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1.  Mechanisms of escape from the PGT128 family of anti-HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies 
Retrovirology  2016;13:8.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) directed against the mannose-patch on the HIV envelope glycoprotein gp120 have several features that make them desirable targets for vaccine design. The PGT125-131 bnAb family is of particular interest due to its superior breadth and potency. The overlapping epitopes recognized by this family are intricate and neutralization requires interaction with at least two N-linked glycans (N332/N334, N295 or N301) in addition to backbone-mediated contact with the 323IGDIR327 motif of the V3 loop. We have recently shown that this bnAb family consists of two distinct antibody classes that can bind alternate arrangements of glycans in the mannose-patch in the absence of N332 thereby limiting viral escape. This led us to further investigate viral resistance and escape mechanisms to the PGT125-131 bnAb family.
Using an escape virus isolated from the PGT125-131 donor as a guide, we show that mutating both the V3 core protein epitope and repositioning critical N-linked glycosylation sites are required to restore neutralization sensitivity. Interestingly, neutralization sensitivity could be restored via different routes for the two distinct bnAb classes within the PGT125-131 family, which may have been important in generating the divergence in recognition. We demonstrate that the observed V3 mutations confer neutralization resistance in other virus strains through both gain-of-function and escape studies. Furthermore, we show that the V3 loop is important in facilitating promiscuous binding to glycans within the mannose-patch.
These data highlight the importance of the V3 loop in the design of immunogens aimed at inducing broad and potent bnAbs that can bind promiscuously to the mannose-patch.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12977-016-0241-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4736637  PMID: 26837192
HIV-1; Neutralizing antibody; Viral escape; Envelope glycoprotein; N-linked glycosylation
2.  Priming a broadly neutralizing antibody response to HIV-1 using a germline-targeting immunogen 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2015;349(6244):156-161.
A major goal of HIV-1 vaccine research is the design of immunogens capable of inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) that bind to the viral envelope glycoprotein (Env). Poor binding of Env to unmutated precursors of bnAbs, including those of the VRC01-class, appears to be a major problem for bnAb induction. We engineered an immunogen that binds to VRC01-class bnAb precursors and immunized knock-in mice expressing germline-reverted VRC01 heavy chains. Induced antibodies showed characteristics of VRC01-class bnAbs, including a short light chain complementarity determining region 3 (CDRL3) and mutations that favored binding to near-native HIV-1 gp120 constructs. In contrast, native-like immunogens failed to activate VRC01-class precursors. The results suggest that rational epitope design can prime rare B cell precursors for affinity maturation to desired targets.
PMCID: PMC4669217  PMID: 26089355
3.  Antibody engineering and therapeutics conference 
mAbs  2014;6(5):1115-1123.
The 25th anniversary of the Antibody Engineering & Therapeutics Conference, the Annual Meeting of The Antibody Society, will be held in Huntington Beach, CA, December 7–11, 2014. Organized by IBC Life Sciences, the event will celebrate past successes, educate participants on current activities and offer a vision of future progress in the field. Keynote addresses will be given by academic and industry experts Douglas Lauffenburger (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Ira Pastan (National Cancer Institute), James Wells (University of California, San Francisco), Ian Tomlinson (GlaxoSmithKline) and Anthony Rees (Rees Consulting AB and Emeritus Professor, University of Bath). These speakers will provide updates of their work, placed in the context of the substantial growth of the industry over the past 25 years.
PMCID: PMC4622443  PMID: 25517297
antibody-drug conjugate; antibody engineering; bispecific antibody; effector functions; immunocytokine
4.  Two Classes of Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies within a Single Lineage Directed to the High-Mannose Patch of HIV Envelope 
Journal of Virology  2014;89(2):1105-1118.
