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1.  Conformationally Selective RNA Aptamers Allosterically Modulate the β2-Adrenoceptor 
Nature chemical biology  2016;12(9):709-716.
G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) ligands function by stabilizing multiple, functionally distinct receptor conformations. This property underlies how “biased agonists” activate specific subsets of a given receptor’s signaling profile. However, stabilization of distinct active GPCR conformations to enable structural characterization of mechanisms underlying GPCR activation remains difficult. These challenges have accentuated the need for receptor tools that allosterically stabilize and regulate receptor function via unique, previously unappreciated mechanisms. Here, utilizing a highly diverse RNA library combined with advanced selection strategies involving state-of-the-art next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics analyses, we identify RNA aptamers that bind a prototypical GPCR, β2-adrenoceptor (β2AR). Using biochemical, pharmacological, and biophysical approaches, we demonstrate that these aptamers bind with nanomolar affinity at defined surfaces of the receptor, allosterically stabilizing active, inactive, and ligand-specific receptor conformations. The discovery of RNA aptamers as allosteric GPCR modulators significantly expands the diversity of ligands available to study the structural and functional regulation of GPCRs.
PMCID: PMC4990464  PMID: 27398998
2.  Optimization of the Solubility of HIV-1-Neutralizing Antibody 10E8 through Somatic Variation and Structure-Based Design 
Journal of Virology  2016;90(13):5899-5914.
Extraordinary antibodies capable of near pan-neutralization of HIV-1 have been identified. One of the broadest is antibody 10E8, which recognizes the membrane-proximal external region (MPER) of the HIV-1 envelope and neutralizes >95% of circulating HIV-1 strains. If delivered passively, 10E8 might serve to prevent or treat HIV-1 infection. Antibody 10E8, however, is markedly less soluble than other antibodies. Here, we describe the use of both structural biology and somatic variation to develop optimized versions of 10E8 with increased solubility. From the structure of 10E8, we identified a prominent hydrophobic patch; reversion of four hydrophobic residues in this patch to their hydrophilic germ line counterparts resulted in an ∼10-fold decrease in turbidity. We also used somatic variants of 10E8, identified previously by next-generation sequencing, to optimize heavy and light chains; this process yielded several improved variants. Of these, variant 10E8v4 with 26 changes versus the parent 10E8 was the most soluble, with a paratope we showed crystallographically to be virtually identical to that of 10E8, a potency on a panel of 200 HIV-1 isolates also similar to that of 10E8, and a half-life in rhesus macaques of ∼10 days. An anomaly in 10E8v4 size exclusion chromatography that appeared to be related to conformational isomerization was resolved by engineering an interchain disulfide. Thus, by combining a structure-based approach with natural variation in potency and solubility from the 10E8 lineage, we successfully created variants of 10E8 which retained the potency and extraordinary neutralization breadth of the parent 10E8 but with substantially increased solubility.
IMPORTANCE Antibody 10E8 could be used to prevent HIV-1 infection, if manufactured and delivered economically. It suffers, however, from issues of solubility, which impede manufacturing. We hypothesized that the physical characteristic of 10E8 could be improved through rational design, without compromising breadth and potency. We used structural biology to identify hydrophobic patches on 10E8, which did not appear to be involved in 10E8 function. Reversion of hydrophobic residues in these patches to their hydrophilic germ line counterparts increased solubility. Next, clues from somatic variants of 10E8, identified by next-generation sequencing, were incorporated. A combination of structure-based design and somatic variant optimization led to 10E8v4, with substantially improved solubility and similar potency compared to the parent 10E8. The cocrystal structure of antibody 10E8v4 with its HIV-1 epitope was highly similar to that with the parent 10E8, despite 26 alterations in sequence and substantially improved solubility. Antibody 10E8v4 may be suitable for manufacturing.
PMCID: PMC4907239  PMID: 27053554
3.  Tissue memory B cell repertoire analysis after ALVAC/AIDSVAX B/E gp120 immunization of rhesus macaques 
JCI Insight  null;1(20):e88522.
The ALVAC prime/ALVAC + AIDSVAX B/E boost RV144 vaccine trial induced an estimated 31% efficacy in a low-risk cohort where HIV‑1 exposures were likely at mucosal surfaces. An immune correlates study demonstrated that antibodies targeting the V2 region and in a secondary analysis antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), in the presence of low envelope-specific (Env-specific) IgA, correlated with decreased risk of infection. Thus, understanding the B cell repertoires induced by this vaccine in systemic and mucosal compartments are key to understanding the potential protective mechanisms of this vaccine regimen. We immunized rhesus macaques with the ALVAC/AIDSVAX B/E gp120 vaccine regimen given in RV144, and then gave a boost 6 months later, after which the animals were necropsied. We isolated systemic and intestinal vaccine Env-specific memory B cells. Whereas Env-specific B cell clonal lineages were shared between spleen, draining inguinal, anterior pelvic, posterior pelvic, and periaortic lymph nodes, members of Env‑specific B cell clonal lineages were absent in the terminal ileum. Env‑specific antibodies were detectable in rectal fluids, suggesting that IgG antibodies present at mucosal sites were likely systemically produced and transported to intestinal mucosal sites.
