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1.  Timing, Adherence, Resistance, and … Persistence? New Insight Into the Mechanisms of Failure of HIV Type 1 Postexposure Prophylaxis 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(10):1542-1544.
PMCID: PMC3805247  PMID: 24023256
HIV-1; postexposure prophylaxis; single-genome sequencing; viral sequestration
2.  Vaccine-Induced HIV-1 Envelope gp120 Constant Region 1-Specific Antibodies Expose a CD4-Inducible Epitope and Block the Interaction of HIV-1 gp140 with Galactosylceramide 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(16):9406-9417.
Mucosal epithelial cell surface galactosylceramide (Galcer) has been postulated to be a receptor for HIV-1 envelope (Env) interactions with mucosal epithelial cells. Disruption of the HIV-1 Env interaction with such alternate receptors could be one strategy to prevent HIV-1 entry through the mucosal barrier. To study antibody modulation of HIV-1 Env-Galcer interactions, we used Galcer-containing liposomes to assess whether natural- and vaccine-induced monoclonal antibodies can block HIV-1 Env binding to Galcer. HIV-1 Env gp140 proteins bound to Galcer liposomes with Kds (dissociation constants) in the nanomolar range. Several HIV-1 ALVAC/AIDSVAX vaccinee-derived monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for the gp120 first constant (C1) region blocked Galcer binding of a transmitted/founder HIV-1 Env gp140. Among the C1-specific MAbs that showed Galcer blocking, the antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity-mediating CH38 IgG and its natural IgA isotype were the most potent blocking antibodies. C1-specific IgG monoclonal antibodies that blocked Env binding to Galcer induced upregulation of the gp120 CD4-inducible (CD4i) epitope bound by MAb 17B, demonstrating that a conformational change in gp120 may be required for Galcer blocking. However, the MAb 17B itself did not block Env-Galcer binding, suggesting that the C1 antibody-induced gp120 conformational changes resulted in alteration in a Galcer binding site distant from the CD4i 17B MAb binding site.
IMPORTANCE Galactosyl ceramide, a glycosphingolipid, has been postulated to be a receptor for the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) interaction with mucosal epithelial cells. Here, we have mimicked this interaction by using an artificial membrane containing synthetic Galcer and recombinant HIV-1 Env proteins to identify antibodies that would block the HIV-1 Env-Galcer interaction. Our study revealed that a class of vaccine-induced human antibodies potently blocks HIV-1 Env-Galcer binding by perturbing the HIV-1 Env conformation.
PMCID: PMC4136246  PMID: 24920809
3.  Identification of Immunodominant CD4-Restricted Epitopes Co-Located with Antibody Binding Sites in Individuals Vaccinated with ALVAC-HIV and AIDSVAX B/E 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0115582.
We performed fine epitope mapping of the CD4+ responses in the ALVAC-HIV-AIDSVAX B/E prime-boost regimen in the Thai Phase III trial (RV144). Non-transformed Env-specific T cell lines established from RV144 vaccinees were used to determine the fine epitope mapping of the V2 and C1 responses and the HLA class II restriction. Data showed that there are two CD4+ epitopes contained within the V2 loop: one encompassing the α4β7 integrin binding site (AA179-181) and the other nested between two previously described genetic sieve signatures (AA169, AA181). There was no correlation between the frequencies of CD4+ fine epitope responses and binding antibody.
PMCID: PMC4321833  PMID: 25665096
4.  Rapid Seeding of the Viral Reservoir Prior to SIV Viremia in Rhesus Monkeys 
Nature  2014;512(7512):74-77.
The viral reservoir represents a critical challenge facing HIV-1 eradication strategies1–5. However, it remains unclear when and where the viral reservoir is seeded during acute infection and the extent to which it is susceptible to early antiretroviral therapy (ART). Here we show that the viral reservoir is seeded very early following mucosal SIV infection of rhesus monkeys and prior to systemic viremia. We initiated suppressive ART in groups of monkeys on days 3, 7, 10, and 14 following intrarectal SIVmac251 infection. Treatment on day 3 blocked the emergence of viral RNA and proviral DNA in peripheral blood and also substantially reduced levels of proviral DNA in lymph nodes and gastrointestinal mucosa as compared with treatment at later timepoints. In addition, treatment on day 3 abrogated the induction of SIV-specific humoral and cellular immune responses. Nevertheless, following discontinuation of ART after 24 weeks of fully suppressive therapy, virus rebounded in all animals, although animals treated on day 3 exhibited a delayed viral rebound as compared with animals treated on days 7, 10 and 14. The time to viral rebound correlated with total viremia during acute infection and with proviral DNA at the time of ART discontinuation. These data demonstrate that the viral reservoir is seeded very early following intrarectal SIV infection of rhesus monkeys, during the “eclipse” phase, and prior to viremia. This strikingly early seeding of the refractory viral reservoir raises important new challenges for HIV-1 eradication strategies.
