A subunit vaccine, RBD-S, is under development to prevent severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused by SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which is classified by the US NIH as a category C pathogen. This vaccine is comprised of a recombinant receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV spike (S) protein and formulated on alum, together with a synthetic glucopyranosyl lipid A. The vaccine would induce neutralizing antibodies without causing Th2-type immunopathology. Vaccine development is being led by the nonprofit product development partnership; Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development in collaboration with two academic partners (the New York Blood Center and University of Texas Medical Branch); an industrial partner (Immune Design Corporation); and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. A roadmap for the product development of the RBD-S SARS vaccine is outlined with a goal to manufacture the vaccine for clinical testing within the next 5 years.
receptor-binding domain; recombinant vaccine; SARS; severe acute respiratory syndrome; spike (S) protein
Evidence points to the emergence of a novel human coronavirus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which causes a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like disease. In response, the development of effective vaccines and therapeutics remains a clinical priority. To accomplish this, it is necessary to evaluate neutralizing antibodies and screen for MERS-CoV entry inhibitors.
In this study, we produced a pseudovirus bearing the full-length spike (S) protein of MERS-CoV in the Env-defective, luciferase-expressing HIV-1 backbone. We then established a pseudovirus-based inhibition assay to detect neutralizing antibodies and anti-MERS-CoV entry inhibitors.
Our results demonstrated that the generated MERS-CoV pseudovirus allows for single-cycle infection of a variety of cells expressing dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4), the confirmed receptor for MERS-CoV. Consistent with the results from a live MERS-CoV-based inhibition assay, the antisera of mice vaccinated with a recombinant protein containing receptor-binding domain (RBD, residues 377–662) of MERS-CoV S fused with Fc of human IgG exhibited neutralizing antibody response against infection of MERS-CoV pseudovirus. Furthermore, one small molecule HIV entry inhibitor targeting gp41 (ADS-J1) and the 3-hydroxyphthalic anhydride-modified human serum albumin (HP-HSA) could significantly inhibit MERS-CoV pseudovirus infection.
Taken together, the established MERS-CoV inhibition assay is a safe and convenient pseudovirus-based alternative to BSL-3 live-virus restrictions and can be used to rapidly screen MERS-CoV entry inhibitors, as well as evaluate vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies against the highly pathogenic MERS-CoV.
Novel human coronavirus; MERS-CoV; Spike protein; Pseudovirus; Neutralizing antibodies; Antiviral therapeutics
The unabated circulation of the highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus/H5N1 continues to be a serious threat to public health worldwide. Because of the high frequency of naturally occurring mutations, the emergence of H5N1 variants with high virulence has raised great concerns about the potential transmissibility of the virus in humans. Recent studies have shown that laboratory-mutated or reassortant H5N1 viruses could be efficiently transmitted among mammals, particularly ferrets, the best animal model for humans. Thus, it is critical to establish effective strategies to combat future H5N1 pandemics. In this study, we identified a broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb), HA-7, that potently neutralized all tested strains of H5N1 covering clades 0, 1, 2.2, 2.3.4, and 184.108.40.206 and completely protected mice against lethal challenges of H5N1 viruses from clades 1 and 2.3.4. HA-7 specifically targeted the globular head of the H5N1 virus hemagglutinin (HA). Using electron microscopy technology with three-dimensional reconstruction (3D-EM), we discovered that HA-7 bound to a novel and highly conserved conformational epitope that was centered on residues 81 to 83 and 117 to 122 of HA1 (H5 numbering). We further demonstrated that HA-7 inhibited viral entry during postattachment events but not at the receptor-binding step, which is fully consistent with the 3D-EM result. Taken together, we propose that HA-7 could be humanized as an effective passive immunotherapeutic agent for antiviral stockpiling for future influenza pandemics caused by emerging unpredictable H5N1 strains. Our study also provides a sound foundation for the rational design of vaccines capable of inducing broad-spectrum immunity against H5N1.