The RV144 HIV prime-boost vaccination regimen in macaques demonstrates that vaccine-specific B cell clonal lineages are absent in terminal ileum.
PMCID: PMC5135278  PMID: 27942585
4.  Strain-specific V3 and CD4 binding site autologous HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies select neutralization-resistant viruses 
Cell host & microbe  2015;18(3):354-362.
The third variable (V3) loop and the CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of the HIV-1 envelope are frequently targeted by neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) in infected individuals. In chronic infection, HIV-1 escape mutants repopulate the plasma, and V3 and CD4bs nAbs emerge that can neutralize heterologous tier 1 easy-to-neutralize, but not tier 2 difficult-to-neutralize HIV-1 isolates. However, neutralization sensitivity of autologous plasma viruses to this type of nAb response has not been studied. We describe the development and evolution in vivo of antibodies distinguished by their target specificity for V3and CD4bs epitopes on autologous tier 2 viruses but not on heterologous tier 2 viruses. A surprisingly high fraction of autologous circulating viruses was sensitive to these antibodies. These findings demonstrate a role for V3 and CD4bs antibodies in constraining the native envelope trimer in vivo to a neutralization-resistant phenotype, explaining why HIV-1 transmission generally occurs by tier 2 neutralization-resistant viruses.
PMCID: PMC4567706  PMID: 26355218
5.  Initiation of immune tolerance–controlled HIV gp41 neutralizing B cell lineages 
Science translational medicine  2016;8(336):336ra62.
Development of an HIV vaccine is a global priority. A major roadblock to a vaccine is an inability to induce protective broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs). HIV gp41 bnAbs have characteristics that predispose them to be controlled by tolerance. We used gp41 2F5 bnAb germline knock-in mice and macaques vaccinated with immunogens reactive with germline precursors to activate neutralizing antibodies. In germline knock-in mice, bnAb precursors were deleted, with remaining anergic B cells capable of being activated by germline-binding immunogens to make gp41-reactive immunoglobulin M (IgM). Immunized macaques made B cell clonal lineages targeted to the 2F5 bnAb epitope, but 2F5-like antibodies were either deleted or did not attain sufficient affinity for gp41-lipid complexes to achieve the neutralization potency of 2F5. Structural analysis of members of a vaccine-induced antibody lineage revealed that heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 (HCDR3) hydrophobicity was important for neutralization. Thus, gp41 bnAbs are controlled by immune tolerance, requiring vaccination strategies to transiently circumvent tolerance controls.
PMCID: PMC5006673  PMID: 27122615
6.  Antibody-Mediated Internalization of Infectious HIV-1 Virions Differs among Antibody Isotypes and Subclasses 
PLoS Pathogens  2016;12(8):e1005817.
Emerging data support a role for antibody Fc-mediated antiviral activity in vaccine efficacy and in the control of HIV-1 replication by broadly neutralizing antibodies. Antibody-mediated virus internalization is an Fc-mediated function that may act at the portal of entry whereby effector cells may be triggered by pre-existing antibodies to prevent HIV-1 acquisition. Understanding the capacity of HIV-1 antibodies in mediating internalization of HIV-1 virions by primary monocytes is critical to understanding their full antiviral potency. Antibody isotypes/subclasses differ in functional profile, with consequences for their antiviral activity. For instance, in the RV144 vaccine trial that achieved partial efficacy, Env IgA correlated with increased risk of HIV-1 infection (i.e. decreased vaccine efficacy), whereas V1-V2 IgG3 correlated with decreased risk of HIV-1 infection (i.e. increased vaccine efficacy). Thus, understanding the different functional attributes of HIV-1 specific IgG1, IgG3 and IgA antibodies will help define the mechanisms of immune protection. Here, we utilized an in vitro flow cytometric method utilizing primary monocytes as phagocytes and infectious HIV-1 virions as targets to determine the capacity of Env IgA (IgA1, IgA2), IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies to mediate HIV-1 infectious virion internalization. Importantly, both broadly neutralizing antibodies (i.e. PG9, 2G12, CH31, VRC01 IgG) and non-broadly neutralizing antibodies (i.e. 7B2 mAb, mucosal HIV-1+ IgG) mediated internalization of HIV-1 virions. Furthermore, we found that Env IgG3 of multiple specificities (i.e. CD4bs, V1-V2 and gp41) mediated increased infectious virion internalization over Env IgG1 of the same specificity, while Env IgA mediated decreased infectious virion internalization compared to IgG1. These data demonstrate that antibody-mediated internalization of HIV-1 virions depends on antibody specificity and isotype. Evaluation of the phagocytic potency of vaccine-induced antibodies and therapeutic antibodies will enable a better understanding of their capacity to prevent and/or control HIV-1 infection in vivo.
