Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine development requires selection of appropriate envelope (Env) immunogens. Twenty HIV-1 Env glycoproteins were examined for their ability to bind human anti-HIV-1 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and then used as immunogens in guinea pigs to identify promising immunogens. These included five Envs derived from chronically infected individuals, each representing one of five common clades and eight consensus Envs based on these five clades, as well as the consensus of the entire HIV-1 M group, and seven transmitted/founder (T/F) Envs from clades B and C. Sera from immunized guinea pigs were tested for neutralizing activity using 36 HIV-1 Env-pseudotyped viruses. All Envs bound to CD4 binding site, membrane-proximal, and V1/V2 MAbs with similar apparent affinities, although the T/F Envs bound with higher affinity to the MAb 17b, a CCR5 coreceptor binding site antibody. However, the various Envs differed in their ability to induce neutralizing antibodies. Consensus Envs elicited the most potent responses, but neutralized only a subset of viruses, including mostly easy-to-neutralize tier 1 and some more-difficult-to-neutralize tier 2 viruses. T/F Envs elicited fewer potent neutralizing antibodies but exhibited greater breadth than chronic or consensus Envs. Finally, chronic Envs elicited the lowest level and most limited breadth of neutralizing antibodies overall. Thus, each group of Env immunogens elicited a different antibody response profile. The complementary benefits of consensus and T/F Env immunogens raise the possibility that vaccines utilizing a combination of consensus and T/F Envs may be able to induce neutralizing responses with greater breadth and potency than single Env immunogens.
In this study, we present a technique to create a complex, high cholesterol-containing supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) using α-helical (AH) peptide-induced vesicle fusion. Vesicles consisting of POPC : POPE : POPS : SM : Chol (9.35 : 19.25 : 8.25 : 18.15 : 45.00) were used to form a SLB that models the native composition of the human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) lipid envelope. In the absence of AH peptides, these biomimetic vesicles fail to form a complete SLB. We verified and characterized AH peptide-induced vesicle fusion by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring, neutron reflectivity, and atomic force microscopy. Successful SLB formation entailed a characteristic frequency shift of −35.4 ± 2.0 Hz and a change in dissipation energy of 1.91 ± 0.52 × 10−6. Neutron reflectivity measurements determined the SLB thickness to be 49.9 +1.9−1.5 Å, and showed the SLB to be 100 +0.0−0.1% complete and void of residual AH peptide after washing. Atomic force microscopy imaging confirmed complete SLB formation and revealed three distinct domains with no visible defects. This vesicle fusion technique gives researchers access to a complex SLB composition with high cholesterol content and thus the ability to better recapitulate the native HIV-1 lipid membrane.
Immunological tolerance to self-antigen impairs humoral responses to HIV-1.
Many human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize multiple clades of HIV-1 are polyreactive and bind avidly to mammalian autoantigens. Indeed, the generation of neutralizing antibodies to the 2F5 and 4E10 epitopes of HIV-1 gp41 in man may be proscribed by immune tolerance because mice expressing the VH and VL regions of 2F5 have a block in B cell development that is characteristic of central tolerance. This developmental blockade implies the presence of tolerizing autoantigens that are mimicked by the membrane-proximal external region of HIV-1 gp41. We identify human kynureninase (KYNU) and splicing factor 3b subunit 3 (SF3B3) as the primary conserved, vertebrate self-antigens recognized by the 2F5 and 4E10 antibodies, respectively. 2F5 binds the H4 domain of KYNU which contains the complete 2F5 linear epitope (ELDKWA). 4E10 recognizes an epitope of SF3B3 that is strongly dependent on hydrophobic interactions. Opossums carry a rare KYNU H4 domain that abolishes 2F5 binding, but they retain the SF3B3 4E10 epitope. Immunization of opossums with HIV-1 gp140 induced extraordinary titers of serum antibody to the 2F5 ELDKWA epitope but little or nothing to the 4E10 determinant. Identification of structural motifs shared by vertebrates and HIV-1 provides direct evidence that immunological tolerance can impair humoral responses to HIV-1.
