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.
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.
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.
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.
Defining the structures and locations of the glycans attached on secreted proteins and virus envelope proteins is important in understanding how glycosylation affects their biological properties. Glycopeptide mass spectrometry (MS)-based analysis is a very powerful, emerging approach to characterize glycoproteins, in which glycosylation sites and the corresponding glycan structures are elucidated in a single MS experiment. However, to date there is not a consensus regarding which mass spectrometric platform provides the best glycosylation coverage information. Herein, we employ two of the most widely used MS approaches, online high performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (HPLC/ESI-MS) and offline HPLC followed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS), to determine which of the two approaches provides the best glycosylation coverage information of a complex glycoprotein, the group M consensus HIV-1 envelope, CON-S gp140ΔCFI, which has 31 potential glycosylation sites. Our results highlight differences in the informational content obtained between the two methods such as the overall number of glycosylation sites detected, the numbers of N-linked glycans present at each site, and the type of confirmatory information obtained about the glycopeptide using MS/MS experiments. The two approaches are quite complementary, both in their coverage of glycopeptides and in the information they provide in MS/MS experiments. The information in this study contributes to the field of mass spectrometry by demonstrating the strengths and limitations of two widely used MS platforms in glycoprotein analysis.
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
A single-nucleotide polymorphism (rs2395029) in the HCP5 gene associated with HLA-B*5701 is correlated with lower HIV-1 viral set point. The two allelic forms of coding region were ectopically expressed in TZM-bl cells for an effect on HIV-1 replication. No significant HIV-1 restriction was observed in the cells with infectivity assays throughout HIV-1 life cycle, suggesting that the association of HCP5 variant with viral control is likely due to HLA-B*5701-related effect or other functional variants in the haplotype or both.
To determine the spectrum of antiviral antibodies in HIV-1-infected individuals in whom viral replication is spontaneously undetectable, termed HIV controllers (HICs).
Multicenter French trial ANRS EP36 studying the viral control in HICs.
Neutralizing Antibody (nAb) activities (neutralization assay, competition with broadly reactive monoclonal antibodies, and reactivity against the viral MPER gp41 region), FcγR-mediated antiviral activities, antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC), as well as autoantibody levels, were quantified in plasma from 22 controllers and from viremic individuals. The levels of these different antibody responses and HIV-specific CD8 T cell responses quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) IFNγ assay were compared in each controller.
The levels of antibody against the gp120 CD4 binding site, gp41, as well as Env epitopes near to the sites bound by broadly nAbs 2F5 and 1b12 were not different between HICs and viremic individuals. We did not find significant autoantibody levels in HICs. The magnitude and breadth of nAbs were heterogeneous in HICs but lower than in viremic individuals. The levels of nAbs using FcγR-mediated assay inhibition were similar in both groups. Regardless of the type of antibody tested, there was no correlation with HIV-specific CD8 T cell responses. ADCC was detectable in all controllers tested and was significantly higher than in viremic individuals (P <0.0002).
There was no single anti-HIV-1 antibody specificity that was a clear correlate of immunity in controllers. Rather, for most antibody types, controllers had the same or lower levels of nAbs than viremic individuals, with the possible exception of ADCC antibodies.
antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity; FcγR; HIV controller; humoral immunity; neutralizing antibodies
Human (h) CD7 is a 40 kDa single chain Ig superfamily molecule that is expressed on thymocytes, a major subunit of peripheral T cells, and most natural killer cells. Ligands for hCD7 include the epithelial cell-produced molecule, K-12, and galectin. Mice deficient in CD7 have been shown to be resistant to LPS-induced endotoxic shock syndromes. However, monoclonal antibodies (MAb) to mouse (m) CD7 have yet to be produced, nor is the distribution of mCD7 protein in mice known. We have raised a panel of three rat MAbs to mCD7 by immunizing rats with recombinant mCD7 protein. However, using Western blot and immunoprecipitation of tissue extracts from mouse thymus, spleen, liver, brain, lymph node and skin, these anti-mouse CD7 MAbs bound only to murine heat shock protein 60 (HSP-60) present both in wild-type (CD7+/+) and CD7-deficient (CD7−/−) mice. Epitope mapping of the sites on HSP-60 and recombinant mCD7 recognized by mCD7 MAbs demonstrated non-homologous amino acid sequence epitopes recognized by anti-CD7 MAbs on both proteins. These data demonstrated molecular mimicry of mCD7 with HSP-60, and leave open the question of surface expression of mCD7.