Author Summary
Emerging data highlight the role of antibody Fc effector functions as immunological mechanisms involved in vaccine and passive immunotherapy efficacy. One such Fc effector function is antibody-mediated virion internalization, where antibodies recognize a virus and engage Fc receptors on phagocytes, causing them to internalize the virus. Although potentially critical for protection from HIV-1 acquisition, the ability of HIV-1 specific antibodies to mediate virion internalization of infectious HIV-1 particles is unknown. We demonstrate that antibodies with different paratopes, isotypes and subclasses mediate HIV-1 virion internalization, using novel HIV-1 internalization assays. Env IgG3 mediated greater virion internalization activity than IgG1, followed by IgA1 and IgA2. Given that Env IgG3 correlated with decreased risk of HIV-1 infection in the one partially efficacious HIV-1 vaccine trial to date (RV144), determining the underlying antiviral mechanisms is critical for improving HIV-1 prevention strategies. Our study provides direct evidence of a new antiviral mechanism against HIV-1 infection, IgG3 mediated virion internalization, and raises the hypothesis that a mechanism of protection mediated by IgG3 could be this improved Fc-mediated antiviral function. These findings have important implications for harnessing antibody effector functions for HIV-1 vaccine design, HIV-1 cure and passive immunotherapy for HIV-1 clearance at the portal of entry.
PMCID: PMC5007037  PMID: 27579713
7.  Amino Acid Changes in the HIV-1 gp41 Membrane Proximal Region Control Virus Neutralization Sensitivity 
EBioMedicine  2016;12:196-207.
Most HIV-1 vaccines elicit neutralizing antibodies that are active against highly sensitive (tier-1) viruses or rare cases of vaccine-matched neutralization-resistant (tier-2) viruses, but no vaccine has induced antibodies that can broadly neutralize heterologous tier-2 viruses. In this study, we isolated antibodies from an HIV-1-infected individual that targeted the gp41 membrane-proximal external region (MPER) that may have selected single-residue changes in viral variants in the MPER that resulted in neutralization sensitivity to antibodies targeting distal epitopes on the HIV-1 Env. Similarly, a single change in the MPER in a second virus from another infected-individual also conferred enhanced neutralization sensitivity. These gp41 single-residue changes thus transformed tier-2 viruses into tier-1 viruses that were sensitive to vaccine-elicited tier-1 neutralizing antibodies. These data demonstrate that Env amino acid changes within the MPER bnAb epitope of naturally-selected escape viruses can increase neutralization sensitivity to multiple types of neutralizing antibodies, and underscore the critical importance of the MPER for maintaining the integrity of the tier-2 HIV-1 trimer.
•Amino acid changes in the HIV gp41 MPER can regulate neutralization sensitivity of distal epitopes.•MPER antibodies isolated early are resistant to MPER changes that enhance neutralization sensitivity.•HIV gp41 MPER is critical for determining overall HIV envelope conformations.
The HIV-1 envelope protein (Env) is the primary target for neutralizing antibodies. Most HIV-1 vaccines elicit neutralizing antibodies that are active against highly neutralization-sensitive (tier-1) or rare vaccine-matched more neutralization-resistant (tier-2) viruses, but no vaccine has induced antibodies that can broadly neutralize heterologous tier-2 viruses. In this study, we identified changes that occurred in two HIV-1-infected individuals in the membrane proximal region of the HIV-1 Env that resulted in neutralization sensitivity to antibodies targeting distal epitopes on the HIV Env. These single-residue changes thus transformed tier-2 viruses into tier-1 viruses, highlighting the importance of MPER residues in maintaining neutralization-resistant virus.
Graphical Abstract
Image 2
PMCID: PMC5078591  PMID: 27612593
8.  Diversion of HIV-1 Vaccine-induced Immunity by gp41-Microbiota Cross-reactive Antibodies 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2015;349(6249):aab1253.
A HIV-1 DNA prime-recombinant Adenovirus Type 5 (rAd5) boost vaccine failed to protect from HIV-1 acquisition. We studied the nature of the vaccine-induced antibody (Ab) response to HIV-1 envelope (Env). HIV-1-reactive plasma Ab titers were higher to Env gp41 than gp120, and repertoire analysis demonstrated that 93% of HIV-1-reactive Abs from memory B cells was to Env gp41. Vaccine-induced gp41-reactive monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were non-neutralizing, and frequently polyreactive with host and environmental antigens including intestinal microbiota (IM). Next generation sequencing of an IGHV repertoire prior to vaccination revealed an Env-IM cross-reactive Ab that was clonally-related to a subsequent vaccine-induced gp41-reactive Ab. Thus, HIV-1 Env DNA-rAd5 vaccine induced a dominant IM-polyreactive, non-neutralizing gp41-reactive Ab repertoire response that was associated with no vaccine efficacy.
PMCID: PMC4562404  PMID: 26229114
9.  Developmental Pathway of the MPER-Directed HIV-1-Neutralizing Antibody 10E8 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(6):e0157409.
