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1.  Antigenic Properties of the HIV Envelope on Virions in Solution 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(3):1795-1808.
The structural flexibility found in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) envelope glycoproteins creates a complex relationship between antigenicity and sensitivity to antiviral antibodies. The study of this issue in the context of viral particles is particularly problematic as conventional virus capture approaches can perturb antigenicity profiles. Here, we employed a unique analytical system based on fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), which measures antibody-virion binding with all reactants continuously in solution. Panels of nine anti-envelope monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and five virus types were used to connect antibody binding profiles with neutralizing activities. Anti-gp120 MAbs against the 2G12 or b12 epitope, which marks functional envelope structures, neutralized viruses expressing CCR5-tropic envelopes and exhibited efficient virion binding in solution. MAbs against CD4-induced (CD4i) epitopes considered hidden on functional envelope structures poorly bound these viruses and were not neutralizing. Anti-gp41 MAb 2F5 was neutralizing despite limited virion binding. Similar antigenicity patterns occurred on CXCR4-tropic viruses, except that anti-CD4i MAbs 17b and 19e were neutralizing despite little or no virion binding. Notably, anti-gp120 MAb PG9 and anti-gp41 MAb F240 bound to both CCR5-tropic and CXCR4-tropic viruses without exerting neutralizing activity. Differences in the virus production system altered the binding efficiencies of some antibodies but did not enhance antigenicity of aberrant gp120 structures. Of all viruses tested, only JRFL pseudoviruses showed a direct relationship between MAb binding efficiency and neutralizing potency. Collectively, these data indicate that the antigenic profiles of free HIV particles generally favor the exposure of functional over aberrant gp120 structures. However, the efficiency of virion-antibody interactions in solution inconsistently predicts neutralizing activity in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3911592  PMID: 24284318
3.  A New Monoclonal Antibody, mAb 4A12, Identifies a Role for the Glycosaminoglycan (GAG) Binding Domain of RANTES in the Antiviral Effect against HIV-1 and Intracellular Ca2+ Signaling  
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1998;188(10):1917-1927.
The β-chemokine RANTES (regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted) suppresses the infection of susceptible host cells by macrophage tropic strains of HIV-1. This effect is attributed to interactions of this chemokine with a 7-transmembrane domain receptor, CCR5, that is required for virus–cell fusion and entry. Here we identify domains of RANTES that contribute to its biological activities through structure–function studies using a new monoclonal antibody, mAb 4A12, isolated from mice immunized with recombinant human RANTES. This monoclonal antibody (mAb) blocked the antiviral activity of RANTES in infectivity assays with HIV-1Bal, and inhibited the mobilization of intracellular Ca2+ elicited by RANTES, yet recognized this chemokine bound to cell surfaces. Epitope mapping using limited proteolysis, reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry suggest that residues 55–66 of RANTES, which include the COOH-terminal α-helical region implicated as the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) binding domain, overlap the determinant recognized by mAb 4A12. This is supported by affinity chromatography studies, which showed that RANTES could be eluted specifically by heparin from a mAb 4A12 immunoaffinity matrix. Removal of cell surface GAGs by enzymatic digestion greatly reduced the ability of mAb 4A12 to detect RANTES passively bound on cell surfaces and abrogated the ability of RANTES to elicit an intracellular Ca2+ signal. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that the COOH-terminal α-helical region of RANTES plays a key role in GAG-binding, antiviral activity, and intracellular Ca2+ signaling and support a model in which GAGs play a key role in the biological activities of this chemokine.
PMCID: PMC2212410  PMID: 9815269
β-chemokines; human immunodeficiency virus 1; monoclonal antibody; signaling; antiviral effect
5.  Signature Biochemical Properties of Broadly Cross-Reactive HIV-1 Neutralizing Antibodies in Human Plasma 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(9):5014-5025.