PMCID: PMC4126858  PMID: 25042999
5.  Comprehensive Sieve Analysis of Breakthrough HIV-1 Sequences in the RV144 Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
PLoS Computational Biology  2015;11(2):e1003973.
The RV144 clinical trial showed the partial efficacy of a vaccine regimen with an estimated vaccine efficacy (VE) of 31% for protecting low-risk Thai volunteers against acquisition of HIV-1. The impact of vaccine-induced immune responses can be investigated through sieve analysis of HIV-1 breakthrough infections (infected vaccine and placebo recipients). A V1/V2-targeted comparison of the genomes of HIV-1 breakthrough viruses identified two V2 amino acid sites that differed between the vaccine and placebo groups. Here we extended the V1/V2 analysis to the entire HIV-1 genome using an array of methods based on individual sites, k-mers and genes/proteins. We identified 56 amino acid sites or “signatures” and 119 k-mers that differed between the vaccine and placebo groups. Of those, 19 sites and 38 k-mers were located in the regions comprising the RV144 vaccine (Env-gp120, Gag, and Pro). The nine signature sites in Env-gp120 were significantly enriched for known antibody-associated sites (p = 0.0021). In particular, site 317 in the third variable loop (V3) overlapped with a hotspot of antibody recognition, and sites 369 and 424 were linked to CD4 binding site neutralization. The identified signature sites significantly covaried with other sites across the genome (mean = 32.1) more than did non-signature sites (mean = 0.9) (p < 0.0001), suggesting functional and/or structural relevance of the signature sites. Since signature sites were not preferentially restricted to the vaccine immunogens and because most of the associations were insignificant following correction for multiple testing, we predict that few of the genetic differences are strongly linked to the RV144 vaccine-induced immune pressure. In addition to presenting results of the first complete-genome analysis of the breakthrough infections in the RV144 trial, this work describes a set of statistical methods and tools applicable to analysis of breakthrough infection genomes in general vaccine efficacy trials for diverse pathogens.
Author Summary
We present an analysis of the genomes of the HIV viruses that infected some participants of the RV144 Thai trial, which was the first study to show efficacy of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. We analyzed the HIV genomes of infected vaccine recipients and infected placebo recipients, and found differences between them. These differences coincide with previously-studied genetic features that are relevant to the biology of HIV infection, including features involved in immune recognition of the virus. The findings presented here generate testable hypotheses about the mechanism of the partial protection seen in the Thai trial, and may ultimately lead to improved vaccines. The article also presents a toolkit of methods for computational analyses that can be applied to other vaccine efficacy trials.
PMCID: PMC4315437  PMID: 25646817
6.  Nonneutralizing Functional Antibodies: a New “Old” Paradigm for HIV Vaccines 
Animal and human data from various viral infections and vaccine studies suggest that nonneutralizing antibodies (nNAb) without neutralizing activity in vitro may play an important role in protection against viral infection in vivo. This was illustrated by the recent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RV144 vaccine efficacy trial, which demonstrated that HIV-specific IgG-mediated nNAb directed against the V2 loop of HIV type 1 envelope (Env) were inversely correlated with risk for HIV acquisition, while Env-specific plasma IgA-mediated antibodies were directly correlated with risk. However, tier 1 NAb in the subset of responders with a low level of plasma Env-specific IgA correlated with decreased risk. Nonhuman primate simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge studies suggest that Env-mediated antibodies are essential and sufficient for protection. A comparison of immune responses generated in human efficacy trials reveals subtle differences in the fine specificities of the antibody responses, in particular in HIV-specific IgG subclasses. The underlying mechanisms that may have contributed to protection against HIV acquisition in humans, although not fully understood, are possibly mediated by antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and/or other nonneutralizing humoral effector functions, such as antibody-mediated phagocytosis. The presence of such functional nNAb in mucosal tissues and cervico-vaginal and rectal secretions challenges the paradigm that NAb are the predominant immune response conferring protection, although this does not negate the desirability of evoking neutralizing antibodies through vaccination. Instead, NAb and nNAb should be looked upon as complementary or synergistic humoral effector functions. Several HIV vaccine clinical trials to study these antibody responses in various prime-boost modalities in the systemic and mucosal compartments are ongoing. The induction of high-frequency HIV-specific functional nNAb at high titers may represent an attractive hypothesis-testing strategy in future HIV vaccine efficacy trials.
PMCID: PMC4135913  PMID: 24920599
7.  Initiation of ART during Early Acute HIV Infection Preserves Mucosal Th17 Function and Reverses HIV-Related Immune Activation 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004543.