The recombinant canarypox vector, ALVAC-HIV, together with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gp120 envelope glycoprotein, has protected 31.2% of Thai individuals from HIV acquisition in the RV144 HIV vaccine trial. This outcome was unexpected, given the limited ability of the vaccine components to induce CD8+ T-cell responses or broadly neutralizing antibodies. We vaccinated macaques with an immunization regimen intended to mimic the RV144 trial and exposed them intrarectally to a dose of the simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac251 that transmits few virus variants, similar to HIV transmission to humans. Vaccination induced anti-envelope antibodies in all vaccinees and CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses. Three of the 11 macaques vaccinated with ALVAC-SIV/gp120 were protected from SIVmac251 acquisition, but the result was not significant. The remaining vaccinees were infected and progressed to disease. The magnitudes of vaccine-induced SIVmac251-specific T-cell responses and binding antibodies were not significantly different between protected and infected animals. However, sera from protected animals had higher avidity antibodies to gp120, recognized the variable envelope regions V1/V2, and reduced SIVmac251 infectivity in cells that express high levels of α4β7 integrins, suggesting a functional role of antibodies to V2. The current results emphasize the utility of determining the titer of repeated mucosal challenge in the preclinical evaluation of HIV vaccines.
An immune correlates analysis of the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial revealed that antibody responses to the gp120 V1/V2 region correlated inversely with infection risk. The RV144 protein immunogens (A244-rp120 and MN-rgp120) were modified by an N-terminal 11-amino-acid deletion (Δ11) and addition of a herpes simplex virus (HSV) gD protein-derived tag (gD). We investigated the effects of these modifications on gp120 expression, antigenicity, and immunogenicity by comparing unmodified A244 gp120 with both Δ11 deletion and gD tag and with Δ11 only. Analysis of A244 gp120, with or without Δ11 or gD, demonstrated that the Δ11 deletion, without the addition of gD, was sufficient for enhanced antigenicity to gp120 C1 region, conformational V2, and V1/V2 gp120 conformational epitopes. RV144 vaccinee serum IgGs bound more avidly to A244 gp120 Δ11 than to the unmodified gp120, and their binding was blocked by C1, V2, and V1/V2 antibodies. Rhesus macaques immunized with the three different forms of A244 gp120 proteins gave similar levels of gp120 antibody titers, although higher antibody titers developed earlier in A244 Δ11 gp120-immunized animals. Conformational V1/V2 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) gave significantly higher levels of blocking of plasma IgG from A244 Δ11 gp120-immunized animals than IgG from animals immunized with unmodified A244 gp120, thus indicating a qualitative difference in the V1/V2 antibodies induced by A244 Δ11 gp120. These results demonstrate that deletion of N-terminal residues in the RV144 A244 gp120 immunogen improves both envelope antigenicity and immunogenicity.
Our work is motivated by the observation that rare, broadly neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), 4E10 and 2F5, associate with HIV-1 lipids as part of a required first step in neutralization before binding to membrane-proximal antigens. Subsequently, induction of these types of NAbs may be limited by immunologic tolerance due to autoreactivity with host cell membranes. Despite the significance of this lipid reactivity there is little experimental evidence detailing NAb-membrane interactions. Simple and efficient screening assays are needed to select antibodies that have similar lipid reactivity as known NAbs. To this end we have developed a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy based assay that monitors antibody binding to thiol self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) that replicate salient lipid surface chemistries and NAb binding to lipid surfaces. Specifically, we probed the relative importance of charge and hydrophobicity on antibody-surface interactions. We found that NAb binding to hydrophobic thiol surfaces was significantly greater than that of control monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Furthermore, we confirmed the importance of charge-mediated antibody surface interactions, originally suggested by results from mAb interactions with conventional lipid vesicle/bilayer surfaces. Our approach, using self-assembled thiol monolayers that replicate the binding behavior of NAbs on lipid surfaces, thus provides an efficient and useful tool to screen interactions of mAbs and lipid-reactive NAbs.
HIV-1; Neutralizing antibody; Thiol model surface; Surface plasmon resonance
The detailed examination of the antibody repertoire from RV144 provides a unique template for understanding potentially protective antibody functions. Some potential immune correlates of protection were untested in the correlates analyses due to inherent assay limitations, as well as the need to keep the correlates analysis focused on a limited number of endpoints to achieve statistical power. In an RV144 pilot study, we determined that RV144 vaccination elicited antibodies that could bind infectious virions (including the vaccine strains HIV-1 CM244 and HIV-1 MN and an HIV-1 strain expressing transmitted/founder Env, B.WITO.c). Among vaccinees with the highest IgG binding antibody profile, the majority (78%) captured the infectious vaccine strain virus (CM244), while a smaller proportion of vaccinees (26%) captured HIV-1 transmitted/founder Env virus. We demonstrated that vaccine-elicited HIV-1 gp120 antibodies of multiple specificities (V3, V2, conformational C1, and gp120 conformational) mediated capture of infectious virions. Although capture of infectious HIV-1 correlated with other humoral immune responses, the extent of variation between these humoral responses and virion capture indicates that virion capture antibodies occupy unique immunological space.