The common properties of broadly cross-reactive HIV-1 neutralization antibodies found in certain HIV-1-infected individuals holds significant value for understanding natural and vaccine-mediated anti-HIV immunity. Recent efforts have addressed this question by deriving neutralizing monoclonal anti-envelope antibodies from memory B cell pools of selected subjects. However, it has been more difficult to identify whether broadly neutralizing antibodies circulating in plasma possess shared characteristics among individuals. To address this question, we used affinity chromatography and isoelectric focusing to fractionate plasma immunoglobulin from 10 HIV-1-infected subjects (5 subjects with broad HIV-1 neutralizing activity and 5 controls). We find that plasma neutralizing activity typically partitions into at least two subsets of antibodies. Antibodies with restricted neutralization breadth have relatively neutral isoelectric points and preferentially bind to envelope monomers and trimers versus core antigens from which variable loops and other domains have been deleted. In comparison, broadly neutralizing antibodies account for a minor fraction of the total anti-envelope response. They are consistently distinguished by more basic isoelectric points and specificity for epitopes shared by monomeric gp120, gp120 core, or CD4-induced structures. Such biochemical properties might be exploited to reliably predict or produce broad anti-HIV immunity.
PMCID: PMC3347347  PMID: 22379105
6.  Immune-Correlates Analysis of an HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2012;366(14):1275-1286.
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.
PMCID: PMC3371689  PMID: 22475592
7.  Identification and Characterization of an Immunogenic Hybrid Epitope Formed by both HIV gp120 and Human CD4 Proteins ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(24):13097-13104.
Certain antibodies from HIV-infected humans bind conserved transition state (CD4 induced [CD4i]) domains on the HIV envelope glycoprotein, gp120, and demonstrate extreme dependence on the formation of a gp120-human CD4 receptor complex. The epitopes recognized by these antibodies remain undefined although recent crystallographic studies of the anti-CD4i monoclonal antibody (MAb) 21c suggest that contacts with CD4 as well as gp120 might occur. Here, we explore the possibility of hybrid epitopes that demand the collaboration of both gp120 and CD4 residues to enable antibody reactivity. Analyses with a panel of human anti-CD4i MAbs and gp120-CD4 antigens with specific mutations in predicted binding domains revealed one putative hybrid epitope, defined by the human anti-CD4i MAb 19e. In virological and immunological tests, MAb 19e did not bind native or constrained gp120 except in the presence of CD4. This contrasted with other anti-CD4i MAbs, including MAb 21c, which bound unliganded, full-length gp120 held in a constrained conformation. Conversely, MAb 19e exhibited no specific reactivity with free human CD4. Computational modeling of MAb 19e interactions with gp120-CD4 complexes suggested a distinct binding profile involving antibody heavy chain interactions with CD4 and light chain interactions with gp120. In accordance, targeted mutations in CD4 based on this model specifically reduced MAb 19e interactions with stable gp120-CD4 complexes that retained reactivity with other anti-CD4i MAbs. These data represent a rare instance of an antibody response that is specific to a pathogen-host cell protein interaction and underscore the diversity of immunogenic CD4i epitope structures that exist during natural infection.
PMCID: PMC3233132  PMID: 21994452
8.  Correlation between circulating HIV-1 RNA and broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity 
To examine the relationship between HIV-1 antigenic load (plasma RNA copies/ml) and broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity.
Plasma from 120 HIV-1 infected patients, including HIV-1 Natural Viral Suppressors (similar to Elite Controllers), was tested for neutralization against 15 Tier 1/Tier 2 HIV-1 pseudoviruses. Broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity was confirmed with IgG and heterlogous clade testing (18 pseudoviruses from Clades A, C, and CRF02_AG). Statistical analysis was performed to determine factors associated with broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity.