A decade ago, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV) caused a global pandemic with a mortality rate of 10%. Reports of recent outbreaks of a SARS-like disease caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have raised serious concerns of a possible reemergence of SARS-CoV, either by laboratory escape or the presence of a natural reservoir. Therefore, the development of effective and safe SARS vaccines is still needed. Based on our previous studies, we believe that the receptor-binding domain (RBD) in the S1 subunit of the SARS-CoV spike (S) protein is the most important target for developing a SARS vaccine. In particular, RBD of S protein contains the critical neutralizing domain (CND), which is able to induce highly potent neutralizing antibody response and cross-protection against divergent SARS-CoV strains. Furthermore, a RBD-based subunit vaccine is expected to be safer than other vaccines that may induce Th2-type immunopathology. This review will discuss key advances in the development of RBD-based SARS vaccines and the possibility of using a similar strategy to develop vaccines against MERS-CoV.
Virus; severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV); receptor-binding domain (RBD); spike protein; vaccine
We have previously reported that Porphyromonas gingivalis infection of gingival epithelial cells (GEC) requires an exogenous danger signal such as ATP to activate an inflammasome and caspase-1, thereby inducing secretion of interleukin (IL)-1β. Stimulation with extracellular ATP also stimulates production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in GEC. However, the mechanism by which ROS is generated in response to ATP, and the role that different purinergic receptors may play in inflammasome activation, is still unclear. In this study, we revealed that the purinergic receptor P2X4 is assembled with the receptor P2X7 and its associated pore, pannexin-1. ATP induces ROS production through a complex consisting of the P2X4, P2X7, and pannexin-1. P2X7−mediated ROS production can activate the NLRP3 inflammasome and caspase-1. Furthermore, separate depletion or inhibition of P2X4, P2X7, or pannexin-1 complex blocks IL-1β secretion in P. gingivalis-infected GEC following ATP treatment. However, activation via P2X4 alone induces ROS generation but not inflammasome activation. These results suggest that ROS is generated through stimulation of a P2X4/P2X7/pannexin-1 complex, and reveal an unexpected role for P2X4, which acts as a positive regulator of inflammasome activation during microbial infection.
The sterile alpha motif (SAM) and HD domain-containing protein-1 (SAMHD1) inhibits the infection of resting CD4+ T cells and myeloid cells by human and related simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV). Vpx inactivates SAMHD1 by promoting its proteasome-dependent degradation through an interaction with CRL4 (DCAF1) E3 ubiquitin ligase and the C-terminal region of SAMHD1. However, the determinants in SAMHD1 that are required for Vpx-mediated degradation have not been well characterized. SAMHD1 contains a classical nuclear localization signal (NLS), and NLS point mutants are cytoplasmic and resistant to Vpx-mediated degradation. Here, we demonstrate that NLS-mutant SAMHD1 K11A can be rescued by wild-type SAMHD1, restoring its nuclear localization; consequently, SAMHD1 K11A became sensitive to Vpx-mediated degradation in the presence of wild-type SAMHD1. Surprisingly, deletion of N-terminal regions of SAMHD1, including the classical NLS, generated mutant SAMHD1 proteins that were again sensitive to Vpx-mediated degradation. Unlike SAMHD1 K11A, these deletion mutants could be detected in the nucleus. Interestingly, NLS-defective SAMHD1 could still bind to karyopherin-β1 and other nuclear proteins. We also determined that the linker region between the SAM and HD domain and the HD domain itself is important for Vpx-mediated degradation but not Vpx interaction. Thus, SAMHD1 contains an additional nuclear targeting mechanism in addition to the classical NLS. Our data indicate that multiple regions in SAMHD1 are critical for Vpx-mediated nuclear degradation and that association with Vpx is not sufficient for Vpx-mediated degradation of SAMHD1. Since the linker region and HD domain may be involved in SAMHD1 multimerization, our results suggest that SAMHD1 multimerization may be required for Vpx-mediation degradation.