Antibody 10E8 targets the membrane-proximal external region (MPER) of HIV-1 gp41, neutralizes >97% of HIV-1 isolates, and lacks the auto-reactivity often associated with MPER-directed antibodies. The developmental pathway of 10E8 might therefore serve as a promising template for vaccine design, but samples from time-of-infection—often used to infer the B cell record—are unavailable. In this study, we used crystallography, next-generation sequencing (NGS), and functional assessments to infer the 10E8 developmental pathway from a single time point. Mutational analysis indicated somatic hypermutation of the 2nd-heavy chain-complementarity determining region (CDR H2) to be critical for neutralization, and structures of 10E8 variants with V-gene regions reverted to genomic origin for heavy-and-light chains or heavy chain-only showed structural differences >2 Å relative to mature 10E8 in the CDR H2 and H3. To understand these developmental changes, we used bioinformatic sieving, maximum likelihood, and parsimony analyses of immunoglobulin transcripts to identify 10E8-lineage members, to infer the 10E8-unmutated common ancestor (UCA), and to calculate 10E8-developmental intermediates. We were assisted in this analysis by the preservation of a critical D-gene segment, which was unmutated in most 10E8-lineage sequences. UCA and early intermediates weakly bound a 26-residue-MPER peptide, whereas HIV-1 neutralization and epitope recognition in liposomes were only observed with late intermediates. Antibody 10E8 thus develops from a UCA with weak MPER affinity and substantial differences in CDR H2 and H3 from the mature 10E8; only after extensive somatic hypermutation do 10E8-lineage members gain recognition in the context of membrane and HIV-1 neutralization.
PMCID: PMC4907498  PMID: 27299673
10.  A Therapeutic Antibody for Cancer, Derived from Single Human B Cells 
Cell reports  2016;15(7):1505-1513.
Some patients with cancer never develop metastasis, and their host response may provide cues for innovative treatment strategies. We previously reported an association between autoantibodies against complement factor H (CFH) and early stage lung cancer. CFH prevents complement-mediated cytotoxicity (CDC) by inhibiting formation of cell-lytic membrane attack complexes on self-surfaces. In an effort to translate these findings into a biologic therapy for cancer, we isolated and expressed DNA sequences encoding high affinity human CFH antibodies directly from single, sorted B cells obtained from patients with the antibody. The co-crystal structure of a CFH antibody-target complex shows a conformational change in the target relative to the native structure. This recombinant CFH antibody causes complement activation, release of anaphylatoxins, and promotes CDC of tumor cell lines, and inhibits tumor growth in vivo. The isolation of anti-tumor antibodies derived from single human B cells represents an alternative paradigm in antibody drug discovery.
Graphical abstract
eTOC Blurb
Bushey et al. clone antibodies against complement factor H (CFH) from single human B cells. CFH protects tumor cells from complement dependent cytotoxicity (CDC). The authors demonstrate that a recombinant CFH antibody induces CDC of tumor cells, inhibits tumor growth in vivo, and stimulates infiltration of the tumor by lymphocytes.
PMCID: PMC4871760  PMID: 27160908
11.  The function and affinity maturation of HIV-1 gp120-specific monoclonal antibodies derived from colostral B cells 
Mucosal immunology  2015;9(2):414-427.
Despite the risk of transmitting HIV-1, mothers in resource-poor areas are encouraged to breastfeed their infants due to beneficial immunologic and nutritional factors in milk. Interestingly, in the absence of antiretroviral prophylaxis, the overwhelming majority of HIV-1-exposed, breastfeeding infants are naturally protected from infection. To understand the role of HIV-1 Envelope (Env)-specific antibodies in breast milk in natural protection against infant virus transmission, we produced 19 HIV-1 Env-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) isolated from colostrum B cells of HIV-1-infected mothers and investigated their specificity, evolution and anti-HIV-1 functions. Despite the previously reported genetic compartmentalization and gp120-specific bias of colostrum HIV Env-specific B cells, the colostrum Env-specific mAbs described here demonstrated a broad range of gp120 epitope specificities and functions, including inhibition of epithelial cell binding and dendritic cell mediated virus transfer, neutralization, and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Interestingly, we also identified divergent patterns of colostrum Env-specific B cell lineage evolution with respect to cross-reactivity to gastrointestinal commensal bacteria, indicating that commensal bacterial antigens play a role in shaping the local breast milk IgG repertoire. Maternal vaccine strategies to specifically target this breast milk B cell population may be necessary to achieve safe breastfeeding for all HIV-1-exposed infants.
PMCID: PMC4744153  PMID: 26242599
HIV; monoclonal antibodies; breast milk
12.  The Presence and Anti-HIV-1 Function of Tenascin C in Breast Milk and Genital Fluids 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(5):e0155261.
Tenascin-C (TNC) is a newly identified innate HIV-1-neutralizing protein present in breast milk, yet its presence and potential HIV-inhibitory function in other mucosal fluids is unknown. In this study, we identified TNC as a component of semen and cervical fluid of HIV-1-infected and uninfected individuals, although it is present at a significantly lower concentration and frequency compared to that of colostrum and mature breast milk, potentially due to genital fluid protease degradation. However, TNC was able to neutralize HIV-1 after exposure to low pH, suggesting that TNC could be active at low pH in the vaginal compartment. As mucosal fluids are complex and contain a number of proteins known to interact with the HIV-1 envelope, we further studied the relationship between the concentration of TNC and neutralizing activity in breast milk. The amount of TNC correlated only weakly with the overall innate HIV-1-neutralizing activity of breast milk of uninfected women and negatively correlated with neutralizing activity in milk of HIV-1 infected women, indicating that the amount of TNC in mucosal fluids is not adequate to impede HIV-1 transmission. Moreover, the presence of polyclonal IgG from milk of HIV-1 infected women, but not other HIV-1 envelope-binding milk proteins or monoclonal antibodies, blocked the neutralizing activity of TNC. Finally, as exogenous administration of TNC would be necessary for it to mediate measurable HIV-1 neutralizing activity in mucosal compartments, we established that recombinantly produced TNC has neutralizing activity against transmitted/founder HIV-1 strains that mimic that of purified TNC. Thus, we conclude that endogenous TNC concentration in mucosal fluids is likely inadequate to block HIV-1 transmission to uninfected individuals.
