mannose moieties on the surface of HIV-1. Crystallographic analysis of 2G12 I19R in complex with Manα1,2Man revealed an adaptable hinge between VH and CH1 that enables the VH and VL domains to assemble in such a way that the configuration of the primary binding site and its interaction with disaccharide are remarkably similar in the nondomain-exchanged and domain-exchanged forms. Together with data that suggest that very few substitutions are required for domain exchange, the results suggest potential mechanisms for the evolution of domain-exchanged antibodies and immunization strategies for eliciting such antibodies.