Despite almost 30 years of research, no effective vaccine has yet been developed against HIV-1. Probably such a vaccine would need to induce both an effective T cell and antibody response. Any vaccine component focused on inducing humoral immunity requires the HIV-1 envelope (Env) glycoprotein complex as it is the only viral protein exposed on the virion surface. HIV-1 has evolved several mechanisms to evade broadly reactive neutralizing antibodies. One such a mechanism involves variable loop domains, which are highly flexible structures that shield the underlying conserved epitopes. We hypothesized that removal of such loops would increase the exposure and immunogenicity of these conserved regions. Env variable loop deletion however often leads to protein misfolding and aggregation because hydrophobic patches becoming solvent accessible. We have therefore previously used virus evolution to acquire functional Env proteins lacking the V1V2 loop. We then expressed them in soluble (uncleaved) gp140 forms. Three mutants were found to perform optimally in terms of protein expression, stability, trimerization and folding. In this study, we characterized the immune responses to these antigens in rabbits. The V1V2 deletion mutant ΔV1V2.9.VK induced a prominent response directed to epitopes that are not fully available on the other Env proteins tested but that effectively bound and neutralized the ΔV1V2 Env virus. This Env variant also induced more efficient neutralization of the tier 1 virus SF162. The immune refocusing effect was lost after booster immunization with a full-length gp140 protein with intact V1V2 loops. Collectively, this result suggests that deletion of variable domains could alter the specificity of the humoral immune response, but did not result in broad neutralization of neutralization-resistant virus isolates.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) that target the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env) can prevent virus acquisition, but several Env properties limit its ability to induce an antibody response that is of sufficient quantity and quality. The immunogenicity of Env can be increased by fusion to co-stimulatory molecules and here we describe novel soluble Env trimers with embedded interleukin-4 (IL-4) or interleukin-21 (IL-21) domains, designed to activate B cells that recognize Env. In particular, the chimeric EnvIL-21 molecule activated B cells efficiently and induced the differentiation of antibody secreting plasmablast-like cells. We studied whether we could increase the activity of the embedded IL-21 by designing a chimeric IL-21/IL-4 (ChimIL-21/4) molecule and by introducing amino acid substitutions in the receptor binding domain of IL-21 that were predicted to enhance its binding. In addition, we incorporated IL-21 into a cleavable Env trimer and found that insertion of IL-21 did not impair Env cleavage, while Env cleavage did not impair IL-21 activity. These studies should guide the further design of chimeric proteins and EnvIL-21 may prove useful in improving antibody responses against HIV-1.
The outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases caused by pathogens such as SARS coronavirus, H5N1, H1N1, and recently H7N9 influenza viruses, have been associated with significant mortality and morbidity in humans. Neutralizing antibodies from individuals who have recovered from an infection confer therapeutic protection to others infected with the same pathogen. However, survivors may not always be available for providing plasma or for the cloning of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).
The genome and the immunoglobulin genes in rhesus macaques and humans are highly homologous; therefore, we investigated whether neutralizing mAbs that are highly homologous to those of humans (human-like) could be generated. Using the H5N1 influenza virus as a model, we first immunized rhesus macaques with recombinant adenoviruses carrying a synthetic gene encoding hemagglutinin (HA). Following screening an antibody phage display library derived from the B cells of immunized monkeys, we cloned selected macaque immunoglobulin heavy chain and light chain variable regions into the human IgG constant region, which generated human-macaque chimeric mAbs exhibiting over 97% homology to human antibodies. Selected mAbs demonstrated potent neutralizing activities against three clades (0, 1, 2) of the H5N1 influenza viruses. The in vivo protection experiments demonstrated that the mAbs effectively protected the mice even when administered up to 3 days after infection with H5N1 influenza virus. In particular, mAb 4E6 demonstrated sub-picomolar binding affinity to HA and superior in vivo protection efficacy without the loss of body weight and obvious lung damage. The analysis of the 4E6 escape mutants demonstrated that the 4E6 antibody bound to a conserved epitope region containing two amino acids on the globular head of HA.
Our study demonstrated the generation of neutralizing mAbs for potential application in humans in urgent preparedness against outbreaks of new influenza infections or other virulent infectious diseases.
M36 is the first member of a novel class of potent HIV-1 entry inhibitors based on human engineered antibody domains (eAds). It exhibits broad inhibitory activity suggesting that its CD4-induced epitope is highly conserved. Here, we describe fine mapping of its epitope by using several approaches. First, a panel of mimotopes was affinity-selected from a random peptide library and potential m36-binding residues were computationally predicted. Second, homology modeling of m36 and molecular docking of m36 onto gp120 revealed potentially important residues in gp120-m36 interactions. Third, the predicted contact residues were verified by site-directed mutagenesis. Taken together, m36 epitope comprising three discontinuous sites including six key gp120 residues (Site C1: Thr123 and Pro124; Site C3: Glu370 and Ile371; Site C4: Met426 and Trp427) were identified. In the 3D structure of gp120, the sites C1 and C4 are located in the bridging sheet and the site C3 is within the β15-α3 excursion, which play essential roles for the receptor- and coreceptor-binding and are major targets of neutralizing antibodies. Based on these results we propose a precise localization of the m36 epitope and suggest a mechanism of its broad inhibitory activity which could help in the development of novel HIV-1 therapeutics based on eAds.
The HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) gp41 plays a crucial role in the viral fusion process. The peptides derived from the C-terminal heptad repeat (CHR) of gp41 are potent HIV fusion inhibitors. However, the activity of these anti-HIV-1 peptides in vivo may be attenuated by their induction of anti-gp41 antibodies. Thus, it is essential to identify antiviral peptides or proteins with low, or no, immunogenicity to humans. Here, we found that the C-terminal fragment (aa 462–521) of the human POB1 (the partner of RalBP1), designated C60, is an HIV-1 fusion inhibitor. It bound to N36, the peptide derived from the N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) of gp41, and to the six-helix bundle (6-HB) formed by N36 and C34, a CHR-peptide, but it did not bind to C34. Unlike the CHR-peptides, C60 did not block gp41 6-HB formation. Rather, results suggest that C60 inhibits HIV-1 fusion by binding to the 6-HB, in particular, the residues in the gp41 NHR domain that are exposed on the surface of 6-HB. Since 6-HB plays a crucial role in the late stage of fusion between the viral envelope and endosomal membrane during the endocytic process of HIV-1, C60 may serve as a host restriction factor to suppress HIV-1 entry into CD4+ T lymphocytes. Taken together, it can be concluded from these results that C60 can be used as a lead for the development of anti-HIV-1 therapeutics or microbicides for the treatment and prevention of HIV-1 infection, as well as a molecular probe to study the fusogenic mechanism of HIV-1.
The use of drug combinations has revolutionized the treatment of HIV but there is no equivalent combination product that exists for prevention, particularly for topical HIV prevention. Strategies to combine chemically incompatible agents may facilitate the discovery of unique drug-drug activities, particularly unexplored combination drug synergy. We fabricated two types of nanoparticles, each loaded with a single antiretroviral (ARV) that acts on a specific step of the viral replication cycle. Here we show unique combination drug activities mediated by our polymeric delivery systems when combined with free tenofovir (TFV).
Biodegradable poly(lactide-co-glycolide) nanoparticles loaded with efavirenz (NP-EFV) or saquinavir (NP-SQV) were individually prepared by emulsion or nanoprecipitation techniques. Nanoparticles had reproducible size (d ∼200 nm) and zeta potential (-25 mV). The drug loading of the nanoparticles was approximately 7% (w/w). NP-EFV and NP-SQV were nontoxic to TZM-bl cells and ectocervical explants. Both NP-EFV and NP-SQV exhibited potent protection against HIV-1 BaL infection in vitro. The HIV inhibitory effect of nanoparticle formulated ARVs showed up to a 50-fold reduction in the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) compared to free drug. To quantify the activity arising from delivery of drug combinations, we calculated combination indices (CI) according to the median-effect principle. NP-EFV combined with free TFV demonstrated strong synergistic effects (CI50 = 0.07) at a 1∶50 ratio of IC50 values and additive effects (CI50 = 1.05) at a 1∶1 ratio of IC50 values. TFV combined with NP-SQV at a 1∶1 ratio of IC50 values also showed strong synergy (CI50 = 0.07).
ARVs with different physicochemical properties can be encapsulated individually into nanoparticles to potently inhibit HIV. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that combining TFV with either NP-EFV or NP-SQV results in pronounced combination drug effects, and emphasize the potential of nanoparticles for the realization of unique drug-drug activities.
The HIV Dementia Scale (HDS) and International HIV Dementia Scale (IHDS) are brief tools that have been developed to screen for and aid diagnosis of HIV-associated dementia (HAD). They are increasingly being used in clinical practice for minor neurocognitive disorder (MND) as well as HAD, despite uncertainty about their accuracy.