The high-mannose patch of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) envelope (Env) elicits broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) during natural infection relatively frequently, and consequently, this region has become a major target of vaccine design. However, it has also become clear that antibody recognition of the region is complex due, at least in part, to variability in neighboring loops and glycans critical to the epitopes. bnAbs against this region have some shared features and some distinguishing features that are crucial to understand in order to design optimal immunogens that can induce different classes of bnAbs against this region. Here, we compare two branches of a single antibody lineage, in which all members recognize the high-mannose patch. One branch (prototype bnAb PGT128) has a 6-amino-acid insertion in CDRH2 that is crucial for broad neutralization. Antibodies in this branch appear to favor a glycan site at N332 on gp120, and somatic hypermutation is required to accommodate the neighboring V1 loop glycans and glycan heterogeneity. The other branch (prototype bnAb PGT130) lacks the CDRH2 insertion. Antibodies in this branch are noticeably effective at neutralizing viruses with an alternate N334 glycan site but are less able to accommodate glycan heterogeneity. We identify a new somatic variant within this branch that is predominantly dependent on N334. The crystal structure of PGT130 offers insight into differences from PGT128. We conclude that different immunogens may be required to elicit bnAbs that have the optimal characteristics of the two branches of the lineage described.
IMPORTANCE Development of an HIV vaccine is of vital importance for prevention of new infections, and it is thought that elicitation of HIV bnAbs will be an important component of an effective vaccine. Increasingly, bnAbs that bind to the cluster of high-mannose glycans on the HIV envelope glycoprotein, gp120, are being highlighted as important templates for vaccine design. In particular, bnAbs from IAVI donor 36 (PGT125 to PGT131) have been shown to be extremely broad and potent. Combination of these bnAbs enhanced neutralization breadth considerably, suggesting that an optimal immunogen should elicit several antibodies from this family. Here we study the evolution of this antibody family to inform immunogen design. We identify two classes of bnAbs that differ in their recognition of the high-mannose patch and show that different immunogens may be required to elicit these different classes.
PMCID: PMC4300629  PMID: 25378488
5.  Murine Antibody Responses to Cleaved Soluble HIV-1 Envelope Trimers Are Highly Restricted in Specificity 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(20):10383-10398.
Generating neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) is a major goal of many current HIV-1 vaccine efforts. To be of practical value, these nAbs must be both potent and cross-reactive in order to be capable of preventing the transmission of the highly diverse and generally neutralization resistant (Tier-2) HIV-1 strains that are in circulation. The HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) spike is the only target for nAbs. To explore whether Tier-2 nAbs can be induced by Env proteins, we immunized conventional mice with soluble BG505 SOSIP.664 trimers that mimic the native Env spike. Here, we report that it is extremely difficult for murine B cells to recognize the Env epitopes necessary for inducing Tier-2 nAbs. Thus, while trimer-immunized mice raised Env-binding IgG Abs and had high-quality T follicular helper (Tfh) cell and germinal center (GC) responses, they did not make BG505.T332N nAbs. Epitope mapping studies showed that Ab responses in mice were specific to areas near the base of the soluble trimer. These areas are not well shielded by glycans and likely are occluded on virions, which is consistent with the lack of BG505.T332N nAbs. These data inform immunogen design and suggest that it is useful to obscure nonneutralizing epitopes presented on the base of soluble Env trimers and that the glycan shield of well-formed HIV Env trimers is virtually impenetrable for murine B cell receptors (BCRs).
IMPORTANCE Human HIV vaccine efficacy trials have not generated meaningful neutralizing antibodies to circulating HIV strains. One possible hindrance has been the lack of immunogens that properly mimic the native conformation of the HIV envelope trimer protein. Here, we tested the first generation of soluble, native-like envelope trimer immunogens in a conventional mouse model. We attempted to generate neutralizing antibodies to neutralization-resistant circulating HIV strains. Various vaccine strategies failed to induce neutralizing antibodies to a neutralization-resistant HIV strain. Further analysis revealed that mouse antibodies targeted areas near the bottom of the soluble envelope trimers. These areas are not easily accessible on the HIV virion due to occlusion by the viral membrane and may have resulted from an absence of glycan shielding. Our results suggest that obscuring the bottom of soluble envelope trimers is a useful strategy to reduce antibody responses to epitopes that are not useful for virus neutralization.
PMCID: PMC4580201  PMID: 26246566
6.  Optimal Combinations of Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies for Prevention and Treatment of HIV-1 Clade C Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2016;12(3):e1005520.