Ten individuals with broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity were identified. These individuals had a median CD4 count of 589 cells/ul (range 202–927), 1,611 HIV-1 RNA copies/ml (range 110–8,964), and 13 years since HIV diagnosis (range 1–22). There was a significant correlation between the presence of broadly neutralizing antibodies in those with HIV-1 RNA between 100 and 10,000 copies/ml compared to those <100 or >10,000 copies/ml (p=.0003 and .0245, respectively). Individuals with HIV-1 RNA 100–10,000 copies/ml had a higher number of Tier 2 viruses neutralized compared to the <100or >10,000 copies/ml groups (p=< .0001 and p=.076, respectively). Male sex was associated with broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity (p=.016).
These results indicate that low but persistent HIV antigen expression correlates with broad HIV-1 neutralizing antibody activity. At higher levels of plasma viremia, neutralization titers were diminished. Conversely, at lower levels, there appears to be insufficient antigen stimulation to maintain high neutralization titers. These findings may have important implications in furthering the understanding of the humoral response to HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3110998  PMID: 21283016
HIV; broadly neutralizing antibody; neutralizing activity; HIV RNA; natural viral suppressor; elite controller
9.  Newcastle Disease Virus Expressing Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope Glycoprotein Induces Strong Mucosal and Serum Antibody Responses in Guinea Pigs▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(20):10529-10541.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is transmitted mainly through mucosal sites. Optimum strategies to elicit both systemic and mucosal immunity are critical for the development of vaccines against HIV-1. We therefore sought to evaluate the induction of systemic and mucosal immune responses by the use of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) as a vaccine vector. We generated a recombinant NDV, designated rLaSota/gp160, expressing the gp160 envelope (Env) protein of HIV-1 from an added gene. The gp160 protein expressed by rLaSota/gp160 virus was detected on an infected cell surface and was incorporated into the NDV virion. Biochemical studies showed that gp160 present in infected cells and in the virion formed a higher-order oligomer that retained recognition by conformationally sensitive monoclonal antibodies. Expression of gp160 did not increase the virulence of recombinant NDV (rNDV) strain LaSota. Guinea pigs were administered rLaSota/gp160 via the intranasal (i.n.) or intramuscular (i.m.) route in different prime-boost combinations. Systemic and mucosal antibody responses specific to the HIV-1 envelope protein were assessed in serum and vaginal washes, respectively. Two or three immunizations via the i.n. or i.m. route induced a more potent systemic and mucosal immune response than a single immunization by either route. Priming by the i.n. route was more immunogenic than by the i.m. route, and the same was true for the boosts. Furthermore, immunization with rLaSota/gp160 by any route or combination of routes induced a Th1-type response, as reflected by the induction of stronger antigen-specific IgG2a than IgG1 antibody responses. Additionally, i.n. immunization elicited a stronger neutralizing serum antibody response to laboratory-adapted HIV-1 strain MN.3. These data illustrate that it is feasible to use NDV as a vaccine vector to elicit potent humoral and mucosal responses to the HIV-1 envelope protein.
PMCID: PMC3187513  PMID: 21849467
10.  ‘Self-Protection’ of Individual CD4+ T Cells against R5 HIV-1 Infection by the Synthesis of Anti-Viral CCR5 Ligands 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3481.