The HIV-1 envelope (Env) is a key determinant in mediating viral entry and fusion to host cells and is a major target for HIV vaccine development. While Env is typically about 50% glycan by mass, glycosylation sites are known to evolve, with some glycosylation profiles presumably being more effective at facilitating neutralization escape than others.1 Thus, characterizing glycosylation patterns of Env and native virions and correlating glycosylation profiles with infectivity and Env immunogenicity are necessary first steps in designing effective immunogens. Herein, we describe a mass spectrometrybased strategy to determine HIV-1 Env glycosylation patterns and have compared two mammalian cell expressed recombinant Env immunogens, one a limited immunogen and one that induces crossclade neutralizing antibodies. We have used a glycopeptide-based mass mapping approach to identify and characterize Env’s glycosylation patterns by elucidating which sites are utilized and what type of glycan motif is present at each glycosylation site. Our results show that the immunogens displayed different degrees of glycosylation as well as a different characteristic set of glycan motifs. Thus, these techniques can be used to (1) define glycosylation profiles of recombinant Env proteins and Env on mature virions, (2) define specific carbohydrate moieties at each glycosylation site, and (3) determine the role of certain carbohydrates in HIV-1 infectivity and in modulation of Env immunogenicity.
HIV; envelope glycoprotein; glycosylation; vaccine; mass spectrometry
Breastfeeding is a leading cause of infant HIV-1 infection in the developing world, yet only a minority of infants exposed to HIV-1 via breastfeeding become infected. As a genetic bottleneck severely restricts the number of postnatally-transmitted variants, genetic or phenotypic properties of the virus Envelope (Env) could be important for the establishment of infant infection. We examined the efficiency of virologic functions required for initiation of infection in the gastrointestinal tract and the neutralization sensitivity of HIV-1 Env variants isolated from milk of three postnatally-transmitting mothers (n=13 viruses), five clinically-matched nontransmitting mothers (n=16 viruses), and seven postnatally-infected infants (n = 7 postnatally-transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses).
There was no difference in the efficiency of epithelial cell interactions between Env virus variants from the breast milk of transmitting and nontransmitting mothers. Moreover, there was similar efficiency of DC-mediated trans-infection, CCR5-usage, target cell fusion, and infectivity between HIV-1 Env-pseudoviruses from nontransmitting mothers and postnatal T/F viruses. Milk Env-pseudoviruses were generally sensitive to neutralization by autologous maternal plasma and resistant to breast milk neutralization. Infant T/F Env-pseudoviruses were equally sensitive to neutralization by broadly-neutralizing monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies as compared to nontransmitted breast milk Env variants.
Postnatally-T/F Env variants do not appear to possess a superior ability to interact with and cross a mucosal barrier or an exceptional resistance to neutralization that define their capability to initiate infection across the infant gastrointestinal tract in the setting of preexisting maternal antibodies.
HIV; Mother to child transmission; Galcer; Dendritic cells; Neutralizing antibodies
Most antibodies that broadly neutralize HIV-1 are highly somatically mutated in antibody clonal lineages that persist over time. Here, we describe the analysis of human antibodies induced during an HIV-1 vaccine trial (GSK PRO HIV-002) that used the clade B envelope (Env) gp120 of clone W6.1D (gp120W6.1D). Using dual-color antigen-specific sorting, we isolated Env-specific human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and studied the clonal persistence of antibodies in the setting of HIV-1 Env vaccination. We found evidence of VH somatic mutation induced by the vaccine but only to a modest level (3.8% ± 0.5%; range 0 to 8.2%). Analysis of 34 HIV-1-reactive MAbs recovered over four immunizations revealed evidence of both sequential recruitment of naïve B cells and restimulation of previously recruited memory B cells. These recombinant antibodies recapitulated the anti-HIV-1 activity of participant serum including pseudovirus neutralization and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). One antibody (3491) demonstrated a change in specificity following somatic mutation with binding of the inferred unmutated ancestor to a linear C2 peptide while the mutated antibody reacted only with a conformational epitope in gp120 Env. Thus, gp120W6.1D was strongly immunogenic but over four immunizations induced levels of affinity maturation below that of broadly neutralizing MAbs. Improved vaccination strategies will be needed to drive persistent stimulation of antibody clonal lineages to induce affinity maturation that results in highly mutated HIV-1 Env-reactive antibodies.