The identification of a new generation of potent broadly neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies (bnAbs) has generated substantial interest in their potential use for the prevention and/or treatment of HIV-1 infection. While combinations of bnAbs targeting distinct epitopes on the viral envelope (Env) will likely be required to overcome the extraordinary diversity of HIV-1, a key outstanding question is which bnAbs, and how many, will be needed to achieve optimal clinical benefit. We assessed the neutralizing activity of 15 bnAbs targeting four distinct epitopes of Env, including the CD4-binding site (CD4bs), the V1/V2-glycan region, the V3-glycan region, and the gp41 membrane proximal external region (MPER), against a panel of 200 acute/early clade C HIV-1 Env pseudoviruses. A mathematical model was developed that predicted neutralization by a subset of experimentally evaluated bnAb combinations with high accuracy. Using this model, we performed a comprehensive and systematic comparison of the predicted neutralizing activity of over 1,600 possible double, triple, and quadruple bnAb combinations. The most promising bnAb combinations were identified based not only on breadth and potency of neutralization, but also other relevant measures, such as the extent of complete neutralization and instantaneous inhibitory potential (IIP). By this set of criteria, triple and quadruple combinations of bnAbs were identified that were significantly more effective than the best double combinations, and further improved the probability of having multiple bnAbs simultaneously active against a given virus, a requirement that may be critical for countering escape in vivo. These results provide a rationale for advancing bnAb combinations with the best in vitro predictors of success into clinical trials for both the prevention and treatment of HIV-1 infection.
Author Summary
In recent years, a new generation of monoclonal antibodies has been isolated from HIV-1 infected individuals that exhibit broad and potent neutralizing activity when tested against diverse strains of virus. There is a high level of interest in the field in determining if these antibodies can be used to prevent or treat HIV-1 infection. Because HIV-1 is adept at escaping from immune recognition, it is generally thought that combinations of multiple antibodies targeting different sites will be required for efficacy, much the same as seen for conventional antiretroviral drugs. How many and which antibodies to include in such combinations is not known. In this study, a new mathematical model was developed and used to accurately predict various measures of neutralizing activity for all possible combinations having a total of 2, 3, or 4 of the most promising antibodies. Through a systematic and comprehensive comparison, we identified optimal combinations of antibodies that best complement one another for enhanced anti-viral activity, and therefore may be most effective for the prevention or treatment of HIV-1 infection. These results provide important parameters that inform the selection of antibodies to develop for clinical use.
PMCID: PMC4814126  PMID: 27028935
7.  Antibodies to a conformational epitope on gp41 neutralize HIV-1 by destabilizing the Env spike 
Nature communications  2015;6:8167.
The recent identification of three broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against gp120/gp41 interface epitopes has expanded the targetable surface on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer. Using biochemical, biophysical and computational methods, we map the previously unknown trimer epitopes of two related antibodies, 3BC315 and 3BC176. A cryo-EM reconstruction of a soluble Env trimer bound to 3BC315 Fab at 9.3 Å resolution reveals that the antibody binds between two gp41 protomers, and neutralizes the virus by accelerating trimer decay. In contrast, bnAb 35O22 binding to a partially overlapping quaternary epitope at the gp120-gp41 interface does not induce decay. A conserved gp41-proximal glycan at N88 was also shown to play a role in the binding kinetics of 3BC176 and 3BC315. Finally, our data suggest that the dynamic structure of the Env trimer influences exposure of bnAb epitopes.
PMCID: PMC4586043  PMID: 26404402
8.  Composition and Antigenic Effects of Individual Glycan Sites of a Trimeric HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein 
Cell Reports  2016;14(11):2695-2706.
The HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimer is covered by an array of N-linked glycans that shield it from immune surveillance. The high density of glycans on the trimer surface imposes steric constraints limiting the actions of glycan-processing enzymes, so that multiple under-processed structures remain on specific areas. These oligomannose glycans are recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) that are not thwarted by the glycan shield but, paradoxically, target it. Our site-specific glycosylation analysis of a soluble, recombinant trimer (BG505 SOSIP.664) maps the extremes of simplicity and diversity of glycan processing at individual sites and reveals a mosaic of dense clusters of oligomannose glycans on the outer domain. Although individual sites usually minimally affect the global integrity of the glycan shield, we identify examples of how deleting some glycans can subtly influence neutralization by bNAbs that bind at distant sites. The network of bNAb-targeted glycans should be preserved on vaccine antigens.