It is well established that paracrine secretion of anti-viral CCR5 ligands by CD8+ and CD4+ T cells can block the infection of activated CD4+ T cells by R5 and dual-tropic isolates of HIV-1. By contrast, because CD4+ T cells can be infected by HIV-1 and at least some subsets secrete anti-viral CCR5 ligands, it is possible that these ligands protect against HIV-1 via autocrine as well as paracrine pathways. Here we use a model primary CD4+ T cell response in vitro to show that individual CD4+ T cells that secrete anti-viral CCR5 ligands are ‘self-protected’ against infection with R5 but not X4 strains of HIV-1. This protection is selective for CD4+ T cells that secrete anti-viral CCR5 ligands in that activated CD4+ T cells in the same cultures remain infectable with R5 HIV-1. These data are most consistent with an autocrine pathway of protection in this system and indicate a previously unappreciated selective pressure on the emergence of viral variants and CD4+ T cell phenotypes during HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC2567041  PMID: 18941536
11.  Preclinical Evaluation of Synthetic −2 RANTES as a Candidate Vaginal Microbicide To Target CCR5 
A potential strategy that can be used to combat the worldwide AIDS epidemic is the development of a vaginal microbicide that prevents the sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Certain CC chemokines, including RANTES, MIP-1α, and MIP-1β, might facilitate the development of such microbicides since they potently suppress HIV-1 infection by binding to CCR5, the viral coreceptor used by most sexually transmitted strains of HIV-1 to enter host cells. In this study, we evaluated whether a CCR5-specific fragment of RANTES that lacks two N-terminal residues (−2 RANTES) and possesses especially potent HIV-1 suppressive activity has toxicity profiles conducive to the advancement of testing in candidate microbicide formulations. Analyses were carried out with a synthetic version of the chemokine, which was formulated with either Novasomes 7474, a nonphospholipid liposome, or methylcellulose gel. Dialysis studies demonstrated that the formulated −2 RANTES was released from both vehicles and retained anti-HIV-1 activity. Preclinical toxicity studies carried out with Swiss Webster mouse and New Zealand White rabbit vaginal irritation models demonstrated minimal inflammation and minimal adverse changes in cervicovaginal tissue integrity after short-term (10 min) and long-term (24 h) exposure to formulations containing up to 1 mg/ml of −2 RANTES. Similarly, no toxicity was observed with formulations of bioactive murine RANTES in the Swiss Webster mouse vaginal irritation model. Overall, these preclinical studies suggest that −2 RANTES is suitable for further testing as a candidate anti-HIV-1 microbicide.
PMCID: PMC1426989  PMID: 16569870
12.  Antigenic Properties of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmembrane Glycoprotein during Cell-Cell Fusion 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(23):12123-12134.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) entry is triggered by interactions between a pair of heptad repeats in the gp41 ectodomain, which convert a prehairpin gp41 trimer into a fusogenic three-hairpin bundle. Here we examined the disposition and antigenic nature of these structures during the HIV-mediated fusion of HeLa cells expressing either HIVHXB2 envelope (Env cells) or CXCR4 and CD4 (target cells). Cell-cell fusion, indicated by cytoplasmic dye transfer, was allowed to progress for various lengths of time and then arrested. Fusion intermediates were then examined for reactivity with various monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against immunogenic cluster I and cluster II epitopes in the gp41 ectodomain. All of these MAbs produced similar staining patterns indicative of reactivity with prehairpin gp41 intermediates or related structures. MAb staining was seen on Env cells only upon exposure to soluble CD4, CD4-positive, coreceptor-negative cells, or stromal cell-derived factor-treated target cells. In the fusion system, the MAbs reacted with the interfaces of attached Env and target cells within 10 min of coculture. MAb reactivity colocalized with the formation of gp120-CD4-coreceptor tricomplexes after longer periods of coculture, although reactivity was absent on cells exhibiting cytoplasmic dye transfer. Notably, the MAbs were unable to inhibit fusion even when allowed to react with soluble-CD4-triggered or temperature-arrested antigens prior to initiation of the fusion process. In comparison, a broadly neutralizing antibody, 2F5, which recognizes gp41 antigens in the HIV envelope spike, was immunoreactive with free Env cells and Env-target cell clusters but not with fused cells. Notably, exposure of the 2F5 epitope required temperature-dependent elements of the HIV envelope structure, as MAb binding occurred only above 19°C. Overall, these results demonstrate that immunogenic epitopes, both neutralizing and nonneutralizing, are accessible on gp41 antigens prior to membrane fusion. The 2F5 epitope appears to depend on temperature-dependent elements on prefusion antigens, whereas cluster I and cluster II epitopes are displayed by transient gp41 structures. Such findings have important implications for HIV vaccine approaches based on gp41 intermediates.