In the RV144 trial, the estimated efficacy of a vaccine regimen against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was 31.2%. We performed a case–control analysis to identify antibody and cellular immune correlates of infection risk.
In pilot studies conducted with RV144 blood samples, 17 antibody or cellular assays met prespecified criteria, of which 6 were chosen for primary analysis to determine the roles of T-cell, IgG antibody, and IgA antibody responses in the modulation of infection risk. Assays were performed on samples from 41 vaccinees who became infected and 205 uninfected vaccinees, obtained 2 weeks after final immunization, to evaluate whether immune-response variables predicted HIV-1 infection through 42 months of follow-up.
Of six primary variables, two correlated significantly with infection risk: the binding of IgG antibodies to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of HIV-1 envelope proteins (Env) correlated inversely with the rate of HIV-1 infection (estimated odds ratio, 0.57 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.02; q = 0.08), and the binding of plasma IgA antibodies to Env correlated directly with the rate of infection (estimated odds ratio, 1.54 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.03; q = 0.08). Neither low levels of V1V2 antibodies nor high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies were associated with higher rates of infection than were found in the placebo group. Secondary analyses suggested that Env-specific IgA antibodies may mitigate the effects of potentially protective antibodies.
This immune-correlates study generated the hypotheses that V1V2 antibodies may have contributed to protection against HIV-1 infection, whereas high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies may have mitigated the effects of protective antibodies. Vaccines that are designed to induce higher levels of V1V2 antibodies and lower levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies than are induced by the RV144 vaccine may have improved efficacy against HIV-1 infection.
The HIV-1 broad neutralizing antibody (bnAb) 2F5 has been shown to be poly/self-reactive in vitro, and we previously demonstrated that targeted expression of its VDJ rearrangement alone was sufficient to trigger a profound B cell developmental blockade in 2F5 VH knockin (KI) mice, consistent with central deletion of 2F5 H chain-expressing B cells. Here, we generate a strain expressing the entire 2F5 bnAb specificity, 2F5 VHxVL KI mice, and find an even higher degree of tolerance control than observed in the 2F5 VH KI strain. Although B-cell development was severely impaired in 2F5 VHxVL KI animals, we demonstrate rescue of their B-cells when cultured in IL-7/BAFF. Intriguingly, even under these conditions, most rescued B-cell hybridomas produced mAbs that lacked HIV-1 Envelope (Env) reactivity due to editing of the 2F5 L chain, and the majority of rescued B-cells retained an anergic phenotype. Thus, when clonal deletion is circumvented, κ editing and anergy are additional safeguards preventing 2F5 VH/VL expression by immature/transitional B-cells. Importantly, 7% of rescued B-cells retained 2F5 VH/VL-expression and secreted Env-specific mAbs with HIV-1 neutralizing activity. This “partial” rescue was further corroborated in vivo, as reflected by the anergic phenotype of most rescued B-cells in 2F5 VHxVL KI × Eμ-bcl2 tg mice, and significant (yet modest) enrichment of Env-specific B-cells and serum Igs. The rescued 2F5 mAb-producing B-cell clones in this study are the first examples of in vivo-derived bone marrow precursors specifying HIV-1 bnAbs, and provide a starting point for design of strategies aimed at rescuing such B-cells.
Viruses like HIV and SIV escape from containment by CD8+ T lymphocytes through generating mutations that interfere with epitope peptide:MHC class I binding. However, mutations in some viral epitopes are selected for that have no impact on this binding. We have explored the mechanism underlying the evolution of such epitopes by studying CD8+ T lymphocyte recognition of a dominant Nef epitope of SIVmac in infected Mamu-A*02+ rhesus monkeys. Clonal analysis of the p199RY-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte repertoire in these monkeys indicated that identical T cell clones were capable of recognizing wild-type (WT) and mutant epitope sequences. However, we found that the functional avidity of these CD8+ T lymphocytes for the mutant peptide:Mamu-A*02 complex was diminished. Using surface plasmon resonance to measure the binding affinity of the p199RY-specific TCR repertoire for WT and mutant p199RY peptide:Mamu-A*02 monomeric complexes, we found that the mutant p199RY peptide:Mamu-A*02 complexes had a lower affinity for TCRs purified from CD8+ T lymphocytes than did the WT p199RY peptide:Mamu-A*02 complexes. These studies demonstrate that differences in TCR affinity for peptide:MHC class I ligands can alter functional p199RY-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte responses to mutated epitopes, decreasing the capacity of these cells to contain SIVmac replication.