The work presented herein describes the first comprehensive analysis of a partially deglycosylated HIV vaccine candidate envelope protein (Env). The Env, JRFL gp140 ΔCF, with 27 potential glycosylation sites, was partially deglycosylated with PNGase F as part of a strategy to generate a more immunogenic HIV vaccine, and the resulting protein’s glycosylation was characterized in a unique workflow using two different glycosidases, Endo H and Endo F3. This unique analysis protocol provided for coverage on 26 of the 27 glycosylation sites, and the data showed that the biochemical treatment with PNGase F resulted in a highly heterogeneous glycoprotein product that had been partially deglycosylated at most of the glycosylation sites. The protocols described in this work could be useful for characterizing the glycosylation site occupancy of other native or biochemically deglycosylated proteins.
Single genome sequencing of early HIV-1 genomes provides a sensitive, dynamic assessment of virus evolution and insight into the earliest anti-viral immune responses in vivo. By using this approach, together with deep sequencing, site-directed mutagenesis, antibody adsorptions and virus-entry assays, we found evidence in three subjects of neutralizing antibody (Nab) responses as early as 2 weeks post-seroconversion, with Nab titers as low as 1∶20 to 1∶50 (IC50) selecting for virus escape. In each of the subjects, Nabs targeted different regions of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) in a strain-specific, conformationally sensitive manner. In subject CH40, virus escape was first mediated by mutations in the V1 region of the Env, followed by V3. HIV-1 specific monoclonal antibodies from this subject mapped to an immunodominant region at the base of V3 and exhibited neutralizing patterns indistinguishable from polyclonal antibody responses, indicating V1–V3 interactions within the Env trimer. In subject CH77, escape mutations mapped to the V2 region of Env, several of which selected for alterations of glycosylation. And in subject CH58, escape mutations mapped to the Env outer domain. In all three subjects, initial Nab recognition was followed by sequential rounds of virus escape and Nab elicitation, with Nab escape variants exhibiting variable costs to replication fitness. Although delayed in comparison with autologous CD8 T-cell responses, our findings show that Nabs appear earlier in HIV-1 infection than previously recognized, target diverse sites on HIV-1 Env, and impede virus replication at surprisingly low titers. The unexpected in vivo sensitivity of early transmitted/founder virus to Nabs raises the possibility that similarly low concentrations of vaccine-induced Nabs could impair virus acquisition in natural HIV-1 transmission, where the risk of infection is low and the number of viruses responsible for transmission and productive clinical infection is typically one.
Characterizing early adaptive immune responses to HIV-1 can inform studies of virus persistence, pathogenesis and natural history and can guide rational vaccine design. Previous studies examined the role of neutralizing antibodies (Nab) in acute and chronic HIV-1 infection but not against the precise envelope (Env) glycoproteins of transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses and not in direct comparison with autologous cellular immune responses in the same subjects. Here, we identified T/F HIV-1 env genes and their progeny in three subjects by single genome sequencing and performed a dynamic assessment of Nab responses based on env evolution and phenotypic changes in the Env glycoprotein over time. Surprisingly, we found genetic evidence of Nab activity as early as 2 weeks post-seroconversion, with Nab titers as low as 1∶20 to 1∶50 (IC50) selecting for virus escape. Nabs targeted different regions of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) in a strain-specific, conformationally sensitive manner. Although delayed in comparison with autologous CD8 T-cell responses, Nabs appeared earlier in HIV-1 infection than previously recognized and impeded virus entry at low titers. This raises the possibility that similarly low concentrations of vaccine-induced Nabs could impair virus acquisition in natural HIV-1 transmission, where the risk of infection is low and the number of viruses responsible for transmission and productive clinical infection is typically one.