Graphical Abstract
•Quantitative, site-specific N-glycan analysis of a soluble HIV-1 Env trimer•A map of the extremes of simplicity and diversity at individual glycan sites•The fine structure of the mannose patch area of the Env trimer•How individual glycan sites influence HIV-1 Env-pseudovirus neutralization
Behrens et al. present detailed, quantitative, site-specific analyses of N-glycosylation sites of a soluble recombinant HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimer. The results highlight structural and antigenic details of the glycan shield that will be valuable for designing next-generation HIV-1 Env vaccines and understanding virus neutralization by broadly active antibodies.
PMCID: PMC4805854  PMID: 26972002
9.  Manipulating the selection forces during affinity maturation to generate cross-reactive HIV antibodies 
Cell  2015;160(4):785-797.
Generation of potent antibodies by a mutation-selection process called affinity maturation is a key component of effective immune responses. Antibodies that protect against highly mutable pathogens must neutralize diverse strains. Developing effective immunization strategies to drive their evolution requires understanding how affinity maturation happens in an enviroment where variants of the same antigen are present. We present an in silico model of affinity maturation driven by antigen variants which reveals that induction of cross-reactive antibodies often occurs with low probability because conflicting selection forces, imposed by different antigen variants, can frustrate affinity maturation. We describe how variables such as temporal pattern of antigen administration influence the outcome of this frustrated evolutionary process. Our calculations predict, and experiments in mice with variant gp120 constructs of the HIV envelope protein confirm, that sequential immunization with antigen variants is preferred over a cocktail for induction of cross-reactive antibodies focused on the shared CD4 binding site epitope.
PMCID: PMC4357364  PMID: 25662010
10.  Haplotype-Phased Synthetic Long Reads from Short-Read Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0147229.
Next-generation DNA sequencing has revolutionized the study of biology. However, the short read lengths of the dominant instruments complicate assembly of complex genomes and haplotype phasing of mixtures of similar sequences. Here we demonstrate a method to reconstruct the sequences of individual nucleic acid molecules up to 11.6 kilobases in length from short (150-bp) reads. We show that our method can construct 99.97%-accurate synthetic reads from bacterial, plant, and animal genomic samples, full-length mRNA sequences from human cancer cell lines, and individual HIV env gene variants from a mixture. The preparation of multiple samples can be multiplexed into a single tube, further reducing effort and cost relative to competing approaches. Our approach generates sequencing libraries in three days from less than one microgram of DNA in a single-tube format without custom equipment or specialized expertise.
PMCID: PMC4720449  PMID: 26789840
11.  A Broadly Neutralizing Human Monoclonal Antibody Exhibits In Vivo Efficacy Against Both Human Metapneumovirus and Respiratory Syncytial Virus 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2014;211(2):216-225.
Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a leading cause of acute respiratory tract infection, with significant morbidity and mortality. No licensed vaccines or therapeutic agents exist. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are effective at preventing other infectious diseases and could be used against HMPV in high-risk hosts.
In vitro assays were performed to assess the neutralizing activity and affinity kinetics of human mAb 54G10. A new mouse model was developed to assess prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy in vivo. The epitope of 54G10 was identified by generating mAb-resistant mutants (MARMs).
At low concentrations, 54G10 neutralized all 4 subgroups of HMPV in vitro and had subnanomolar affinity for the fusion protein. DBA/2 mice were permissive for all 4 HMPV subgroups, and 54G10 was effective both prophylactically and therapeutically against HMPV in vivo. Sequencing of HMPV MARMs identified the 54G10 epitope, which was similar to an antigenic site on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). 54G10 also exhibited in vitro neutralizing activity and in vivo protective and therapeutic efficacy against RSV.
Human mAb 54G10 has broad neutralizing activity against HMPV and could have prophylactic and therapeutic utility clinically. The conserved epitope could represent a structural vaccine target for HMPV and RSV.
PMCID: PMC4342691  PMID: 24864121
human metapneumovirus; monoclonal antibody; paramyxovirus; respiratory syncytial virus; DBA/2 mouse
12.  Infection of Monkeys by Simian-human Immunodeficiency Viruses with Transmitted/ founder Clade C HIV-1 Envelopes 
Virology  2014;475:37-45.