Mucosal Th17 cells play an important role in maintaining gut epithelium integrity and thus prevent microbial translocation. Chronic HIV infection is characterized by mucosal Th17 cell depletion, microbial translocation and subsequent immune-activation, which remain elevated despite antiretroviral therapy (ART) correlating with increased mortality. However, when Th17 depletion occurs following HIV infection is unknown. We analyzed mucosal Th17 cells in 42 acute HIV infection (AHI) subjects (Fiebig (F) stage I-V) with a median duration of infection of 16 days and the short-term impact of early initiation of ART. Th17 cells were defined as IL-17+ CD4+ T cells and their function was assessed by the co-expression of IL-22, IL-2 and IFNγ. While intact during FI/II, depletion of mucosal Th17 cell numbers and function was observed during FIII correlating with local and systemic markers of immune-activation. ART initiated at FI/II prevented loss of Th17 cell numbers and function, while initiation at FIII restored Th17 cell numbers but not their polyfunctionality. Furthermore, early initiation of ART in FI/II fully reversed the initially observed mucosal and systemic immune-activation. In contrast, patients treated later during AHI maintained elevated mucosal and systemic CD8+ T-cell activation post initiation of ART. These data support a loss of Th17 cells at early stages of acute HIV infection, and highlight that studies of ART initiation during early AHI should be further explored to assess the underlying mechanism of mucosal Th17 function preservation.
Author Summary
Persistent systemic immune activation is a hallmark of chronic HIV infection and an independent predictor of disease progression. The underlying mechanism is not yet completely understood but thought to be associated with the loss of Th17 cells leading to the disruption of the mucosal barrier and subsequent microbial translocation. However, it remains unclear when these events take place in HIV infection, as the only data available to date are from SIV models. We evaluated the kinetics of Th17 depletion, microbial translocation and subsequent immune activation in early acute HIV infection and the effect of early initiated ART on these events. We discovered that a collapse of Th17 cell number and function, accompanied by local and systemic immune activation, occurs already during acute HIV infection. However, early initiation of ART preserved Th17 number and function and fully reversed any initial HIV-related immune activation. These findings argue for the importance of early events during HIV infection setting the stage for chronic immune activation and for early and aggressive treatment during acute HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC4263756  PMID: 25503054
8.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Vaccine Trials 
More than 2 million AIDS-related deaths occurred globally in 2008, and more than 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. Despite promising advances in prevention, an estimated 2.7 million new HIV infections occurred in that year, so that for every two patients placed on combination antiretroviral treatment, five people became infected. The pandemic poses a formidable challenge to the development, progress, and stability of global society 30 years after it was recognized. Experimental preventive HIV-1 vaccines have been administered to more than 44,000 human volunteers in more than 187 separate trials since 1987. Only five candidate vaccine strategies have been advanced to efficacy testing. The recombinant glycoprotein (rgp)120 subunit vaccines, AIDSVAX B/B and AIDSVAX B/E, and the Merck Adenovirus serotype (Ad)5 viral-vector expressing HIV-1 Gag, Pol, and Nef failed to show a reduction in infection rate or lowering of postinfection viral set point. Most recently, a phase III trial that tested a heterologous prime-boost vaccine combination of ALVAC-HIV vCP1521 and bivalent rgp120 (AIDSVAX B/E) showed 31% efficacy in protection from infection among community-risk Thai participants. A fifth efficacy trial testing a DNA/recombinant(r) Ad5 prime-boost combination is currently under way. We review the clinical trials of HIV vaccines that have provided insight into human immunogenicity or efficacy in preventing HIV-1 infection.
Clinical trials of HIV vaccines have provided insight into human immunogenicity and efficacy in preventing HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3543076  PMID: 23209178
9.  The Immune Space: A Concept and Template for Rationalizing Vaccine Development 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2014;30(11):1017-1022.
Empirical testing of candidate vaccines has led to the successful development of a number of lifesaving vaccines. The advent of new tools to manipulate antigens and new methods and vectors for vaccine delivery has led to a veritable explosion of potential vaccine designs. As a result, selection of candidate vaccines suitable for large-scale efficacy testing has become more challenging. This is especially true for diseases such as dengue, HIV, and tuberculosis where there is no validated animal model or correlate of immune protection. Establishing guidelines for the selection of vaccine candidates for advanced testing has become a necessity. A number of factors could be considered in making these decisions, including, for example, safety in animal and human studies, immune profile, protection in animal studies, production processes with product quality and stability, availability of resources, and estimated cost of goods. The “immune space template” proposed here provides a standardized approach by which the quality, level, and durability of immune responses elicited in early human trials by a candidate vaccine can be described. The immune response profile will demonstrate if and how the candidate is unique relative to other candidates, especially those that have preceded it into efficacy testing and, thus, what new information concerning potential immune correlates could be learned from an efficacy trial. A thorough characterization of immune responses should also provide insight into a developer's rationale for the vaccine's proposed mechanism of action. HIV vaccine researchers plan to include this general approach in up-selecting candidates for the next large efficacy trial. This “immune space” approach may also be applicable to other vaccine development endeavors where correlates of vaccine-induced immune protection remain unknown.
