The membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the HIV-1 glycoprotein gp41 is targeted by the broadly neutralizing antibodies 2F5 and 4E10. To date, no immunization regimen in animals or humans has produced HIV-1 neutralizing MPER-specific antibodies. We immunized llamas with gp41-MPER proteoliposomes and selected a MPER-specific single chain antibody (VHH), 2H10, whose epitope overlaps with that of mAb 2F5. Bi-2H10, a bivalent form of 2H10, which displayed an approximately 20-fold increased affinity compared to the monovalent 2H10, neutralized various sensitive and resistant HIV-1 strains, as well as SHIV strains in TZM-bl cells. X-ray and NMR analyses combined with mutagenesis and modeling revealed that 2H10 recognizes its gp41 epitope in a helical conformation. Notably, tryptophan 100 at the tip of the long CDR3 is not required for gp41 interaction but essential for neutralization. Thus bi-2H10 is an anti-MPER antibody generated by immunization that requires hydrophobic CDR3 determinants in addition to epitope recognition for neutralization similar to the mode of neutralization employed by mAbs 2F5 and 4E10.
Due to the absence of an effective vaccine or cure for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), HIV-1 infections still result in high mortality. Two antibodies, 2F5 and 4E10, previously isolated from HIV-1 infected patients, prevent infections by binding to the MPER of gp41, a part of the virus that is difficult to access and only transiently exposed. Here, we immunized llamas with a gp41-based immunogen and subsequently isolated a small antibody fragment (VHH) that can easily access and recognize the MPER. We showed that a unit of two VHH, named bi-2H10, was indeed capable of preventing HIV-1 from infecting cells. We determined the three dimensional structure of the VHH and mapped its interaction site to an MPER region that overlaps with the 2F5 epitope. The 2H10 VHH displays a membrane binding component important for neutralization that resembles that of 2F5. In conclusion, we have developed an immunogen and a small antibody that may have great potential for development of novel anti-HIV/AIDS vaccines and treatments.
A new method is used to isolate neutralizing antibodies recognizing a new epitope on the cell surface–expressed, but not soluble, HIV-1 spike.
Two to three years after infection, a fraction of HIV-1–infected individuals develop serologic activity that neutralizes most viral isolates. Broadly neutralizing antibodies that recognize the HIV-1 envelope protein have been isolated from these patients by single-cell sorting and by neutralization screens. Here, we report a new method for anti–HIV-1 antibody isolation based on capturing single B cells that recognize the HIV-1 envelope protein expressed on the surface of transfected cells. Although far less efficient than soluble protein baits, the cell-based capture method identified antibodies that bind to a new broadly neutralizing epitope in the vicinity of the V3 loop and the CD4-induced site (CD4i). The new epitope is expressed on the cell surface form of the HIV-1 spike, but not on soluble forms of the same envelope protein. Moreover, the new antibodies complement the neutralization spectrum of potent broadly neutralizing anti-CD4 binding site (CD4bs) antibodies obtained from the same individual. Thus, combinations of potent broadly neutralizing antibodies with complementary activity can account for the breadth and potency of naturally arising anti–HIV-1 serologic activity. Therefore, vaccines aimed at eliciting anti–HIV-1 serologic breadth and potency should not be limited to single epitopes.
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.
The HIV envelope (Env) protein gp120 is protected from antibody recognition by a dense glycan shield. However, several of the recently identified PGT broadly neutralizing antibodies appear to interact directly with the HIV glycan coat. Crystal structures of Fabs PGT 127 and 128 with Man9 at 1.65 and 1.29 Å resolution, respectively, and glycan binding data delineate a specific high mannose binding site. Fab PGT 128 complexed with a fully-glycosylated gp120 outer domain at 3.25 Å reveals that the antibody penetrates the glycan shield and recognizes two conserved glycans as well as a short β-strand segment of the gp120 V3 loop, accounting for its high binding affinity and broad specificify. Furthermore, our data suggest that the high neutralization potency of PGT 127 and 128 IgGs may be mediated by cross-linking Env trimers on the viral surface.
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.