PMCID: PMC4868279  PMID: 27182834
13.  Broad and potent neutralization of HIV-1 by a gp41-specific human antibody 
Nature  2012;491(7424):406-412.
Characterization of human monoclonal antibodies is providing considerable insight into mechanisms of broad HIV-1 neutralization. Here we report an HIV-1 gp41 membrane-proximal external region (MPER)-specific antibody, named 10E8, which neutralizes ~98% of tested viruses. An analysis of sera from 78 healthy HIV-1-infected donors demonstrated that 27% contained MPER-specific antibodies and 8% contained 10E8-like specificities. In contrast to other neutralizing MPER antibodies, 10E8 did not bind phospholipids, was not autoreactive, and bound cell-surface envelope. The structure of 10E8 in complex with the complete MPER revealed a site-of-vulnerability comprising a narrow stretch of highly conserved gp41-hydrophobic residues and a critical Arg/Lys just prior to the transmembrane region. Analysis of resistant HIV-1 variants confirmed the importance of these residues for neutralization. The highly conserved MPER is a target of potent, non-self-reactive neutralizing antibodies, suggesting that HIV-1 vaccines should aim to induce antibodies to this region of HIV-1 Env.
PMCID: PMC4854285  PMID: 23151583
14.  Defining Potential Vaccine Targets of Haemophilus ducreyi Trimeric Autotransporter Adhesin DsrA 
Haemophilus ducreyi is the causative agent of the sexually transmitted genital ulcer disease chancroid. Strains of H. ducreyi are grouped in two classes (I and II) based on genotypic and phenotypic differences, including those found in DsrA, an outer membrane protein belonging to the family of multifunctional trimeric autotransporter adhesins. DsrA is a key serum resistance factor of H. ducreyi that prevents binding of natural IgM at the bacterial surface and functions as an adhesin to fibronectin, fibrinogen, vitronectin, and human keratinocytes. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) were developed to recombinant DsrA (DsrAI) from prototypical class I strain 35000HP to define targets for vaccine and/or therapeutics. Two anti-DsrAI MAbs bound monomers and multimers of DsrA from genital and non-genital/cutaneous H. ducreyi strains in a Western blot and reacted to the surface of the genital strains; however, these MAbs did not recognize denatured or native DsrA from class II strains. In a modified extracellular matrix protein binding assay using viable H. ducreyi, one of the MAbs partially inhibited binding of fibronectin, fibrinogen, and vitronectin to class I H. ducreyi strain 35000HP, suggesting a role for anti-DsrA antibodies in preventing binding of H. ducreyi to extracellular matrix proteins. Standard ELISA and surface plasmon resonance using a peptide library representing full-length, mature DsrAI revealed the smallest nominal epitope bound by one of the MAbs to be MEQNTHNINKLS. Taken together, our findings suggest that this epitope is a potential target for an H. ducreyi vaccine.
PMCID: PMC4410285  PMID: 25897604
15.  Comparable Antigenicity and Immunogenicity of Oligomeric Forms of a Novel, Acute HIV-1 Subtype C gp145 Envelope for Use in Preclinical and Clinical Vaccine Research 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(15):7478-7493.
Eliciting broadly reactive functional antibodies remains a challenge in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine development that is complicated by variations in envelope (Env) subtype and structure. The majority of new global HIV-1 infections are subtype C, and novel antigenic properties have been described for subtype C Env proteins. Thus, an HIV-1 subtype C Env protein (CO6980v0c22) from an infected person in the acute phase (Fiebig stage I/II) was developed as a research reagent and candidate immunogen. The gp145 envelope is a novel immunogen with a fully intact membrane-proximal external region (MPER), extended by a polylysine tail. Soluble gp145 was enriched for trimers that yielded the expected “fan blade” motifs when visualized by cryoelectron microscopy. CO6980v0c22 gp145 reacts with the 4E10, PG9, PG16, and VRC01 HIV-1 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), as well as the V1/V2-specific PGT121, 697, 2158, and 2297 MAbs. Different gp145 oligomers were tested for immunogenicity in rabbits, and purified dimers, trimers, and larger multimers elicited similar levels of cross-subtype binding and neutralizing antibodies to tier 1 and some tier 2 viruses. Immunized rabbit sera did not neutralize the highly resistant CO6980v0c22 pseudovirus but did inhibit the homologous infectious molecular clone in a peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) assay. This Env is currently in good manufacturing practice (GMP) production to be made available for use as a clinical research tool and further evaluation as a candidate vaccine.