Methods and Findings
A systematic review of the accuracy of the HDS and IHDS was conducted. Studies were assessed on Standards for Reporting Diagnostic Accuracy criteria. Pooled sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios (LR) and diagnostic odds ratios (DOR) were calculated for each scale as a test for HAD or MND. We retrieved 15 studies of the HDS, 10 of the IHDS, and 1 of both scales. Thirteen studies of the HDS were conducted in North America, and 7 of the IHDS studies were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. Estimates of accuracy were highly heterogeneous between studies for the HDS but less so for the IHDS. Pooled DOR for the HDS was 7.52 (95% confidence interval 3.75–15.11), sensitivity and specificity for HAD were estimated at 68.1% and 77.9%, and sensitivity and specificity for MND were estimated at 42.0% and 91.2%. Pooled DOR for the IHDS was 3.49 (2.12–5.73), sensitivity and specificity for HAD were 74.3% and 54.7%, and sensitivity and specificity for MND were 64.3% and 66.0%.
Both scales were low in accuracy. The literature is limited by the lack of a gold standard, and variation in estimates of accuracy is likely to be due to differences in reference standard. There is a lack of studies comparing both scales, and they have been studied in different populations, but the IHDS may be less specific than the HDS. These rapid tests are not recommended for diagnostic use, and further research is required to inform their use in asymptomatic screening.
Polyanionic candidate microbicides, including cellulose sulfate, carrageenan, PRO 2000, were proven ineffective in preventing HIV-1 transmission and even cellulose sulfate showed increased risk of HIV acquisition in the Phase III efficacy trials. Semen plays critical roles in HIV-1 sexual transmission. Specifically, amyloid fibrils formed by fragments of prostatic acidic phosphatase (PAP) in semen termed semen-derived enhancer of virus infection (SEVI) could drastically enhance HIV-1 infection. Here we investigated the interaction between polyanions and PAP248-286, a prototype peptide of SEVI, to understand the possible cause of polyanionic candidate microbicides to fail in clinical trials. We found anionic polymers could efficiently promote SEVI fibril formation, most likely mediated by the natural electrostatic interaction between polyanions and PAP248-286, as revealed by acid native PAGE and Western blot. The overall anti-HIV-1 activity of polyanions in the presence or absence of PAP248-286 or semen was evaluated. In the viral infection assay, the supernatants of polyanions/PAP248-286 or polyanions/semen mixtures containing the free, unbound polyanionic molecules showed a general reduction in antiviral efficacy, while the pellets containing amyloid fibrils formed by the polyanion-bound PAP248-286 showed aggravated enhancement of viral infection. Collectively, from the point of drug-host protein interaction, our study revealed that polyanions facilitate SEVI fibril formation to promote HIV-1 infection, thus highlighting a molecular mechanism underlying the failure of polyanions in clinical trials and the importance of drug-semen interaction in evaluating the anti-HIV-1 efficacy of candidate microbicides.
A major goal of efforts to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV-1 infection is induction of broadly cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies (bcnAb). In previous studies we have demonstrated induction of neutralizing antibodies that did cross-react among multiple primary and laboratory strains of HIV-1, but neutralized with limited potency. In the present study we tested the hypothesis that immunization with multiple HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Envs) would result in a more potent and cross-reactive neutralizing response. One Env, CM243(N610Q), was selected on the basis of studies of the effects of single and multiple mutations of the four gp41 glycosylation sites. The other two Envs included R2 (subtype B) and 14/00/4 (subtype F), both of which were obtained from donors with bcnAb. Rhesus monkeys were immunized using a prime boost regimen as in previous studies. Individual groups of monkeys were immunized with either one of the three Envs or all three. The single N610Q and N615Q mutations of CM243 Env did not disrupt protein secretion, processing into, or reactivity with mAbs, unlike other single or multiple deglycosylation mutations. In rabbit studies the N610Q mutation alone or in combination was associated with an enhanced neutralizing response against homologous and heterologous subtype E viruses. In the subsequent monkey study the response induced by the R2 Env regimen was equivalent to the trivalent regimen and superior to the other monovalent regimens against the virus panel used for testing. The 14/00/4 Env induced responses superior to CM243(N610Q). The results indicate that elimination of the glycosylation site near the gp41 loop results in enhanced immunogenicity, but that immunization of monkeys with these three distinct Envs was not more immunogenic than with one.
China’s new leadership has been on board recently and they will face a great challenge, how to control the spread of HIVAIDS in China. Recent studies have shown that sexual transmission has become the main route of HIV spread in China. Therefore, more strong and effective measures have to be taken to protect people from HIV infection via sexual transmission in order to reduce the mortality and morbidity of HIV infection and AIDS in China.