Passive transfer studies using monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies in the macaque model have been valuable for determining conditions for antibody protection against immunodeficiency virus challenge. Most studies have employed hybrid simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge in conjunction with neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies. Passive protection against SIV, particularly the pathogenic prototype virus SIVmac239, has been little studied because of the paucity of neutralizing antibodies to this virus. Here, we show that the antibody-like molecule CD4-IgG2 potently neutralizes SIVmac239 in vitro. When administered by an osmotic pump to maintain concentrations given the short half-life of CD4-IgG2 in macaques, the molecule provided sterilizing immunity/protection against high-dose mucosal viral challenge to a high proportion of animals (5/7 at a 200 mg dose CD4-IgG2 and 3/6 at a 20 mg dose) at serum concentrations below 1.5 µg/ml. The neutralizing titers of such sera were predicted to be very low and indeed sera at a 1∶4 dilution produced no neutralization in a pseudovirus assay. Macaque anti-human CD4 titers did develop weakly at later time points in some animals but were not associated with the level of protection against viral challenge. The results show that, although SIVmac239 is considered a highly pathogenic virus for which vaccine-induced T cell responses in particular have provided limited benefit against high dose challenge, the antibody-like CD4-IgG2 molecule at surprisingly low serum concentration affords sterilizing immunity/protection to a majority of animals.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against highly variable viral pathogens are much sought-after to treat or protect against global circulating viruses. We have probed the neutralizing antibody repertoires of four HIV-infected donors with remarkably broad and potent neutralizing responses and rescued 17 new monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that neutralize broadly across clades. Many of the new MAbs are almost 10-fold more potent than the recently described PG9, PG16, and VRC01 bnMAbs and 100-fold more potent than the original prototype HIV bnMAbs1–3. The MAbs largely recapitulate the neutralization breadth found in the corresponding donor serum and many recognize novel epitopes on envelope (Env) glycoprotein gp120, illuminating new targets for vaccine design. Analysis of neutralization by the full complement of anti-HIV bnMAbs now available reveals that certain combinations of antibodies provide significantly more favorable coverage of the enormous diversity of global circulating viruses than others and these combinations might be sought in active or passive immunization regimes. Overall, the isolation of multiple HIV bnMAbs, from several donors, that, in aggregate, provide broad coverage at low concentrations is a highly positive indicator for the eventual design of an effective antibody-based HIV vaccine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The membrane-proximal external region (MPER) of HIV-1, located at the C terminus of the gp41 ectodomain, is conserved and crucial for viral fusion. Three broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (bnMAbs), 2F5, 4E10, and Z13e1, are directed against linear epitopes mapped to the MPER, making this conserved region an important potential vaccine target. However, no MPER antibodies have been definitively shown to provide protection against HIV challenge. Here, we show that both MAbs 2F5 and 4E10 can provide complete protection against mucosal simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge in macaques. MAb 2F5 or 4E10 was administered intravenously at 50 mg/kg to groups of six male Indian rhesus macaques 1 day prior to and again 1 day following intrarectal challenge with SHIVBa-L. In both groups, five out of six animals showed complete protection and sterilizing immunity, while for one animal in each group a low level of viral replication following challenge could not be ruled out. The study confirms the protective potential of 2F5 and 4E10 and supports emphasis on HIV immunogen design based on the MPER region of gp41.
The development of a rapid and efficient system to identify human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals with broad and potent HIV-1-specific neutralizing antibody responses is an important step toward the discovery of critical neutralization targets for rational AIDS vaccine design. In this study, samples from HIV-1-infected volunteers from diverse epidemiological regions were screened for neutralization responses using pseudovirus panels composed of clades A, B, C, and D and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). Initially, 463 serum and plasma samples from Australia, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Zambia were screened to explore neutralization patterns and selection ranking algorithms. Samples were identified that neutralized representative isolates from at least four clade/CRF groups with titers above prespecified thresholds and ranked based on a weighted average of their log-transformed neutralization titers. Linear regression methods selected a five-pseudovirus subset, representing clades A, B, and C and one CRF01_AE, that could identify top-ranking samples with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) neutralization titers of ≥100 to multiple isolates within at least four clade groups. This reduced panel was then used to screen 1,234 new samples from the Ivory Coast, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States, and 1% were identified as elite neutralizers. Elite activity is defined as the ability to neutralize, on average, more than one pseudovirus at an IC50 titer of 300 within a clade group and across at least four clade groups. These elite neutralizers provide promising starting material for the isolation of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to assist in HIV-1 vaccine design.