IMPORTANCE At present, the product pipeline for HIV vaccines is insufficient and is limited by inadequate capacity to produce large quantities of vaccine to standards required for human clinical trials. Such products are required to evaluate critical questions of vaccine formulation, route, dosing, and schedule, as well as to establish vaccine efficacy. The gp145 Env protein presented in this study forms physical trimers, binds to many of the well-characterized broad neutralizing MAbs that target conserved Env epitopes, and induce cross-subtype neutralizing antibodies as measured in both cell line and primary cell assays. This subtype C Env gp145 protein is currently undergoing good manufacturing practice production for use as a reagent for preclinical studies and for human clinical research. This product will serve as a reagent for comparative studies and may represent a next-generation candidate HIV immunogen.
PMCID: PMC4505676  PMID: 25972551
16.  Structural Constraints of Vaccine-Induced Tier-2 Autologous HIV Neutralizing Antibodies Targeting the Receptor Binding Site 
Cell reports  2015;14(1):43-54.
Antibodies that neutralize autologous transmitted/founder (TF) HIV occur in most HIV-infected individuals and can evolve to neutralization breadth. Autologous neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) against neutralization-resistant (Tier-2) viruses are rarely induced by vaccination. While broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb)-HIV-Envelope structures have been defined, the structures of autologous nAbs have not. We show here that immunization with TF mutant Envs gp140 oligomers induced high-titer, V5-dependent, plasma neutralization for a Tier-2 autologous TF evolved mutant virus. Structural analysis of autologous nAb DH427 revealed binding to V5, demonstrating the source of narrow nAb specificity, and explaining the failure to acquire breadth. Thus, oligomeric TF Envs can elicit autologous nAbs to Tier-2 HIVs, but induction of bnAbs will require targeting of precursors of B cell lineages that can mature to heterologous neutralization.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC4706810  PMID: 26725118
17.  Antibody light chain-restricted recognition of the site of immune pressure in the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial is phylogenetically conserved 
Immunity  2014;41(6):909-918.
In HIV-1, the ability to mount antibody responses to conserved, neutralizing epitopes is critical for protection. Here we have studied the light chain usage of human and rhesus macaque antibodies targeted to a dominant region of the HIV-1 envelope second variable (V2) region involving lysine (K)169, the site of immune pressure in the RV144 vaccine efficacy trial. We found that humans and rhesus macaques used orthologous lambda variable gene segments encoding a glutamic acid-aspartic acid (ED) motif for K169 recognition. Structure determination of an unmutated ancestor antibody demonstrated that the V2 binding site was pre-configured for ED motif-mediated recognition prior to maturation. Thus, light chain usage for recognition of the site of immune pressure in the RV144 trial is highly conserved across species. These data indicate the HIV-1 K169-recognizing ED motif has persisted over the diversification between rhesus macaques and humans, suggesting an evolutionary advantage of this antibody recognition mode.
PMCID: PMC4324565  PMID: 25526306
18.  Comparison of Immunogenicity in Rhesus Macaques of Transmitted-Founder, HIV-1 Group M Consensus, and Trivalent Mosaic Envelope Vaccines Formulated as a DNA Prime, NYVAC, and Envelope Protein Boost 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(12):6462-6480.
An effective human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine must induce protective antibody responses, as well as CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses, that can be effective despite extraordinary diversity of HIV-1. The consensus and mosaic immunogens are complete but artificial proteins, computationally designed to elicit immune responses with improved cross-reactive breadth, to attempt to overcome the challenge of global HIV diversity. In this study, we have compared the immunogenicity of a transmitted-founder (T/F) B clade Env (B.1059), a global group M consensus Env (Con-S), and a global trivalent mosaic Env protein in rhesus macaques. These antigens were delivered using a DNA prime-recombinant NYVAC (rNYVAC) vector and Env protein boost vaccination strategy. While Con-S Env was a single sequence, mosaic immunogens were a set of three Envs optimized to include the most common forms of potential T cell epitopes. Both Con-S and mosaic sequences retained common amino acids encompassed by both antibody and T cell epitopes and were central to globally circulating strains. Mosaics and Con-S Envs expressed as full-length proteins bound well to a number of neutralizing antibodies with discontinuous epitopes. Also, both consensus and mosaic immunogens induced significantly higher gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay (ELISpot) responses than B.1059 immunogen. Immunization with these proteins, particularly Con-S, also induced significantly higher neutralizing antibodies to viruses than B.1059 Env, primarily to tier 1 viruses. Both Con-S and mosaics stimulated more potent CD8-T cell responses against heterologous Envs than did B.1059. Both antibody and cellular data from this study strengthen the concept of using in silico-designed centralized immunogens for global HIV-1 vaccine development strategies.
IMPORTANCE There is an increasing appreciation for the importance of vaccine-induced anti-Env antibody responses for preventing HIV-1 acquisition. This nonhuman primate study demonstrates that in silico-designed global HIV-1 immunogens, designed for a human clinical trial, are capable of eliciting not only T lymphocyte responses but also potent anti-Env antibody responses.
PMCID: PMC4474309  PMID: 25855741
19.  Longitudinal Antigenic Sequences and Sites from Intra-Host Evolution (LASSIE) Identifies Immune-Selected HIV Variants 
Viruses  2015;7(10):5443-5475.