CD4 T follicular helper (TFH) cells interact with and stimulate the generation of antigen-specific B cells. TFH cell interaction with B cells correlates with production of SIV-specific immunoglobulins. However, the fate of TFH cells and their participation in SIV-induced antibody production is not well understood. We investigated the phenotype, function, location, and molecular signature of TFH cells in rhesus macaques. Similar to their human counterparts, TFH cells in rhesus macaques represented a heterogeneous population with respect to cytokine function. In a highly differentiated subpopulation of TFH cells, characterized by CD150lo expression, production of Th1 cytokines was compromised while IL-4 production was augmented, and cells exhibited decreased survival, cycling, and trafficking capacity. TFH cells exhibited a distinct gene profile that was markedly altered by SIV infection. TFH cells were infected by SIV; yet, in some animals, these cells actually accumulated during chronic SIV infection. Generalized immune activation and increased IL-6 production helped drive TFH differentiation during SIV infection. Accumulation of TFH cells was associated with increased frequency of activated germinal center B cells and SIV-specific antibodies. Therefore, chronic SIV does not disturb the ability of TFH cells to help B cell maturation and production of SIV-specific immunoglobulins.
Generation of potent anti-HIV antibody responses in mucosal compartments is a potential requirement of a transmission-blocking HIV vaccine. HIV-specific, functional antibody responses are present in breast milk, and these mucosal antibody responses may play a role in protection of the majority of HIV-exposed, breastfeeding infants. Therefore, characterization of HIV-specific antibodies produced by B cells in milk could guide the development of vaccines that elicit protective mucosal antibody responses.
We isolated B cells from colostrum of an HIV-infected lactating woman with a detectable neutralization response in milk and recombinantly produced and characterized the resulting HIV-1 Envelope (Env)-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).
The identified HIV-1 Env-specific colostrum mAbs, CH07 and CH08, represent two of the first mucosally-derived anti-HIV antibodies yet to be reported. Colostrum mAb CH07 is a highly-autoreactive, weakly-neutralizing gp140-specific mAb that binds to linear epitopes in the gp120 C5 region and gp41 fusion domain. In contrast, colostrum mAb CH08 is a nonpolyreactive CD4-inducible (CD4i) gp120-specific mAb with moderate breadth of neutralization.
These novel HIV-neutralizing mAbs isolated from a mucosal compartment provide insight into the ability of mucosal B cell populations to produce functional anti-HIV antibodies that may contribute to protection against virus acquisition at mucosal surfaces.
A small proportion of HIV-infected individuals generate a neutralizing antibody (NAb) response of exceptional magnitude and breadth. A detailed analysis of the critical epitopes targeted by broadly neutralizing antibodies should help to define optimal targets for vaccine design. HIV-1-infected subjects with potent cross-reactive serum neutralizing antibodies were identified by assaying sera from 308 subjects against a multiclade panel of 12 “tier 2” viruses (4 each of subtypes A, B, and C). Various neutralizing epitope specificities were determined for the top 9 neutralizers, including clade A-, clade B-, clade C-, and clade A/C-infected donors, by using a comprehensive set of assays. In some subjects, neutralization breadth was mediated by two or more antibody specificities. Although antibodies to the gp41 membrane-proximal external region (MPER) were identified in some subjects, the subjects with the greatest neutralization breadth targeted gp120 epitopes, including the CD4 binding site, a glycan-containing quaternary epitope formed by the V2 and V3 loops, or an outer domain epitope containing a glycan at residue N332. The broadly reactive HIV-1 neutralization observed in some subjects is mediated by antibodies targeting several conserved regions on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein.