Developing an immunogen that elicits broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) is an elusive but important goal of HIV vaccine research, especially after the recent failure of the leading T cell based HIV vaccine in human efficacy trials. Even if such an immunogen can be developed, most animal model studies indicate that high serum neutralizing concentrations of bNAbs are required to provide significant benefit in typical protection experiments. One possible exception is provided by the anti-glycan bNAb 2G12, which has been reported to protect macaques against CXCR4-using SHIV challenge at relatively low serum neutralizing titers. Here, we investigated the ability of 2G12 administered intravenously (i.v.) to protect against vaginal challenge of rhesus macaques with the CCR5-using SHIVSF162P3. The results show that, at 2G12 serum neutralizing titers of the order of 1∶1 (IC90), 3/5 antibody-treated animals were protected with sterilizing immunity, i.e. no detectable virus replication following challenge; one animal showed a delayed and lowered primary viremia and the other animal showed a course of infection similar to 4 control animals. This result contrasts strongly with the typically high titers observed for protection by other neutralizing antibodies, including the bNAb b12. We compared b12 and 2G12 for characteristics that might explain the differences in protective ability relative to neutralizing activity. We found no evidence to suggest that 2G12 transudation to the vaginal surface was significantly superior to b12. We also observed that the ability of 2G12 to inhibit virus replication in target cells through antibody-mediated effector cell activity in vitro was equivalent or inferior to b12. The results raise the possibility that some epitopes on HIV may be better vaccine targets than others and support targeting the glycan shield of the envelope.
An effective HIV vaccine should elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies, i.e. antibodies that neutralize a wide spectrum of different HIVs in vitro. A number of human monoclonal antibodies have been isolated with broad neutralization and shown to protect macaques against vaginal HIV challenge. Protection is generally correlated with neutralization and requires relatively high antibody concentrations that may be difficult to achieve by vaccination. Here, we show that one monoclonal antibody (2G12) is unusually potent in protection relative to its neutralizing ability as hinted at by earlier data. Further studies eliminate an unusual ability of 2G12 to be transported to the vagina (site of infection) as a possible explanation for our observations. Although the precise mechanism is unclear, the studies have important implications for HIV vaccine design in general by suggesting that some vaccine targets on HIV may be better than others and, specifically, by suggesting that the sugar coat of HIV may be a particularly rewarding target if appropriate immunogens can be designed.
High levels of infused anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) can completely protect macaque monkeys against mucosal chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) infection. Antibody levels below the protective threshold do not prevent infection but can substantially reduce plasma viremia. To assess if HIV-1/SIV-specific cellular immunity could combine with antibodies to produce sterile protection, we studied the effect of a suboptimal infusion of anti-HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies in macaques with active cellular immunity induced by interleukin-2 (IL-2)-adjuvanted DNA immunization. Twenty female macaques were divided into four groups: (i) DNA immunization plus irrelevant antibody, (ii) DNA immunization plus infusion of neutralizing MAbs 2F5 and 2G12, (iii) sham DNA plus 2F5 and 2G12, and (iv) sham DNA plus irrelevant antibody. DNA-immunized monkeys developed CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses as measured by epitope-specific tetramer staining and by pooled peptide ELISPOT assays for gamma interferon-secreting cells. After vaginal challenge, DNA-immunized animals that received irrelevant antibody became SHIV infected but displayed lower plasma viremia than control animals. Complete protection against SHIV challenge occurred in three animals that received sham DNA plus MAbs 2F5 and 2G12 and in two animals that received the DNA vaccine plus MAbs 2F5 and 2G12. Thus, although DNA immunization produced robust HIV-specific T-cell responses, we were unable to demonstrate that these responses contributed to the sterile protection mediated by passive infusion of neutralizing antibodies. These data suggest that although effector T cells can limit viral replication, they are not able to assist humoral immunity to prevent the establishment of initial infection.
Anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) antibodies whose binding to gp120 is enhanced by CD4 binding (CD4i antibodies) are generally considered nonneutralizing for primary HIV-1 isolates. However, a novel CD4i-specific Fab fragment, X5, has recently been found to neutralize a wide range of primary isolates. To investigate the precise nature of the extraordinary neutralizing ability of Fab X5, we evaluated the abilities of different forms (immunoglobulin G [IgG], Fab, and single-chain Fv) of X5 and other CD4i monoclonal antibodies to neutralize a range of primary HIV-1 isolates. Our results show that, for a number of isolates, the size of the neutralizing agent is inversely correlated with its ability to neutralize. Thus, the poor ability of CD4i-specific antibodies to neutralize primary isolates is due, at least in part, to steric factors that limit antibody access to the gp120 epitopes. Studies of temperature-regulated neutralization or fusion-arrested intermediates suggest that the steric effects are important in limiting the binding of IgG to the viral envelope glycoproteins after HIV-1 has engaged CD4 on the target cell membrane. The results identify hurdles in using CD4i epitopes as targets for antibody-mediated neutralization in vaccine design but also indicate that the CD4i regions could be efficiently targeted by small molecule entry inhibitors.