Since the emergence of drug-resistant mutants has limited the efficacy of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), it is essential to develop new antivirals with better drug-resistance and pharmacokinetic profiles. Here we designed and synthesized a series of 1-[(2-benzyloxyl/alkoxyl)methyl]-5-halo-6-aryluracils, the HEPT analogues, and evaluated their biological activity using Nevirapine and 18 (TNK-651) as reference compounds. Most of these compounds, especially 6b, 7b, 9b, 11b and 7c, exhibited highly potent anti-HIV-1 activity against both wild-type and NNRTI-resistant HIV-1 strains. The compound 7b, that had the highest selectivity index (SI = 38,215), is more potent than Nevirapine and 18. These results suggest that introduction of halogen at the C-5 position may contribute to the effectiveness of these compounds against RTI-resistant variants. In addition, m-substituents on the C-6 aromatic moiety could significantly enhance activity against NNRTI-resistant HIV-1 strains. These compounds can be further developed as next-generation NNRTIs with improved antiviral efficacy and drug-resistance profile.
HIV-1; Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs); Drug-resistance
A strategy for antiviral drug discovery is the elucidation and imitation of viral interference mechanisms. HIV-1 patients benefit from a coinfection with GB Virus C (GBV-C), since HIV-positive individuals with long-term GBV-C viraemia show better survival rates than HIV-1 patients without persisting GBV-C. A direct influence of GBV-C on HIV-1 replication has been shown in coinfection experiments. GBV-C is a human non-pathogenic member of the flaviviridae family that can replicate in T and B cells. Therefore, GBV-C shares partly the same ecological niche with HIV-1. In earlier work we have demonstrated that recombinant glycoprotein E2 of GBV-C and peptides derived from the E2 N-terminus interfere with HIV entry. In this study we investigated the underlying mechanism. Performing a virus-cell fusion assay and temperature-arrested HIV-infection kinetics, we provide evidence that the HIV-inhibitory E2 peptides interfere with late HIV-1 entry steps after the engagement of gp120 with CD4 receptor and coreceptor. Binding and competition experiments revealed that the N-terminal E2 peptides bind to the disulfide loop region of HIV-1 transmembrane protein gp41. In conjunction with computational analyses, we identified sequence similarities between the N-termini of GBV-C E2 and the HIV-1 glycoprotein gp120. This similarity appears to enable the GBV-C E2 N-terminus to interact with the HIV-1 gp41 disulfide loop, a crucial domain involved in the gp120-gp41 interface. Furthermore, the results of the present study provide initial proof of concept that peptides targeted to the gp41 disulfide loop are able to inhibit HIV fusion and should inspire the development of this new class of HIV-1 entry inhibitors.
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 viruses, especially the laboratory-generated H5N1 mutants, have demonstrated the potential to cross the species barrier and infect mammals and humans. Consequently, the design of an effective and safe anti-H5N1 vaccine is essential. We previously demonstrated that the full-length hemagglutinin 1 (HA1) could induce significant neutralizing antibody response and protection. Here, we intended to identify the critical neutralizing domain (CND) in an optimal conformation that can elicit strong cross-neutralizing antibodies and protection against divergent H5N1 strains. We thus constructed six recombinant proteins covering different regions of HA1 of A/Anhui/1/2005(H5N1), each of which was fused with foldon (Fd) and Fc of human IgG. We found that the critical fragment fused with Fd/Fc (HA-13–263-Fdc, H5 numbering) that could elicit the strongest neutralizing antibody response is located in the N-terminal region of HA1 (residues 13–263), which covers the receptor-binding domain (RBD, residues 112–263). We then constructed three additional recombinants fused with Fd plus His tag (HA-13–263-Fd-His), Fc only (HA-13–263-Fc), and His tag only (HA-13–263-His), respectively. We found that the HA-13–263-Fdc, which formed an oligomeric conformation, induced the strongest neutralizing antibody response and cross-protection against challenges of two tested H5N1 virus strains covering clade 1: A/VietNam/1194/2004 (VN/1194) or clade 2.3.4: A/Shenzhen/406H/06 (SZ/406H), while HA-13–263-Fc dimer and HA-13–263-Fd-His trimer elicited higher neutralizing antibody response and protection than HA-13–263-His monomer. These results suggest that the oligomeric form of the CND containing the RBD can be further developed as an effective and safe vaccine for cross-protection against divergent strains of H5N1 viruses.