PMCID: PMC136862  PMID: 12414953
13.  Antigenic Properties of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Envelope during Cell-Cell Fusion 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(22):11096-11105.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) fusion and entry involves sequential interactions between the viral envelope protein, gp120, cell surface CD4, and a G-protein-coupled coreceptor. Each interaction creates an intermediate gp120 structure predicted to display distinct antigenic features, including key functional domains for viral entry. In this study, we examined the disposition of these features during the fusion of HeLa cells expressing either HIVHXB2 envelope (Env cells) or CXCR4 and CD4 (target cells). Cell-cell fusion, indicated by cytoplasmic dye transfer, was allowed to progress for various times and then arrested. The cells were then examined for reactivity with antibodies directed against receptor-induced epitopes on gp120. Analyses of cells arrested by cooling to 4°C revealed that antibodies against the CD4-induced coreceptor-binding domain, i.e., 17b, 48d, and CG10, faintly react with Env cells even in the absence of target cell or soluble CD4 (sCD4) interactions. Such reactivity increased after exposure to sCD4 but remained unchanged during fusion with target cells and was not intensified at the Env-target cell interface. Notably, the antibodies did not react with Env cells when treated with a covalent cross-linker either alone or during fusion with target cells. Immunoreactivity could not be promoted or otherwise altered on either temperature arrested or cross-linked cells by preventing coreceptor interactions or by using a 17b Fab. In comparison, two other gp120-CD4 complex-dependent antibodies against epitopes outside the coreceptor domain, 8F101 and A32, exhibited a different pattern of reactivity. These antibodies reacted with the Env-target cell interface only after 30 min of cocultivation, concurrent with the first visible transfer of cytoplasmic dye from Env to target cells. At later times, the staining surrounded entire syncytia. Such binding was entirely dependent on the formation of gp120-CD4-CXCR4 tricomplexes since staining was absent with SDF-treated or coreceptor-negative target cells. Overall, these studies show that access to the CD4-induced coreceptor-binding domain on gp120 is largely blocked at the fusing cell interface and is unlikely to represent a target for neutralizing antibodies. However, new epitopes are presented on intermediate gp120 structures formed as a result of coreceptor interactions. Such findings have important implications for HIV vaccine approaches based on conformational alterations in envelope structures.
PMCID: PMC114689  PMID: 11602749
14.  Expression and Characterization of a Single-Chain Polypeptide Analogue of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 gp120-CD4 Receptor Complex 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(24):11427-11436.
The infection of CD4+ host cells by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is initiated by a temporal progression of interactions between specific cell surface receptors and the viral envelope protein, gp120. These interactions produce a number of intermediate structures with distinct conformational, functional, and antigenic features that may provide important targets for therapeutic and vaccination strategies against HIV infection. One such intermediate, the gp120-CD4 complex, arises from the interaction of gp120 with the CD4 receptor and enables interactions with specific coreceptors needed for viral entry. gp120-CD4 complexes are thus promising targets for anti-HIV vaccines and therapies. The development of such strategies would be greatly facilitated by a means to produce the gp120-CD4 complexes in a wide variety of contexts. Accordingly, we have developed single-chain polypeptide analogues that accurately replicate structural, functional, and antigenic features of the gp120-CD4 complex. One analogue (FLSC) consists of full-length HIV-1BaL gp120 and the D1D2 domains of CD4 joined by a 20-amino-acid linker. The second analogue (TcSC) contains a truncated form of the gp120 lacking portions of the C1, C5, V1, and V2 domains. Both molecules exhibited increased exposure of epitopes in the gp120 coreceptor-binding site but did not present epitopes of either gp120 or CD4 responsible for complex formation. Further, the FLSC and TcSC analogues bound specifically to CCR5 (R5) and blocked R5 virus infection. Thus, these single-chain chimeric molecules represent the first generation of soluble recombinant proteins that mimic the gp120-CD4 complex intermediate that arises during HIV replication.
PMCID: PMC112421  PMID: 11090138

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