Understanding the interactions between human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) virions and antibodies (Ab) produced during acute HIV-1 infection (AHI) is critical for defining antibody antiviral capabilities. Antibodies that bind virions may prevent transmission by neutralization of virus or mechanically prevent HIV-1 migration through mucosal layers. In this study, we quantified circulating HIV-1 virion-immune complexes (ICs), present in approximately 90% of AHI subjects, and compared the levels and antibody specificity to those in chronic infection. Circulating HIV-1 virions coated with IgG (immune complexes) were in significantly lower levels relative to the viral load in acute infection than in chronic HIV-1 infection. The specificities of the antibodies in the immune complexes differed between acute and chronic infection (anti-gp41 Ab in acute infection and anti-gp120 in chronic infection), potentially suggesting different roles in immunopathogenesis for complexes arising at different stages of infection. We also determined the ability of circulating IgG from AHI to bind infectious versus noninfectious virions. Similar to a nonneutralizing anti-gp41 monoclonal antibody (MAb), purified plasma IgG from acute HIV-1 subjects bound both infectious and noninfectious virions. This was in contrast to the neutralizing antibody 2G12 MAb that bound predominantly infectious virions. Moreover, the initial antibody response captured acute HIV-1 virions without selection for different HIV-1 envelope sequences. In total, this study demonstrates that the composition of immune complexes are dynamic over the course of HIV-1 infection and are comprised initially of antibodies that nonselectively opsonize both infectious and noninfectious virions, likely contributing to the lack of efficacy of the antibody response during acute infection.
Genetic factors, as well as antigenic stimuli, can influence antibody repertoire formation. Moreover, the affinity of antigen for unmutated naïve B cell receptors determines the threshold for activation of germinal center antibody responses. The gp41 2F5 broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) uses the VH2-5 gene, which has 10 distinct alleles that use either a heavy-chain complementarity-determining region 2 (HCDR2) aspartic acid (DH54) or an HCDR2 asparagine (NH54) residue. The 2F5 HCDR2 DH54 residue has been shown to form a salt bridge with gp41 665K; the VH2-5 germ line allele variant containing NH54 cannot do so and thus should bind less avidly to gp41. Thus, the induction of 2F5 bNAb is dependent on both genetic and structural factors that could affect antigen affinity of unmutated naïve B cell receptors. Here, we studied allelic variants of the VH2-5 inferred germ line forms of the HIV-1 gp41 bNAb 2F5 for their antigen binding affinities to gp41 linear peptide and conformational protein antigens. Both VH2-5 2F5 inferred germ line variants bound to gp41 peptides and protein, including the fusion intermediate protein mimic, although more weakly than the mature 2F5 antibody. As predicted, the affinity of the NH54 variant for fusion-intermediate conformation was an order of magnitude lower than that of the DH54 VH2-5 germ line antibody, demonstrating that allelic variants of 2F5 germ line antibodies differentially bind to gp41. Thus, these data demonstrate a genetically determined trait that may affect host responses to HIV-1 envelope epitopes recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies and has implications for unmutated ancestor-based immunogen design.
Many HIV-1 envelope-reactive antibodies shortly after HIV-1 transmission may arise from crow-reactive memory B cells previously stimulated by non-HIV-1 host or microbial antigens
The initial antibody response to HIV-1 is targeted to envelope (Env) gp41, and is nonneutralizing and ineffective in controlling viremia. To understand the origins and characteristics of gp41-binding antibodies produced shortly after HIV-1 transmission, we isolated and studied gp41-reactive plasma cells from subjects acutely infected with HIV-1. The frequencies of somatic mutations were relatively high in these gp41-reactive antibodies. Reverted unmutated ancestors of gp41-reactive antibodies derived from subjects acutely infected with HIV-1 frequently did not react with autologous HIV-1 Env; however, these antibodies were polyreactive and frequently bound to host or bacterial antigens. In one large clonal lineage of gp41-reactive antibodies, reactivity to HIV-1 Env was acquired only after somatic mutations. Polyreactive gp41-binding antibodies were also isolated from uninfected individuals. These data suggest that the majority of gp41-binding antibodies produced after acute HIV-1 infection are cross-reactive responses generated by stimulating memory B cells that have previously been activated by non–HIV-1 antigens.