HIV-1 subtype B’ isolates have been predominantly circulating in China. Their intra- and inter-subtype neutralization sensitivity to autologous and heterologous plasmas has not been well studied.
Twelve HIV-1 B’ clinical isolates obtained from patients were tested for their intra- and inter-subtype neutralization sensitivity to the neutralization antibodies in the plasmas from patients infected by HIV-1 B’ and CRF07_BC subtypes, respectively. We found that the plasmas from the HIV-1 B’-infected patients could potently neutralize heterologous viruses of subtype B’ with mean ID50 titer (1/x) of about 67, but they were not effective in neutralizing autologous viruses of subtype B’ with mean ID50 titer (1/x) of about 8. The plasmas from HIV-1 CRF07_BC-infected patients exhibited weak inter-subtype neutralization activity against subtype B’ viruses with ID50 titer (1/x) is about 22. The neutralization sensitivity of HIV-1 B’ isolates was inversely correlated with the neutralizing activity of plasmas from HIV-1 B’-infected patients (Spearman’s r = −0.657, P = 0.020), and with the number of potential N-glycosylation site (PNGS) in V1-V5 region (Spearman’s r = −0.493, P = 0.034), but positively correlated with the viral load (Spearman’s r = 0.629, P = 0.028). It had no correlation with the length of V1-V5 regions or the CD4+ T cell count. Virus AH259V has low intra-subtype neutralization sensitivity, it can be neutralized by 17b (IC50: 10μg/ml) and 447-52D (IC50: 1.6μg/ml), and the neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) in plasma AH259P are effective in neutralizing infection by the primary HIV-1 isolates with different subtypes with ID50 titers (1/x) in the range of 32–396.
These findings suggest that the HIV-1 subtype B’ viruses may mutate under the immune pressure, thus becoming resistant to the autologous nAbs, possibly by changing the number of PNGS in the V1-V5 region of the viral gp120. Some of primary HIV-1 isolates are able to induce both intra- and inter-subtype cross-neutralizing antibody responses.
HIV-1 subtype B’; Clinical isolates; Neutralization sensitivity
The hydrophobic pocket in the HIV-1 gp41 N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) domain plays an important role in viral fusion and entry into the host cell, and serves as an attractive target for development of HIV-1 fusion/entry inhibitors. The peptide anti-HIV drug targeting gp41 NHR, T-20 (generic name: enfuvirtide; brand name: Fuzeon), was approved by the U.S. FDA in 2003 as the first HIV fusion/entry inhibitor for treatment of HIV/AIDS patients who fail to respond to the current antiretroviral drugs. However, because T20 lacks the pocket-binding domain (PBD), it exhibits low anti-HIV-1 activity and short half-life. Therefore, several next-generation HIV fusion inhibitory peptides with PBD have been developed. They possess longer half-life and more potent antiviral activity against a broad spectrum of HIV-1 strains, including the T-20-resistant variants. Nonetheless, the clinical application of these peptides is still limited by the lack of oral availability and the high cost of production. Thus, development of small molecule compounds targeting the gp41 pocket with oral availability has been promoted. This review describes the main approaches for identification of HIV fusion/entry inhibitors targeting the gp41 pocket and summarizes the latest progress in developing these inhibitors as a new class of anti-HIV drugs.
HIV-1; gp41; HIV fusion/entry inhibitors; small molecule compounds; hydrophobic pocket
Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the main viral cause of respiratory tract infection in infants as well as some elderly and high-risk adults with chronic pulmonary disease and the severely immunocompromised. So far, no specific anti-RSV therapeutics or effective anti-RSV vaccines have been reported. Only one humanized monoclonal antibody, Palivizumab, has been approved for use in high-risk infants to prevent RSV infection. Ribavirin is the only drug licensed for therapy of RSV infection, but its clinical use is limited by its nonspecific anti-RSV activity, toxic effect, and relatively high cost. Therefore, development of novel effective anti-RSV therapeutics is urgently needed. The RSV envelope glycoprotein F plays an important role in RSV fusion with, and entry into, the host cell and, consequently, serves as an attractive target for developing RSV entry inhibitors. This article reviews advances made in studies of the structure and function of the F protein and the development of RSV entry inhibitors targeting it.