Within-host genetic sequencing from samples collected over time provides a dynamic view of how viruses evade host immunity. Immune-driven mutations might stimulate neutralization breadth by selecting antibodies adapted to cycles of immune escape that generate within-subject epitope diversity. Comprehensive identification of immune-escape mutations is experimentally and computationally challenging. With current technology, many more viral sequences can readily be obtained than can be tested for binding and neutralization, making down-selection necessary. Typically, this is done manually, by picking variants that represent different time-points and branches on a phylogenetic tree. Such strategies are likely to miss many relevant mutations and combinations of mutations, and to be redundant for other mutations. Longitudinal Antigenic Sequences and Sites from Intrahost Evolution (LASSIE) uses transmitted founder loss to identify virus “hot-spots” under putative immune selection and chooses sequences that represent recurrent mutations in selected sites. LASSIE favors earliest sequences in which mutations arise. With well-characterized longitudinal Env sequences, we confirmed selected sites were concentrated in antibody contacts and selected sequences represented diverse antigenic phenotypes. Practical applications include rapidly identifying immune targets under selective pressure within a subject, selecting minimal sets of reagents for immunological assays that characterize evolving antibody responses, and for immunogens in polyvalent “cocktail” vaccines.
PMCID: PMC4632389  PMID: 26506369
human immunodeficiency virus type 1; vaccine; neutralizing antibodies; immunogen design; envelope glycoprotein; coevolution; immune escape; quasispecies; antigenic swarm; selection
20.  HIV-1 Antibodies and Vaccine Antigen Selectively Interact with Lipid Domains 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2014;1838(10):2662-2669.
The rare, broadly neutralizing antibodies, 4E10 and 2F5, that target the HIV-1 membrane proximal external region also associate with HIV-1 membrane lipids as part of a required first-step in HIV-1 neutralization. HIV-1 virions have high concentration of cholesterol and sphingomyelin, which are able to organize into liquid-ordered domains (i.e., lipid rafts), and could influence the interaction of neutralizing antibodies with epitopes proximal to the membrane. The objective of this research is to understand how these lipid domains contribute to 2F5/4E10 membrane interactions and to antigen presentation in liposomal form of HIV-1 vaccines. To this end we have engineered biomimetic supported lipid bilayers and are able to use atomic force microscopy to visualize membrane domains, antigen clustering, and antibody-membrane interactions. Our results demonstrate that 2F5/4E10 do not interact with highly ordered gel and liquid-ordered domains and exclusively bind to a liquid-disordered lipid phase. This suggests that vaccine liposomes that contain key viral membrane components, such as high cholesterol content, may not be advantageous for 2F5/4E10 vaccine strategies. Rather, vaccine liposomes that primarily contain a liquid-disordered phase may be more likely to elicit production of lipid reactive, 2F5- and 4E10-like antibodies.
PMCID: PMC4136754  PMID: 25019685
Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1); Supported Lipid Bilayer; Atomic Force Microscopy; Lipid Domain; Neutralizing Antibody
21.  Immunoglobulin Gene Insertions and Deletions in the Affinity Maturation of HIV-1 Broadly Reactive Neutralizing Antibodies 
Cell host & microbe  2014;16(3):304-313.
Induction of HIV-1 broad neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a goal of HIV-1 vaccine development but has remained challenging partially due to unusual traits of bnAbs, including high somatic hypermutation (SHM) frequencies and in-frame insertions and deletions (indels). Here we examined the propensity and functional requirement for indels within HIV-1 bnAbs. High-throughput sequencing of the immunoglobulin (Ig) VHDJH genes in HIV-1 infected and uninfected individuals revealed that the indel frequency was elevated among HIV-1-infected subjects, with no unique properties attributable to bnAb-producing individuals. This increased indel occurrence depended only on the frequency of SHM point-mutations. Indel-encoded regions were generally proximal to antigen binding sites. Additionally, reconstruction of a HIV-1 CD4-binding site bnAb clonal lineage revealed that a large compound VHDJH indel was required for bnAb activity. Thus, vaccine development should focus on designing regimens targeted at sustained activation of bnAb lineages to achieve the required SHM and indel events.
PMCID: PMC4163498  PMID: 25211073
22.  HIV-1 Envelope gp41 Antibodies Can Originate from Terminal Ileum B Cells that Share Cross-Reactivity with Commensal Bacteria 
Cell host & microbe  2014;16(2):215-226.
Monoclonal antibodies derived from blood plasma cells of acute HIV-1-infected individuals are predominantly targeted to the HIV Env gp41 and cross-reactive with commensal bacteria. To understand this phenomenon, we examined anti-HIV responses in ileum B cells using recombinant antibody technology and probed their relationship to commensal bacteria. The dominant ileum B cell response was to Env gp41. Remarkably, a majority (82%) of the ileum anti-gp41 antibodies cross-reacted with commensal bacteria, and of those, 43% showed non-HIV-1 antigen polyreactivity. Pyrosequencing revealed shared HIV-1 antibody clonal lineages between ileum and blood. Mutated immunoglobulin G antibodies cross-reactive with both Env gp41 and microbiota could also be isolated from the ileum of HIV-1 uninfected individuals. Thus, the gp41 commensal bacterial antigen cross-reactive antibodies originate in the intestine, and the gp41 Env response in HIV-1 infection can be derived from a preinfection memory B cell pool triggered by commensal bacteria that cross-react with Env.