PMCID: PMC4208609  PMID: 24857015
10.  CD8 and CD4 Epitope Predictions in RV144: No Strong Evidence of a T-Cell Driven Sieve Effect in HIV-1 Breakthrough Sequences from Trial Participants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e111334.
The modest protection afforded by the RV144 vaccine offers an opportunity to evaluate its mechanisms of protection. Differences between HIV-1 breakthrough viruses from vaccine and placebo recipients can be attributed to the RV144 vaccine as this was a randomized and double-blinded trial. CD8 and CD4 T cell epitope repertoires were predicted in HIV-1 proteomes from 110 RV144 participants. Predicted Gag epitope repertoires were smaller in vaccine than in placebo recipients (p = 0.019). After comparing participant-derived epitopes to corresponding epitopes in the RV144 vaccine, the proportion of epitopes that could be matched differed depending on the protein conservation (only 36% of epitopes in Env vs 84–91% in Gag/Pol/Nef for CD8 predicted epitopes) or on vaccine insert subtype (55% against CRF01_AE vs 7% against subtype B). To compare predicted epitopes to the vaccine, we analyzed predicted binding affinity and evolutionary distance measurements. Comparisons between the vaccine and placebo arm did not reveal robust evidence for a T cell driven sieve effect, although some differences were noted in Env-V2 (0.022≤p-value≤0.231). The paucity of CD8 T cell responses identified following RV144 vaccination, with no evidence for V2 specificity, considered together both with the association of decreased infection risk in RV 144 participants with V-specific antibody responses and a V2 sieve effect, lead us to hypothesize that this sieve effect was not T cell specific. Overall, our results did not reveal a strong differential impact of vaccine-induced T cell responses among breakthrough infections in RV144 participants.
PMCID: PMC4211711  PMID: 25350851
11.  Protective Efficacy of a Global HIV-1 Mosaic Vaccine Against Heterologous SHIV Challenges in Rhesus Monkeys 
Cell  2013;155(3):10.1016/j.cell.2013.09.061.
The global diversity of HIV-1 represents a critical challenge facing HIV-1 vaccine development. HIV-1 mosaic antigens are bioinformatically optimized immunogens designed for improved coverage of HIV-1 diversity. However, the protective efficacy of global HIV-1 vaccine antigens has not previously been evaluated. Here we demonstrate the capacity of bivalent HIV-1 mosaic antigens to protect rhesus monkeys against acquisition of heterologous challenges with the difficult-to-neutralize simian-human immunodeficiency virus SHIV-SF162P3. Adenovirus/poxvirus and adenovirus/adenovirus vector-based vaccines expressing HIV-1 mosaic Env, Gag, and Pol afforded a significant reduction in the per-exposure acquisition risk following repetitive, intrarectal SHIV-SF162P3 challenges. Protection against acquisition of infection was correlated with vaccine-elicited binding, neutralizing, and functional non-neutralizing antibodies. These data demonstrate the protective efficacy of HIV-1 mosaic antigens and suggest a potential strategy towards the development of a global HIV-1 vaccine. Moreover, our findings suggest that the coordinated activity of multiple antibody functions may contribute to protection against difficult-to-neutralize viruses.
PMCID: PMC3846288  PMID: 24243013
12.  Natural Killer Cell–Mediated Innate Sieve Effect on HIV-1: The Impact of KIR/HLA Polymorphism on HIV-1 Subtype-Specific Acquisition in East Africa 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(8):1250-1254.
Here we explore the association between killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR)/HLA and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) acquisition with different viral subtypes circulating in East Africa. In the prospective Cohort Development (CODE) cohort (Mbeya, Tanzania), carriers of KIR3DS1 and its putative ligand (HLA-A or HLA-B Bw4-80Ile alleles) showed increased HIV-1 acquisition risk (odds ratio [OR] = 3.46; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12–10.63; P = .04) and a trend for enrichment for subtype A and A-containing recombinants (78% vs 46%; OR = 4.05; 95% CI, .91–28.30; P = .09) at the expense of subtype C (11% vs 43%; OR = 0.17; 95% CI, .01–.97; P = .08). In vitro, only natural killer cells from KIR3DS1(+)/HLA-Bw4-80Ile(+) healthy donors showed a 2-fold increased capacity to inhibit replication of subtype C vs subtype A viruses (P = .01). These findings suggest the presence of an innate sieve effect and may inform HIV-1 vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC3778971  PMID: 23922366
HIV-1; innate immunity; KIR; HLA; sieve effect; subtypes; East Africa
13.  High-throughput multiplex HLA genotyping by next-generation sequencing using multi-locus individual tagging 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):864.