Simian-human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIVs) that mirror natural transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses in man are needed for evaluation of HIV-1 vaccine candidates in nonhuman primates. Currently available SHIVs contain HIV-1 env genes from chronically-infected individuals and do not reflect the characteristics of biologically relevant HIV-1 strains that mediate human transmission. We chose to develop clade C SHIVs, as clade C is the major infecting subtype of HIV-1 in the world. We constructed ten clade C SHIVs expressing Env proteins from T/F viruses. Three of these ten clade C SHIVs (SHIV KB9 C3, SHIV KB9 C4 and SHIV KB9 C5) replicated in naïve rhesus monkeys. These three SHIVs are mucosally transmissible and are neutralized by sCD4 and several HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies. However, like natural T/F viruses, they exhibit low Env reactivity and a Tier 2 neutralization sensitivity. Of note, none of the clade C T/F SHIVs elicited detectable autologous neutralizing antibodies in the infected monkeys, even though antibodies that neutralized a heterologous Tier 1 HIV-1 were generated. Challenge with these three new clade C SHIVs will provide biologically relevant tests for vaccine protection in rhesus macaques.
PMCID: PMC4280322  PMID: 25462344
SHIV; HIV-1 Clade C; Transmitted/founder Env; Mucosal transmission
13.  HIV Neutralizing Antibodies Induced by Native-like Envelope Trimers 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2015;349(6244):aac4223.
A challenge for HIV-1 immunogen design is inducing neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against neutralization-resistant (Tier-2) viruses that dominate human transmissions. We show that a soluble recombinant HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimer that adopts a native conformation (BG505 SOSIP.664) induced NAbs potently against the sequence-matched Tier-2 virus in rabbits and similar but weaker responses in macaques. The trimer also consistently induced cross-reactive NAbs against more sensitive (Tier-1) viruses. Tier-2 NAbs recognized conformational epitopes that differed between animals and in some cases overlapped with those recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), whereas Tier-1 responses targeted linear V3 epitopes. A second trimer, B41 SOSIP.664, also induced a strong autologous Tier-2 NAb response in rabbits. Thus, native-like trimers represent a promising starting point for developing HIV-1 vaccines aimed at inducing bNAbs.
PMCID: PMC4498988  PMID: 26089353
15.  Antibody Conjugation Approach Enhances Breadth and Potency of Neutralization of Anti-HIV-1 Antibodies and CD4-IgG 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(9):4985-4993.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies PG9 and PG16 effectively neutralize 70 to 80% of circulating HIV-1 isolates. In this study, the neutralization abilities of PG9 and PG16 were further enhanced by bioconjugation with aplaviroc, a small-molecule inhibitor of virus entry into host cells. A novel air-stable diazonium hexafluorophosphate reagent that allows for rapid, tyrosine-selective functionalization of proteins and antibodies under mild conditions was used to prepare a series of aplaviroc-conjugated antibodies, including b12, 2G12, PG9, PG16, and CD4-IgG. The conjugated antibodies blocked HIV-1 entry through two mechanisms: by binding to the virus itself and by blocking the CCR5 receptor on host cells. Chemical modification did not significantly alter the potency of the parent antibodies against nonresistant HIV-1 strains. Conjugation did not alter the pharmacokinetics of a model IgG in blood. The PG9-aplaviroc conjugate was tested against a panel of 117 HIV-1 strains and was found to neutralize 100% of the viruses. PG9-aplaviroc conjugate IC50s were lower than those of PG9 in neutralization studies of 36 of the 117 HIV-1 strains. These results support this new approach to bispecific antibodies and offer a potential new strategy for combining HIV-1 therapies.
PMCID: PMC3624287  PMID: 23427154
16.  2G12-Expressing B Cell Lines May Aid in HIV Carbohydrate Vaccine Design Strategies 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(4):2234-2241.
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.
PMCID: PMC3571453  PMID: 23221565
17.  Broadly neutralizing antibodies suggest new prospects to counter highly antigenically diverse viruses 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;337(6091):183-186.
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.
PMCID: PMC3600854  PMID: 22798606
18.  Conformational dynamics of single HIV-1 envelope trimers on the surface of native virions 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2014;346(6210):759-763.
The HIV-1 envelope (Env) mediates viral entry into host cells. To enable the direct imaging of conformational dynamics within Env, we introduced fluorophores into variable regions of the glycoprotein gp120 subunit and measured single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer within the context of native trimers on the surface of HIV-1 virions. Our observations revealed unliganded HIV-1 Env to be intrinsically dynamic, transitioning between three distinct prefusion conformations, whose relative occupancies were remodeled by receptor CD4 and antibody binding. The distinct properties of neutralization-sensitive and neutralization-resistant HIV-1 isolates support a dynamics-based mechanism of immune evasion and ligand recognition.