V2/V3 conformational epitope antibodies that broadly neutralize HIV-1 (PG9 and PG16) have been recently described. Since an elicitation of previously known broadly neutralizing antibodies has proven elusive, the induction of antibodies with such specificity is an important goal for HIV-1 vaccine development. A critical question is which immunogens and vaccine formulations might be used to trigger and drive the development of memory B cell precursors with V2/V3 conformational epitope specificity. In this paper we identified a clonal lineage of four V2/V3 conformational epitope broadly neutralizing antibodies (CH01 to CH04) from an African HIV-1-infected broad neutralizer and inferred their common reverted unmutated ancestor (RUA) antibodies. While conformational epitope antibodies rarely bind recombinant Env monomers, a screen of 32 recombinant envelopes for binding to the CH01 to CH04 antibodies showed monoclonal antibody (MAb) binding to the E.A244 gp120 Env and to chronic Env AE.CM243; MAbs CH01 and CH02 also bound to transmitted/founder Env B.9021. CH01 to CH04 neutralized 38% to 49% of a panel of 91 HIV-1 tier 2 pseudoviruses, while the RUAs neutralized only 16% of HIV-1 isolates. Although the reverted unmutated ancestors showed restricted neutralizing activity, they retained the ability to bind to the E.A244 gp120 HIV-1 envelope with an affinity predicted to trigger B cell development. Thus, E.A244, B.9021, and AE.CM243 Envs are three potential immunogen candidates for studies aimed at defining strategies to induce V2/V3 conformational epitope-specific antibodies.
A component to the problem of inducing broad neutralizing HIV-1 gp41 membrane proximal external region (MPER) antibodies is the need to focus the antibody response to the transiently exposed MPER pre-hairpin intermediate neutralization epitope. Here we describe a HIV-1 envelope (Env) gp140 oligomer prime followed by MPER peptide-liposomes boost strategy for eliciting serum antibody responses in rhesus macaques that bind to a gp41 fusion intermediate protein. This Env-liposome immunization strategy induced antibodies to the 2F5 neutralizing epitope 664DKW residues, and these antibodies preferentially bound to a gp41 fusion intermediate construct as well as to MPER scaffolds stabilized in the 2F5-bound conformation. However, no serum lipid binding activity was observed nor was serum neutralizing activity for HIV-1 pseudoviruses present. Nonetheless, the Env-liposome prime-boost immunization strategy induced antibodies that recognized a gp41 fusion intermediate protein and was successful in focusing the antibody response to the desired epitope.
During the recent H1N1 influenza pandemic, excess morbidity and mortality was seen in young but not older adults suggesting that prior infection with influenza strains may have protected older subjects. In contrast, a history of recent seasonal trivalent vaccine in younger adults was not associated with protection.
Methods and Findings
To study hemagglutinin (HA) antibody responses in influenza immunization and infection, we have studied the day 7 plasma cell repertoires of subjects immunized with seasonal trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) and compared them to the plasma cell repertoires of subjects experimentally infected (EI) with influenza H3N2 A/Wisconsin/67/2005. The majority of circulating plasma cells after TIV produced influenza-specific antibodies, while most plasma cells after EI produced antibodies that did not react with influenza HA. While anti-HA antibodies from TIV subjects were primarily reactive with single or few HA strains, anti-HA antibodies from EI subjects were isolated that reacted with multiple HA strains. Plasma cell-derived anti-HA antibodies from TIV subjects showed more evidence of clonal expansion compared with antibodies from EI subjects. From an H3N2-infected subject, we isolated a 4-member clonal lineage of broadly cross-reactive antibodies that bound to multiple HA subtypes and neutralized both H1N1 and H3N2 viruses. This broad reactivity was not detected in post-infection plasma suggesting this broadly reactive clonal lineage was not immunodominant in this subject.
The presence of broadly reactive subdominant antibody responses in some EI subjects suggests that improved vaccine designs that make broadly reactive antibody responses immunodominant could protect against novel influenza strains.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies are not commonly produced in HIV-1 infected individuals nor by experimental HIV-1 vaccines. When these antibodies do occur, it is important to be able to isolate and characterize them to provide clues for vaccine design. CAP206 is a South African subtype C HIV-1-infected individual previously shown to have broadly neutralizing plasma antibodies targeting the envelope gp41 distal membrane proximal external region (MPER). We have now used a fluoresceinated peptide tetramer antigen with specific cell sorting to isolate a human neutralizing monoclonal antibody (mAb) against the HIV-1 envelope gp41 MPER. The isolated recombinant mAb, CAP206-CH12, utilized a portion of the distal MPER (HXB2 amino acid residues, 673–680) and neutralized a subset of HIV-1 pseudoviruses sensitive to CAP206 plasma antibodies. Interestingly, this mAb was polyreactive and used the same germ-line variable heavy (VH1-69) and variable kappa light chain (VK3-20) gene families as the prototype broadly neutralizing anti-MPER mAb, 4E10 (residues 672–680). These data indicate that there are multiple immunogenic targets in the C-terminus of the MPER of HIV-1 gp41 envelope and suggests that gp41 neutralizing epitopes may interact with a restricted set of naive B cells during HIV-1 infection.