Unambiguous human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is important in transplant matching and disease association studies. High-resolution HLA typing that is not restricted to the peptide-binding region can decrease HLA allele ambiguities. Cost and technology constraints have hampered high-throughput and efficient high resolution unambiguous HLA typing. We have developed a method for HLA genotyping that preserves the very high-resolution that can be obtained by next-generation sequencing (NGS) but also achieves substantially increased efficiency. Unambiguous HLA-A, B, C and DRB1 genotypes can be determined for 96 individuals in a single run of the Illumina MiSeq.
Long-range amplification of full-length HLA genes from four loci was performed in separate polymerase chain reactions (PCR) using primers and PCR conditions that were optimized to reduce co-amplification of other HLA loci. Amplicons from the four HLA loci of each individual were then pooled and subjected to enzymatic library generation. All four loci of an individual were then tagged with one unique index combination. This multi-locus individual tagging (MIT) method combined with NGS enabled the four loci of 96 individuals to be analyzed in a single 500 cycle sequencing paired-end run of the Illumina-MiSeq. The MIT-NGS method generated sequence reads from the four loci were then discriminated using commercially available NGS HLA typing software. Comparison of the MIT-NGS with Sanger sequence-based HLA typing methods showed that all the ambiguities and discordances between the two methods were due to the accuracy of the MIT-NGS method.
The MIT-NGS method enabled accurate, robust and cost effective simultaneous analyses of four HLA loci per sample and produced 6 or 8-digit high-resolution unambiguous phased HLA typing data from 96 individuals in a single NGS run.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-864) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4196003  PMID: 25283548
HLA; NGS; HLA typing; Illumina MiSeq
14.  Association of HIV neutralizing antibody with lower viral load after treatment interruption in a prospective trial (A5170) 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(11):1452.
We investigated the impact of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) on CD4 T-cell count and viral load in a cohort of HAART recipients who underwent extended structured treatment interruption.
Substudy of NAb in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group 5170 trial.
Early plasma samples from 50 volunteers who discontinued HAART were evaluated in a peripheral blood mononuclear cell-based neutralization assay against a panel of four subtype B primary isolates.
We found that high-titer (90% inhibitory dose > 500) NAb against two or more isolates was associated with reduced viral load (P=0.003 at 12-week posttreatment interruption). This effect faded with time, losing significance (P=0.161) by study conclusion. Participants possessing the highest NAb levels against individual isolates appeared more likely to have lower viral loads with the association gaining significance against the R5-tropic primary isolate US1 (P=0.005). There was no association between broader neutralization and CD4 T-cell slope over time.
The data suggest that high-titer NAb responses at the time of treatment interruption are associated with reduced viral load over time, but not CD4+ T-cell decline.
PMCID: PMC3505760  PMID: 22767347
CD4+ T cells; HAART; HIV; neutralizing antibodies; viral load
15.  Aggregate complexes of HIV-1 induced by multimeric antibodies 
Retrovirology  2014;11(1):78.
Antibody mediated viral aggregation may impede viral transfer across mucosal surfaces by hindering viral movement in mucus, preventing transcytosis, or reducing inter-cellular penetration of epithelia thereby limiting access to susceptible mucosal CD4 T cells and dendritic cells. These functions may work together to provide effective immune exclusion of virus from mucosal tissue; however little is known about the antibody characteristics required to induce HIV aggregation. Such knowledge may be critical to the design of successful immunization strategies to facilitate viral immune exclusion at the mucosal portals of entry.
The potential of neutralizing and non-neutralizing IgG and IgA monoclonals (mAbs) to induce HIV-1 aggregation was assessed by Dynamic light scattering (DLS). Although neutralizing and non-neutralizing IgG mAbs and polyclonal HIV-Ig efficiently aggregated soluble Env trimers, they were not capable of forming viral aggregates. In contrast, dimeric (but not monomeric) IgA mAbs induced stable viral aggregate populations that could be separated from uncomplexed virions. Epitope specificity influenced both the degree of aggregation and formation of higher order complexes by dIgA. IgA purified from serum of uninfected RV144 vaccine trial responders were able to efficiently opsonize viral particles in the absence of significant aggregation, reflective of monomeric IgA.
These results collectively demonstrate that dIgA is capable of forming stable viral aggregates providing a plausible basis for testing the effectiveness of aggregation as a potential protection mechanism at the mucosal portals of viral entry.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12977-014-0078-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4193994  PMID: 25274446
HIV-1; Mucosal immunity; Immunoglobulin A; Aggregation
16.  Nautilus: A Bioinformatics Package for the Analysis of HIV Type 1 Targeted Deep Sequencing Data 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2013;29(10):1361-1364.