Alanine scanning mutagenesis was performed on monomeric gp120 of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 to systematically identify residues important for gp120 recognition by neutralizing and nonneutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to the CD4 binding site (CD4bs). Substitutions that affected the binding of broadly neutralizing antibody b12 were compared to substitutions that affected the binding of CD4 and of two nonneutralizing anti-CD4bs antibodies (b3 and b6) with affinities for monomeric gp120 comparable to that of b12. Not surprisingly, the sensitivities to a number of amino acid changes were similar for the MAbs and for CD4. However, in contrast to what was seen for the MAbs, no enhancing mutations were observed for CD4, suggesting that the virus has evolved toward an optimal gp120-CD4 interaction. Although the epitope maps of the MAbs overlapped, a number of key differences between b12 and the other two antibodies were observed. These differences may explain why b12, in contrast to nonneutralizing antibodies, is able to interact not only with monomeric gp120 but also with functional oligomeric gp120 at the virion surface. Neutralization assays performed with pseudovirions bearing envelopes from a selection of alanine mutants mostly showed a reasonable correlation between the effects of the mutations on b12 binding to monomeric gp120 and neutralization efficacy. However, some mutations produced an effect on b12 neutralization counter to that predicted from gp120 binding data. It appears that these mutations have different effects on the b12 epitope on monomeric gp120 and functional oligomeric gp120. To determine whether monomeric gp120 can be engineered to preferentially bind MAb b12, recombinant gp120s were generated containing combinations of alanine substitutions shown to uniquely enhance b12 binding. Whereas b12 binding was maintained or increased, binding by five nonneutralizing anti-CD4bs MAbs (b3, b6, F105, 15e, and F91) was reduced or completely abolished. These reengineered gp120s are prospective immunogens that may prove capable of eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies.
Virion capture assays, in which immobilized antibodies (Abs) capture virus particles, have been used to suggest that nonneutralizing Abs bind effectively to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) primary viruses. Here, we show that virion capture assays, under conditions commonly reported in the literature, give a poor indication of epitope expression on the surface of infectious primary HIV-1. First, estimation of primary HIV-1 capture by p24 measurements shows a very poor correlation with an estimation based on infectivity measurements. Second, virion capture appears to require relatively low Ab affinity for the virion, as shown by the ability of a monoclonal Ab to capture a wild-type and a neutralization escape variant virus equally well. Nevertheless, in a more interpretable competition format, it is shown that nonneutralizing anti-CD4 binding site (CD4bs) Abs compete with a neutralizing anti-CD4bs Ab (b12) for virus capture, suggesting that the nonneutralizing anti-CD4bs Abs are able to bind to the envelope species that is involved in virion capture in these experiments. However, the nonneutralizing anti-CD4bs Abs do not inhibit neutralization by b12 even at considerable excess. This suggests that the nonneutralizing Abs are unable to bind effectively to the envelope species required for virus infectivity. The results were obtained for three different primary virus envelopes. The explanation that we favor is that infectious HIV-1 primary virions can express two forms of gp120, an accessible nonfunctional form and a functional form with limited access. Binding to the nonfunctional form, which needs only to be present at relatively low density on the virion, permits capture but does not lead to neutralization. The expression of a nonfunctional but accessible form of gp120 on virions may contribute to the general failure of HIV-1 infection to elicit cross-neutralizing Abs and may represent a significant problem for vaccines based on viruses or virus-like particles.
Substantial evidence argues that human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-specific CD4+ T cells play an important role in the control of HIV-1 replication in infected individuals. Moreover, it is increasingly clear that an HIV vaccine should elicit potent cytotoxic lymphocyte and antibody responses that will likely require an efficient CD4+ T-cell response. Therefore, understanding and characterizing HIV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses is an important aim. Here we describe the generation of HIV-1 Gag- and Gag peptide-specific CD4+ T-cell clones from an HIV-1-seronegative donor by in vitro immunization with HIV-1 Gag peptides. The Gag peptides were able to induce a strong CD4+ T-cell immune response in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the HIV-1-seronegative donor. Six Gag peptide-specific CD4+ T-cell clones were isolated and their epitopes were mapped. The region of p24 between amino acids 201 and 300 of Gag was defined as the immunodominant region of Gag. A new T helper epitope in the p6 protein of Gag was identified. Two clones were shown to recognize Gag peptides and processed Gag protein, while the other four clones reacted only to Gag peptides under the experimental conditions used. Functional analysis of the clones indicated that both Th1 and Th2 types of CD4+ T cells were obtained. One clone showed direct antigen-specific cytotoxic activity. These clones represent a valuable tool for understanding the cellular immune response to HIV-1, and the study provides new insights into the HIV-1-specific CD4+ T-cell response and the induction of an anti-Gag and -Gag peptide cellular primary immune response in vitro.