PMCID: PMC4304640  PMID: 25298114
19.  Antibodies to a conformational epitope on gp41 neutralize HIV-1 by destabilizing the Env spike 
Nature Communications  2015;6:8167.
The recent identification of three broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against gp120–gp41 interface epitopes has expanded the targetable surface on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer. By using biochemical, biophysical and computational methods, we map the previously unknown trimer epitopes of two related antibodies, 3BC315 and 3BC176. A cryo-EM reconstruction of a soluble Env trimer bound to 3BC315 Fab at 9.3 Å resolution reveals that the antibody binds between two gp41 protomers, and neutralizes the virus by accelerating trimer decay. In contrast, bnAb 35O22 binding to a partially overlapping quaternary epitope at the gp120–gp41 interface does not induce decay. A conserved gp41-proximal glycan at N88 was also shown to play a role in the binding kinetics of 3BC176 and 3BC315. Finally, our data suggest that the dynamic structure of the Env trimer influences exposure of bnAb epitopes.
The envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer is the only antigenic target for broadly neutralizing antibodies on the surface of the HIV-1 virus. Here the authors show that two related monoclonal antibodies bind between gp41 protomers and neutralize HIV-1 by accelerating Env trimer decay.
PMCID: PMC4586043  PMID: 26404402
20.  A Nonfucosylated Variant of the anti-HIV-1 Monoclonal Antibody b12 Has Enhanced FcγRIIIa-Mediated Antiviral Activity In Vitro but Does Not Improve Protection against Mucosal SHIV Challenge in Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(11):6189-6196.
Eliciting neutralizing antibodies is thought to be a key activity of a vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, a number of studies have suggested that in addition to neutralization, interaction of IgG with Fc gamma receptors (FcγR) may play an important role in antibody-mediated protection. We have previously obtained evidence that the protective activity of the broadly neutralizing human IgG1 anti-HIV monoclonal antibody (MAb) b12 in macaques is diminished in the absence of FcγR binding capacity. To investigate antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) as a contributor to FcγR-associated protection, we developed a nonfucosylated variant of b12 (NFb12). We showed that, compared to fully fucosylated (referred to as wild-type in the text) b12, NFb12 had higher affinity for human and rhesus macaque FcγRIIIa and was more efficient in inhibiting viral replication and more effective in killing HIV-infected cells in an ADCC assay. Despite these more potent in vitro antiviral activities, NFb12 did not enhance protection in vivo against repeated low-dose vaginal challenge in the simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)/macaque model compared to wild-type b12. No difference in protection, viral load, or infection susceptibility was observed between animals given NFb12 and those given fully fucosylated b12, indicating that FcγR-mediated activities distinct from FcγRIIIa-mediated ADCC may be important in the observed protection against SHIV challenge.
PMCID: PMC3372207  PMID: 22457527
21.  Structural evolution of glycan recognition by a family of potent HIV antibodies 
Cell  2014;159(1):69-79.
The HIV envelope glycoprotein (Env) is densely covered with self-glycans that should help shield it from recognition by the human immune system. Here we examine how a particularly potent family of broadly neutralizing antibodies (Abs) has evolved common and distinct structural features to counter the glycan shield and interact with both glycan and protein components of HIV Env. The inferred germline antibody already harbors potential binding pockets for a glycan and a short protein segment. Affinity maturation then leads to divergent evolutionary branches that either focus on a single glycan and protein segment (e.g. Ab PGT124) or engage multiple glycans (e.g. Abs PGT121-123). Furthermore, other surrounding glycans are avoided by selecting an appropriate initial antibody shape that prevents steric hindrance. Such molecular recognition lessons are important for engineering proteins that can recognize or accommodate glycans.
PMCID: PMC4278586  PMID: 25259921
22.  PGV04, an HIV-1 gp120 CD4 Binding Site Antibody, Is Broad and Potent in Neutralization but Does Not Induce Conformational Changes Characteristic of CD4 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(8):4394-4403.
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.