The advent of next generation sequencing technologies is providing new insight into HIV-1 diversity and evolution, which has created the need for bioinformatics tools that could be applied to the characterization of viral quasispecies. Here we present Nautilus, a bioinformatics package for the analysis of HIV-1 targeted deep sequencing data. The DeepHaplo module determines the nucleotide base frequency and read depth at each position and computes the haplotype frequencies based on the linkage among polymorphisms in the same next generation sequence read. The Motifs module computes the frequency of the variants in the setting of their sequence context and mapping orientation, which allows for the validation of polymorphisms and haplotypes when strand bias is suspected. Both modules are accessed through a user-friendly GUI, which runs on Mac OS X (version 10.7.4 or later), and are based on Python, JAVA, and R scripts. Nautilus is available from
PMCID: PMC3785804  PMID: 23809062
17.  Cryptic Determinant of α4β7 Binding in the V2 Loop of HIV-1 gp120 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108446.
The peptide segment of the second variable loop of HIV-1 spanning positions 166–181 harbors two functionally important sites. The first, spanning positions 179–181, engages the human α4β7 integrin receptor which is involved in T-cell gut-homing and may play a role in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-host cell interactions. The second, at positions 166–178, is a major target of anti-V2 antibodies elicited by the ALVAC/AIDSVAX vaccine used in the RV144 clinical trial. Notably, these two sites are directly adjacent, but do not overlap. Here, we report the identity of a second determinant of α4β7 binding located at positions 170–172 of the V2 loop. This segment – tripeptide QRV170–172– is located within the second site, yet functionally affects the first site. The absence of this segment abrogates α4β7 binding in peptides bearing the same sequence from position 173–185 as the V2 loops of the RV144 vaccines. However, peptides exhibiting V2 loop sequences from heterologous HIV-1 strains that include this QRV170–172 motif bind the α4β7 receptor on cells. Therefore, the peptide segment at positions 166–178 of the V2 loop of HIV-1 viruses appears to harbor a cryptic determinant of α4β7 binding. Prior studies show that the anti-V2 antibody response elicited by the RV144 vaccine, along with immune pressure inferred from a sieve analysis, is directed to this same region of the V2 loop. Accordingly, the anti-V2 antibodies that apparently reduced the risk of infection in the RV144 trial may have functioned by blocking α4β7-mediated HIV-host cell interactions via this cryptic determinant.
PMCID: PMC4180765  PMID: 25265384
18.  Vaccine-Induced Env V1–V2 IgG3 Correlates with Lower HIV-1 Infection Risk and Declines Soon After Vaccination 
Science translational medicine  2014;6(228):228ra39.
HIV-1–specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) subclass antibodies bind to distinct cellular Fc receptors. Antibodies of the same epitope specificity but of a different subclass therefore can have different antibody effector functions. The study of IgG subclass profiles between different vaccine regimens used in clinical trials with divergent efficacy outcomes can provide information on the quality of the vaccine-induced B cell response. We show that HIV-1–specific IgG3 distinguished two HIV-1 vaccine efficacy studies (RV144 and VAX003 clinical trials) and correlated with decreased risk of HIV-1 infection in a blinded follow-up case-control study with the RV144 vaccine. HIV-1–specific IgG3 responses were not long-lived, which was consistent with the waning efficacy of the RV144 vaccine. These data suggest that specific vaccine-induced HIV-1 IgG3 should be tested in future studies of immune correlates in HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials.
PMCID: PMC4116665  PMID: 24648342
19.  Performance of a Redesigned HIV Selectest Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay Optimized To Minimize Vaccine-Induced Seropositivity in HIV Vaccine Trial Participants 
Vaccine-induced seropositivity (VISP) or seroreactivity (VISR), defined as the reaction of antibodies elicited by HIV vaccines with antigens used in HIV diagnostic immunoassays, can result in reactive assay results for vaccinated but uninfected individuals, with subsequent misclassification of their infection status. The eventual licensure of a vaccine will magnify this issue and calls for the development of mitigating solutions in advance. An immunoassay that discriminates between antibodies elicited by vaccine antigens and those elicited by infection has been developed to address this laboratory testing need. The HIV Selectest is based on consensus and clade-specific HIV peptides that are omitted in many HIV vaccine constructs. The assay was redesigned to enhance performance across worldwide clades and to simplify routine use via a standard kit format. The redesigned assay was evaluated with sera from vaccine trial participants, HIV-infected and uninfected individuals, and healthy controls. The HIV Selectest exhibited specificities of 99.5% with sera from uninfected recipients of 6 different HIV vaccines and 100% with sera from normal donors, while detecting HIV-1 infections, including intercurrent infections, with 95 to 100% sensitivity depending on the clade, with the highest sensitivities for clades A and C. HIV Selectest sensitivity decreased in very early seroconversion specimens, which possibly explains the slightly lower sensitivity observed for asymptomatic blood donors than for clinical HIV cases. Thus, the HIV Selectest provides a new laboratory tool for use in vaccine settings to distinguish the immune response to HIV vaccine antigens from that due to true infection.