Several reports have described the existence of synergy between neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Synergy between human MAbs b12, 2G12, 2F5, and 4E10 in neutralization of primary isolates is of particular interest. Neutralization synergy of these MAbs, however, has not been studied extensively, and the mechanism of synergy remains unclear. We investigated neutralization synergy among this human antibody set by using the classical approach of titrating antibodies mixed at a fixed ratio as well as by an alternative, variable ratio approach in which the neutralization curve of one MAb is assessed in the presence and absence of a fixed, weakly neutralizing concentration of a second antibody. The advantage of this second approach is that it does not require mathematical analysis to establish synergy. No neutralization enhancement of any of the MAb combinations tested was detected for the T-cell-line-adapted molecular HIV-1 clone HxB2 using both assay formats. Studies of primary isolates (89.6, SF162, and JR-CSF) showed neutralization synergy which was relatively weak, with a maximum of two- to fourfold enhancement between antibody pairs, thereby increasing neutralization titers about 10-fold in triple and quadruple antibody combinations. Analysis of b12 and 2G12 binding to oligomeric envelope glycoprotein by using flow cytometry failed to demonstrate cooperativity in binding between these two antibodies. The mechanism by which these antibodies synergize is, therefore, not yet understood. The results lend some support to the notion that an HIV-1 vaccine that elicits moderate neutralizing antibodies to multiple epitopes may be more effective than hereto supposed, although considerable caution in extrapolating to a vaccine situation is required.
The natural ligands for the CCR5 chemokine receptor, macrophage inflammatory protein 1α (MIP-1α), MIP-1β, and RANTES (regulated on T-cell activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted), are known to inhibit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) entry, and N-terminally modified RANTES analogues are more potent than native RANTES in blocking infection. However, potent CCR5 blocking agents may select for HIV-1 variants that use alternative coreceptors at less than fully inhibitory concentrations. In this study, two N-terminal chemical modifications of RANTES produced by total synthesis, aminooxypentane (AOP)-RANTES[2-68] and N-nonanoyl (NNY)-RANTES[2-68], were tested for their ability to prevent HIV-1 infection and to select for coreceptor switch variants in the human peripheral blood lymphocyte-SCID mouse model. Mice were infected with a CCR5-using HIV-1 isolate that requires only one or two amino acid substitutions to use CXCR4 as a coreceptor. Even though it achieved lower circulating concentrations than AOP-RANTES (75 to 96 pM as opposed to 460 pM under our experimental conditions), NNY-RANTES was more effective in preventing HIV-1 infection. However, in a subset of treated mice, these levels of NNY-RANTES rapidly selected viruses with mutations in the V3 loop of envelope that altered coreceptor usage. These results reinforce the case for using agents that block all significant HIV-1 coreceptors for effective therapy.
A number of antibodies generated during human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection have been cloned by the phage library approach. Antibodies reactive with an immunodominant epitope on the F glycoprotein of this virus have a high affinity for affinity-purified F antigen. These antibodies, however, have a much lower affinity for mature F glycoprotein on the surface of infected cells and are nonneutralizing. In contrast, a potent neutralizing antibody has a high affinity for mature F protein but a much lower affinity for purified F protein or F protein in viral lysates. The data indicate that at least two F protein immunogens are produced during natural RSV infection: immature F, found in viral lysates, and mature F, found on infected cells or virions. Binding studies with polyclonal human immunoglobulin G suggest that the antibody responses to the two immunogens are of similar magnitudes. Competitive binding studies suggest that overlap between the responses is relatively limited. A mature envelope with an antigenic configuration different from that of the immature envelope has an evolutionary advantage in that the infecting virus is less subject to neutralization by the humoral response to the immature envelope that inevitably arises following lysis of infected cells. Subunit vaccines may be at a disadvantage because they most often resemble immature envelope molecules and ignore this aspect of viral evasion.