The HIV-1 gp41 envelope (Env) membrane proximal external region (MPER) is an important vaccine target that in rare subjects can elicit neutralizing antibodies. One mechanism proposed for rarity of MPER neutralizing antibody generation is lack of reverted unmutated ancestor (putative naive B cell receptor) antibody reactivity with HIV-1 envelope. We have studied the effect of partial deglycosylation under non-denaturing (native) conditions on gp140 Env antigenicity for MPER neutralizing antibodies and their reverted unmutated ancestor antibodies. We found that native deglycosylation of clade B JRFL gp140 as well as group M consensus gp140 Env CON-S selectively increased the reactivity of Env with the broad neutralizing human mAbs, 2F5 and 4E10. Whereas fully glycosylated gp140 Env either did not bind (JRFL), or weakly bound (CON-S), 2F5 and 4E10 reverted unmutated ancestors, natively deglycosylated JRFL and CON-S gp140 Envs did bind well to these putative mimics of naive B cell receptors. These data predict that partially deglycoslated Env would bind better than fully glycosylated Env to gp41-specific naïve B cells with improved immunogenicity. In this regard, immunization of rhesus macaques demonstrated enhanced immunogenicity of the 2F5 MPER epitope on deglyosylated JRFL gp140 compared to glycosylated JRFL gp140. Thus, the lack of 2F5 and 4E10 reverted unmutated ancestor binding to gp140 Env may not always be due to lack of unmutated ancestor antibody reactivity with gp41 peptide epitopes, but rather, may be due to glycan interference of binding of unmutated ancestor antibodies of broad neutralizing mAb to Env gp41.
Critical to the design of an effective HIV-1 vaccine that will induce long-lasting broadly neutralizing antibodies is to understand why broad neutralizing antibodies are not induced. One hypothesis is that there are “holes” in the naïve B cell repertoires for unmutated B cell receptors that can bind to HIV-1 envelope (Env) neutralizing epitopes. In this paper, we test this hypothesis for the rare HIV-1 envelope gp41 broad neutralizing monoclonal antibodes (mAbs), called 2F5 and 4E10, and show that indeed, fully glycosylated Env does not bind to inferred unmutated ancestor antibodies (mimics of naïve B cell receptors) of mAbs 2F5 and 4E10, but that partially deglycosylated Envs that have had glycans removed under non-denaturing conditions, did bind to 2F5 and 4E10 unmutated ancestor antibodies. Thus, rather than there being a lack of existence of germline B cell receptors for gp41 broad neutralizing antibodies, one impediment to induction of gp41 broad neutralizing antibodies may be glycan interference with unmutated antibody binding to gp41 envelope.
Many successful vaccines induce persistent antibody responses that can last a lifetime. The mechanisms by which they do so remain unclear, but emerging evidence suggests that they activate dendritic cells (DCs) via Toll-like receptors (TLRs)1,2. For example, the yellow fever vaccine YF-17D, one of the most successful empiric vaccines ever developed3, activates DCs via multiple TLRs to stimulate pro-inflammatory cytokines4,5. Triggering specific combinations of TLRs in DCs can induce synergistic production of cytokines6, which results in enhanced T cell responses, but its impact on antibody responses remain unknown. Learning the critical parameters of innate immunity that programs such antibody responses remains a major challenge in vaccinology. Here we demonstrate that immunization of mice with synthetic nanoparticles containing antigens plus Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands 4 + 7 induces synergistic increases in antigen-specific, neutralizing antibodies compared to immunization with a single TLR ligand. Consistent with this there was enhanced persistence of germinal centers (GCs), and of plasma cell responses, which persisted in the lymph nodes for >1.5 years. Surprisingly, there was no enhancement of the early short-lived plasma cell response, relative to that observed with single TLR ligands. Molecular profiling of activated B cells, isolated 7 days after immunization, indicated early programming towards B cell memory. Antibody responses were dependent on direct triggering of both TLRs on B cells and dendritic cells (DCs), as well as on T-cell help. Immunization protected completely against lethal avian and swine influenza virus strains in mice, and induced robust immunity against pandemic H1N1 influenza in rhesus macaques.