PMCID: PMC3957658  PMID: 24403525
20.  FCGR2C polymorphisms associate with HIV-1 vaccine protection in RV144 trial 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(9):3879-3890.
The phase III RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial estimated vaccine efficacy (VE) to be 31.2%. This trial demonstrated that the presence of HIV-1–specific IgG-binding Abs to envelope (Env) V1V2 inversely correlated with infection risk, while the presence of Env-specific plasma IgA Abs directly correlated with risk of HIV-1 infection. Moreover, Ab-dependent cellular cytotoxicity responses inversely correlated with risk of infection in vaccine recipients with low IgA; therefore, we hypothesized that vaccine-induced Fc receptor–mediated (FcR-mediated) Ab function is indicative of vaccine protection. We sequenced exons and surrounding areas of FcR-encoding genes and found one FCGR2C tag SNP (rs114945036) that associated with VE against HIV-1 subtype CRF01_AE, with lysine at position 169 (169K) in the V2 loop (CRF01_AE 169K). Individuals carrying CC in this SNP had an estimated VE of 15%, while individuals carrying CT or TT exhibited a VE of 91%. Furthermore, the rs114945036 SNP was highly associated with 3 other FCGR2C SNPs (rs138747765, rs78603008, and rs373013207). Env-specific IgG and IgG3 Abs, IgG avidity, and neutralizing Abs inversely correlated with CRF01_AE 169K HIV-1 infection risk in the CT- or TT-carrying vaccine recipients only. These data suggest a potent role of Fc-γ receptors and Fc-mediated Ab function in conferring protection from transmission risk in the RV144 VE trial.
PMCID: PMC4151214  PMID: 25105367
21.  Analysis of HLA A*02 Association with Vaccine Efficacy in the RV144 HIV-1 Vaccine Trial 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8242-8255.
The RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial demonstrated partial efficacy of 31% against HIV-1 infection. Studies into possible correlates of protection found that antibodies specific to the V1 and V2 (V1/V2) region of envelope correlated inversely with infection risk and that viruses isolated from trial participants contained genetic signatures of vaccine-induced pressure in the V1/V2 region. We explored the hypothesis that the genetic signatures in V1 and V2 could be partly attributed to selection by vaccine-primed T cells. We performed a T-cell-based sieve analysis of breakthrough viruses in the RV144 trial and found evidence of predicted HLA binding escape that was greater in vaccine versus placebo recipients. The predicted escape depended on class I HLA A*02- and A*11-restricted epitopes in the MN strain rgp120 vaccine immunogen. Though we hypothesized that this was indicative of postacquisition selection pressure, we also found that vaccine efficacy (VE) was greater in A*02-positive (A*02+) participants than in A*02− participants (VE = 54% versus 3%, P = 0.05). Vaccine efficacy against viruses with a lysine residue at site 169, important to antibody binding and implicated in vaccine-induced immune pressure, was also greater in A*02+ participants (VE = 74% versus 15%, P = 0.02). Additionally, a reanalysis of vaccine-induced immune responses that focused on those that were shown to correlate with infection risk suggested that the humoral responses may have differed in A*02+ participants. These exploratory and hypothesis-generating analyses indicate there may be an association between a class I HLA allele and vaccine efficacy, highlighting the importance of considering HLA alleles and host immune genetics in HIV vaccine trials.
IMPORTANCE The RV144 trial was the first to show efficacy against HIV-1 infection. Subsequently, much effort has been directed toward understanding the mechanisms of protection. Here, we conducted a T-cell-based sieve analysis, which compared the genetic sequences of viruses isolated from infected vaccine and placebo recipients. Though we hypothesized that the observed sieve effect indicated postacquisition T-cell selection, we also found that vaccine efficacy was greater for participants who expressed HLA A*02, an allele implicated in the sieve analysis. Though HLA alleles have been associated with disease progression and viral load in HIV-1 infection, these data are the first to suggest the association of a class I HLA allele and vaccine efficacy. While these statistical analyses do not provide mechanistic evidence of protection in RV144, they generate testable hypotheses for the HIV vaccine community and they highlight the importance of assessing the impact of host immune genetics in vaccine-induced immunity and protection. (This study has been registered at under registration no. NCT00223080.)
PMCID: PMC4135964  PMID: 24829343
22.  HIV Vaccines - Lessons learned and the way forward 
Current opinion in HIV and AIDS  2010;5(5):428-434.
Purpose of Review
An effective HIV vaccine is a global health priority. We describe lessons learned from four HIV vaccine trials that failed to demonstrate efficacy and one that showed modest protection as a pathway forward.