PMCID: PMC4294419  PMID: 25121750
23.  Human Non-neutralizing HIV-1 Envelope Monoclonal Antibodies Limit the Number of Founder Viruses during SHIV Mucosal Infection in Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS Pathogens  2015;11(8):e1005042.
HIV-1 mucosal transmission begins with virus or virus-infected cells moving through mucus across mucosal epithelium to infect CD4+ T cells. Although broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) are the type of HIV-1 antibodies that are most likely protective, they are not induced with current vaccine candidates. In contrast, antibodies that do not neutralize primary HIV-1 strains in the TZM-bl infection assay are readily induced by current vaccine candidates and have also been implicated as secondary correlates of decreased HIV-1 risk in the RV144 vaccine efficacy trial. Here, we have studied the capacity of anti-Env monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against either the immunodominant region of gp41 (7B2 IgG1), the first constant region of gp120 (A32 IgG1), or the third variable loop (V3) of gp120 (CH22 IgG1) to modulate in vivo rectal mucosal transmission of a high-dose simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV-BaL) in rhesus macaques. 7B2 IgG1 or A32 IgG1, each containing mutations to enhance Fc function, was administered passively to rhesus macaques but afforded no protection against productive clinical infection while the positive control antibody CH22 IgG1 prevented infection in 4 of 6 animals. Enumeration of transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses revealed that passive infusion of each of the three antibodies significantly reduced the number of T/F genomes. Thus, some antibodies that bind HIV-1 Env but fail to neutralize virus in traditional neutralization assays may limit the number of T/F viruses involved in transmission without leading to enhancement of viral infection. For one of these mAbs, gp41 mAb 7B2, we provide the first co-crystal structure in complex with a common cyclical loop motif demonstrated to be critical for infection by other retroviruses.
Author Summary
Antibodies specifically recognize antigenic sites on pathogens and can mediate multiple antiviral functions through engagement of effector cells via their Fc region. Current HIV-1 vaccine candidates induce polyclonal antibody responses with multiple antiviral functions, but do not induce broadly neutralizing antibodies. An improved understanding of whether certain types of non-neutralizing HIV-1 specific antibodies can individually protect against HIV-1 infection may facilitate vaccine development. Here, we test whether non-neutralizing antibodies with multiple antiviral functions mediated through FcR engagement and recognition of virus particles or virus-infected cells can limit infection, despite lacking classical virus neutralization activity. In a passive antibody infusion-rhesus macaque challenge model, we tested the ability of non-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to limit virus acquisition. We demonstrate that two different types of non-neutralizing antibodies, one that recognizes both virus particles and infected cells (7B2) and another that recognizes only infected cells (A32) were capable of decreasing the number of transmitted founder viruses. Further, we provide the structure of 7B2 in complex with the gp41 cyclical loop motif, a motif critical for entry. These findings provide insights into the role that antibodies with antiviral properties, including virion capture and FcR mediated effector function, may play in protecting against HIV-1 acquisition.
PMCID: PMC4523205  PMID: 26237403
24.  Cooperation of B Cell Lineages in Induction of HIV-1-Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies 
Cell  2014;158(3):481-491.
Development of strategies for induction of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) by vaccines is a priority. Determining the steps of bnAb induction in HIV-1-infected individuals who make bnAbs is a key strategy for immunogen design. Here we study the B cell response in a bnAb-producing individual, and report cooperation between two B cell lineages to drive bnAb development. We isolated an autologous virus-neutralizing antibody lineage that targeted an envelope region (loop D) and selected virus escape mutants that resulted in both enhanced bnAb lineage envelope binding and escape mutant neutralization—traits associated with increased B cell antigen drive. Thus, in this individual, two B cell lineages cooperated to induce the development of bnAbs. Design of vaccine immunogens that simultaneously drive both autologous and broadly neutralizing B cell lineages may be important for vaccine-induced recapitulation of events that transpire during the maturation of neutralizing antibodies in HIV-1-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC4150607  PMID: 25065977
25.  Progress in HIV-1 Vaccine Development 
The past two years have seen a number of basic and translational science advances in the quest for development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine. These advances include discovery of new envelope (Env) targets of potentially protective antibodies, demonstration that CD8+ T cells can control HIV-1 infection, development of immunogens to overcome HIV-1 T cell epitope diversity, identification of correlates of transmission risk in an HIV-1 efficacy trial, and mapping the co-evolution of HIV-1 founder Env mutants in infected individuals who develop bnAbs, thereby defining broad neutralizing antibody (bnAb) developmental pathways. Despite these advances, a promising HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trial published in 2013 failed to prevent infection, and the HIV-1 vaccine field is still years away from deployment of an effective vaccine. This review summarizes what some of the scientific advances have been, what roadblocks still remain, and what the most promising approaches are for progress in design of successful HIV-1 vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC4133697  PMID: 25117798
HIV-1; vaccine; T cells; B cells; broadly neutralizing antibodies

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