RSV; viral entry; entry inhibitor; F protein
In the present study we investigate the impact of a range of TLR ligands and chitosan as potential adjuvants for different routes of mucosal immunisation (sublingual (SL), intranasal (IN), intravaginal (IVag) and a parenteral route (subcutaneous (SC)) in the murine model. We assess their ability to enhance antibody responses to HIV-1 CN54gp140 (gp140) and Tetanus toxoid (TT) in systemic and vaginal compartments. A number of trends were observed by route of administration. For non-adjuvanted antigen, SC>SL>IN immunisation with respect to systemic IgG responses, where endpoint titres were greater for TT than for gp140. In general, co-administration with adjuvants increased specific IgG responses where IN = SC>SL, while in the vaginal compartment IN>SL>SC for specific IgA. In contrast, for systemic and mucosal IgA responses to antigen alone SL>IN = SC. A number of adjuvants increased specific systemic IgA responses where in general IN>SL>SC immunisation, while for mucosal responses IN = SL>SC. In contrast, direct intravaginal immunisation failed to induce any detectable systemic or mucosal responses to gp140 even in the presence of adjuvant. However, significant systemic IgG responses to TT were induced by intravaginal immunisation with or without adjuvant, and detectable mucosal responses IgG and IgA were observed when TT was administered with FSL-1 or Poly I∶C. Interestingly some TLRs displayed differential activity dependent upon the route of administration. MPLA (TLR4) suppressed systemic responses to SL immunisation while enhancing responses to IN or SC immunisation. CpG B enhanced SL and IN responses, while having little or no impact on SC immunisation. These data demonstrate important route, antigen and adjuvant effects that need to be considered in the design of mucosal vaccine strategies.
Most currently approved anti-HIV drugs (e.g., reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors and fusion/entry inhibitors) must act inside or on surface of the target cell to inhibit HIV infection, but none can directly inactivate virions away from cells. Although soluble CD4 (sCD4) can inactivate laboratory-adapted HIV-1 strains, it fails to reduce the viral loads in clinical trials because of its low potency against primary isolates and tendency to enhance HIV-1 infection at low concentration. Thus, it is essential to design a better HIV inactivator with improved potency for developing new anti-HIV therapeutics that can actively attack the virus in the circulation before it attaches to and enter into the target cell.
We engineered a bivalent HIV-1 inactivator, designated 2DLT, by linking the D1D2 domain of CD4 to T1144, the next generation HIV fusion inhibitor, with a 35-mer linker. The D1D2 domain in this soluble 2DLT protein could bind to the CD4-binding site and induce the formation of the gp41 prehairpin fusion-intermediate (PFI), but showed no sCD4-mediated enhancement of HIV-1 infection. The T1144 domain in 2DLT then bound to the exposed PFI, resulting in rapid inactivation of HIV-1 virions in the absence of the target cell. Beside, 2DLT could also inhibit fusion of the virus with the target cell if the virion escapes the first attack of 2DLT.
This bivalent molecule can serve as a dual barrier against HIV infection by first inactivating HIV-1 virions away from cells and then blocking HIV-1 entry on the target cell surface, indicating its potential for development as a new class of anti-HIV drug.
HIV-1; gp41; Peptide; Six helix bundle; Inactivation; HIV-1 fusion inhibitor
A major obstacle thwarting preclinical development of microbicides is the lack of a validated biomarker of cervicovaginal inflammation. Therefore, the present study aims to identify novel noninvasive soluble markers in a murine model for assessment of microbicide mucosal safety. By performing cytokine antibody array analysis, we identified two adhesion molecules, L-selectin and P-selectin, which significantly increased when mucosal inflammation was triggered by nonoxynol-9 (N9), an anti-HIV-1 microbicide candidate that failed clinical trials, in a refined murine model of agent-induced cervicovaginal inflammation. We found that patterns of detection of L-selectin and P-selectin were obviously different from those of the two previously defined biomarkers of cervicovaginal inflammation, monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). The levels of these two soluble selectins correlated better than those of MCP-1 and IL-6 with the duration and severity of mucosal inflammation triggered by N9 and two approved proinflammatory compounds, benzalkonium chloride (BZK) and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), but not by two nonproinflammatory compounds, carboxymethyl celluose (CMC; microbicide excipients) and tenofovir (TFV; microbicide candidate). These data indicated that L-selectin and P-selectin can serve as additional novel cervicovaginal inflammation biomarkers for preclinical mucosal safety evaluation of candidate microbicides for the prevention of infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted pathogens.