PMCID: PMC3318667  PMID: 22345481
23.  Live SIV vaccine correlate of protection: local antibody production and concentration on the path of virus entry 
We sought design principles for a vaccine to prevent HIV transmission to women by identifying correlates of protection conferred by a highly effective live attenuated SIV vaccine in the rhesus macaque animal model. We show that SIVmac239Δnef vaccination recruits plasma cells and induces ectopic lymphoid follicle formation beneath the mucosal epithelium in the rhesus macaque female reproductive tract. The plasma cells and ectopic follicles produce IgG antibodies reactive with viral envelope glycoprotein gp41 trimers, and these antibodies are concentrated on the path of virus entry by the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) in cervical reserve epithelium and in vaginal epithelium. This local antibody production and delivery system correlated spatially and temporally with the maturation of local protection against high dose pathogenic SIV vaginal challenge. Thus, designing vaccines to elicit production and concentration of antibodies at mucosal frontlines could aid development of an effective vaccine to protect women against HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC4157131  PMID: 25135832
24.  A Native-Like SOSIP.664 Trimer Based on an HIV-1 Subtype B env Gene 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(6):3380-3395.
Recombinant trimeric mimics of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (Env) spike should expose as many epitopes as possible for broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) but few, if any, for nonneutralizing antibodies (non-NAbs). Soluble, cleaved SOSIP.664 gp140 trimers based on the subtype A strain BG505 approach this ideal and are therefore plausible vaccine candidates. Here, we report on the production and in vitro properties of a new SOSIP.664 trimer derived from a subtype B env gene, B41, including how to make this protein in low-serum media without proteolytic damage (clipping) to the V3 region. We also show that nonclipped trimers can be purified successfully via a positive-selection affinity column using the bNAb PGT145, which recognizes a quaternary structure-dependent epitope at the trimer apex. Negative-stain electron microscopy imaging shows that the purified, nonclipped, native-like B41 SOSIP.664 trimers contain two subpopulations, which we propose represent an equilibrium between the fully closed and a more open conformation. The latter is different from the fully open, CD4 receptor-bound conformation and may represent an intermediate state of the trimer. This new subtype B trimer adds to the repertoire of native-like Env proteins that are suitable for immunogenicity and structural studies.
IMPORTANCE The cleaved, trimeric envelope protein complex is the only neutralizing antibody target on the HIV-1 surface. Many vaccine strategies are based on inducing neutralizing antibodies. For HIV-1, one approach involves using recombinant, soluble protein mimics of the native trimer. At present, the only reliable way to make native-like, soluble trimers in practical amounts is via the introduction of specific sequence changes that confer stability on the cleaved form of Env. The resulting proteins are known as SOSIP.664 gp140 trimers, and the current paradigm is based on the BG505 subtype A env gene. Here, we describe the production and characterization of a SOSIP.664 protein derived from a subtype B gene (B41), together with a simple, one-step method to purify native-like trimers by affinity chromatography with a trimer-specific bNAb, PGT145. The resulting trimers will be useful for structural and immunogenicity experiments aimed at devising ways to make an effective HIV-1 vaccine.
PMCID: PMC4337520  PMID: 25589637
25.  Selection of Unadapted, Pathogenic SHIVs Encoding Newly Transmitted HIV-1 Envelope Proteins 
Cell host & microbe  2014;16(3):412-418.
Infection of macaques with chimeric viruses based on SIVMAC but expressing the HIV-1 envelope (Env) glycoproteins (SHIVs) remains the most powerful model for evaluating prevention and therapeutic strategies against AIDS. Unfortunately, only a few SHIVs are currently available. Furthermore, their generation has required extensive adaptation of the HIV-1 Env sequences in macaques so they may not accurately represent HIV-1 Env proteins circulating in humans, potentially limiting their translational utility. We developed a strategy for generating large numbers of SHIV constructs expressing Env proteins from newly transmitted HIV-1 strains. By inoculating macaques with cocktails of multiple SHIV variants, we selected SHIVs that can replicate and cause AIDS-like disease in immunologically intact rhesus macaques without requiring animal-to-animal passage. One of these SHIVs could be transmitted mucosally. We demonstrate the utility of the SHIVs generated by this method for evaluating neutralizing antibody administration as a protection against mucosal SHIV challenge.
PMCID: PMC4268878  PMID: 25211081

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