Recent findings
The Merck Ad5 phase IIb T-cell vaccine failed to show efficacy and might have increased the risk of HIV acquisition in MSM. While VaxGen gp120 alone was not efficacious in groups at high risk for HIV-1 infection, the RV144 ALVAC prime and gp120 boost regimen showed 31% efficacy in low incidence heterosexuals. All trials demonstrated the limitations of available laboratory and animal models to both assess relevant vaccine-induced immune responses and to predict clinical trial outcome. Analysis of innate and adaptive responses induced in RV 144 will guide future trial design.
Future HIV vaccine trials should define the RV 144 immune responses relevant to protection, improve durability and level of protection, and assess efficacy in diverse risk groups. New strategies examining heterologous vector prime boost, universal inserts, replicating vectors, and novel protein/adjuvant immunogens should be explored to induce both T-cell and antibody responses. HIV vaccine development requires innovative ideas and a sustained long-term commitment of scientists, governments, and the community.
PMCID: PMC2990218  PMID: 20978385
HIV; vaccine; Thailand; clinical trial; efficacy
23.  HIV-1 Vaccine-Induced C1 and V2 Env-Specific Antibodies Synergize for Increased Antiviral Activities 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(14):7715-7726.
The RV144 ALVAC/AIDSVax HIV-1 vaccine clinical trial showed an estimated vaccine efficacy of 31.2%. Viral genetic analysis identified a vaccine-induced site of immune pressure in the HIV-1 envelope (Env) variable region 2 (V2) focused on residue 169, which is included in the epitope recognized by vaccinee-derived V2 monoclonal antibodies. The ALVAC/AIDSVax vaccine induced antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) against the Env V2 and constant 1 (C1) regions. In the presence of low IgA Env antibody levels, plasma levels of ADCC activity correlated with lower risk of infection. In this study, we demonstrate that C1 and V2 monoclonal antibodies isolated from RV144 vaccinees synergized for neutralization, infectious virus capture, and ADCC. Importantly, synergy increased the HIV-1 ADCC activity of V2 monoclonal antibody CH58 at concentrations similar to that observed in plasma of RV144 vaccinees. These findings raise the hypothesis that synergy among vaccine-induced antibodies with different epitope specificities contributes to HIV-1 antiviral antibody responses and is important to induce for reduction in the risk of HIV-1 transmission.
IMPORTANCE The Thai RV144 ALVAC/AIDSVax prime-boost vaccine efficacy trial represents the only example of HIV-1 vaccine efficacy in humans to date. Studies aimed at identifying immune correlates involved in the modest vaccine-mediated protection identified HIV-1 envelope (Env) variable region 2-binding antibodies as inversely correlated with infection risk, and genetic analysis identified a site of immune pressure within the region recognized by these antibodies. Despite this evidence, the antiviral mechanisms by which variable region 2-specific antibodies may have contributed to lower rates of infection remain unclear. In this study, we demonstrate that vaccine-induced HIV-1 envelope variable region 2 and constant region 1 antibodies synergize for recognition of virus-infected cells, infectious virion capture, virus neutralization, and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. This is a major step in understanding how these types of antibodies may have cooperatively contributed to reducing infection risk and should be considered in the context of prospective vaccine design.
PMCID: PMC4097802  PMID: 24807721
25.  Vaccine-Induced IgG Antibodies to V1V2 Regions of Multiple HIV-1 Subtypes Correlate with Decreased Risk of HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87572.
In the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trial, IgG antibody (Ab) binding levels to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 were an inverse correlate of risk of HIV-1 infection. To determine if V1V2-specific Abs cross-react with V1V2 from different HIV-1 subtypes, if the nature of the V1V2 antigen used to asses cross-reactivity influenced infection risk, and to identify immune assays for upcoming HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials, new V1V2-scaffold antigens were designed and tested. Protein scaffold antigens carrying the V1V2 regions from HIV-1 subtypes A, B, C, D or CRF01_AE were assayed in pilot studies, and six were selected to assess cross-reactive Abs in the plasma from the original RV144 case-control cohort (41 infected vaccinees, 205 frequency-matched uninfected vaccinees, and 40 placebo recipients) using ELISA and a binding Ab multiplex assay. IgG levels to these antigens were assessed as correlates of risk in vaccine recipients using weighted logistic regression models. Levels of Abs reactive with subtype A, B, C and CRF01_AE V1V2-scaffold antigens were all significant inverse correlates of risk (p-values of 0.0008–0.05; estimated odds ratios of 0.53–0.68 per 1 standard deviation increase). Thus, levels of vaccine-induced IgG Abs recognizing V1V2 regions from multiple HIV-1 subtypes, and presented on different scaffolds, constitute inverse correlates of risk for HIV-1 infection in the RV144 vaccine trial. The V1V2 antigens provide a link between RV144 and upcoming HIV-1 vaccine trials, and identify reagents and methods for evaluating V1V2 Abs as possible correlates of protection against HIV-1 infection.
Trial Registration NCT00223080
PMCID: PMC3913641  PMID: 24504509

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