The genes encoding broadly HIV-1-neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) are highly divergent from their germ line counterparts. We have hypothesized that such high levels of somatic hypermutation could pose a challenge for elicitation of the broadly neutralizing (bn) Abs and that identification of less somatically mutated bn Abs may help in the design of effective vaccine immunogens. In a quest for such bn Abs, phage- and yeast-displayed antibody libraries, constructed using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from a patient with bn serum containing Abs targeting the epitope of the bn MAb 2F5, were panned against peptides containing the 2F5 epitope and against the HIV-1 gp140JR-FL. Two MAbs (m66 and m66.6) were identified; the more mutated variant (m66.6) exhibited higher HIV-1-neutralizing activity than m66, although it was weaker than 2F5 in a TZM-bl cell assay. Binding of both MAbs to gp41 alanine substitution mutant peptides required the DKW664–666 core of the 2F5 epitope and two additional upstream residues (L660,663). The MAbs have long (21-residue) heavy-chain third complementarity-determining regions (CDR-H3s), and m66.6 (but not m66) exhibited polyspecific reactivity to self- and non-self-antigens. Both m66 and m66.6 are significantly less divergent from their germ line Ab counterparts than 2F5—they have a total of 11 and 18 amino acid changes, respectively, from the closest VH and Vκ germ line gene products compared to 25 for 2F5. These new MAbs could help explore the complex maturation pathways involved in broad neutralization and its relationship with auto- and polyreactivity and may aid design of vaccine immunogens and development of therapeutics against HIV-1 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.
Epitopes that drive the initial autologous neutralizing antibody response in HIV-1-infected individuals could provide insights for vaccine design. Although highly strain specific, these epitopes are immunogenic, vulnerable to antibody attack on infectious virus, and could be involved in the ontogeny of broadly neutralizing antibody responses. To delineate such epitopes, we used site-directed mutagenesis, autologous plasma samples, and autologous monoclonal antibodies to map the amino acid changes that led to escape from the initial autologous neutralizing antibody response in two HIV-1 subtype B-infected individuals. Additional mapping of the epitopes was accomplished by using alanine scanning mutagenesis. Escape in the two individuals occurred by different pathways, but the responses in both cases appeared to be directed against the same region of gp120. In total, three amino acid positions were identified that were independently associated with autologous neutralization. Positions 295 and 332 are located immediately before and after the N- and C-terminal cysteines of the V3 loop, respectively, the latter of which affected an N-linked glycan that was critical to the neutralization epitope. Position 415 affected an N-linked glycan at position 413 in the C terminus of V4 that might mask epitopes near the base of V3. All three sites lie in close proximity on a four-stranded antiparallel sheet on the outer domain of gp120. We conclude that a region just below the base of the V3 loop, near the coreceptor binding domain of gp120, can be a target for autologous neutralization.
The B cell arm of the immune response becomes activated soon after HIV-1 transmission, yet the initial antibody response does not control HIV-1 replication, and it takes months for neutralizing antibodies to develop against the autologous virus. Antibodies that can be broadly protective are made only in a minority of subjects and take years to develop—too late to affect the course of disease. New studies of the earliest stages of HIV-1 infection, new techniques to probe the human B cell repertoire, the modest degree of efficacy in a vaccine trial, and new studies of human monoclonal antibodies that represent the types of immune responses an HIV-1 vaccine should induce are collectively illuminating paths that a successful HIV-1 vaccine might take.
The analysis of HIV-1 envelope carbohydrates is critical to understanding their roles in HIV-1 transmission as well as in binding of envelope to HIV-1 antibodies. However, direct analysis of protein glycosylation by glycopeptide-based mass mapping approaches involves structural simplification of proteins with the use of a protease followed by an isolation and/or enrichment step before mass analysis. The successful completion of glycosylation analysis is still a major analytical challenge due to the complexity of samples, wide dynamic range of glycopeptide concentrations, and glycosylation heterogeneity. Here, we use a novel experimental workflow that includes an up-front complete or partial enzymatic deglycosylation step before trypsin digestion to characterize the glycosylation patterns and maximize the glycosylation coverage of two recombinant HIV-1 transmitted/founder envelope oligomers derived from clade B and C viruses isolated from acute infection and expressed in 293T cells. Our results show that both transmitted/founder Envs had similar degrees of glycosylation site occupancy as well as similar glycan profiles. Compared to 293T-derived recombinant Envs from viruses isolated from chronic HIV-1, transmitted/founder Envs displayed marked differences in their glycosylation site occupancies and in their amounts of complex glycans. Our analysis reveals that the glycosylation patterns of transmitted/founder Envs from two different clades (B and C) are more similar to each other than they are to the glycosylation patterns of chronic HIV-1 Envs derived from their own clades.
Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) were developed against soluble Ebola virus (EBOV) envelope glycoprotein (GP) for the study of the diversity of EBOV envelope and development of diagnostic reagents. Of the three anti-EBOV GP mouse MAbs produced, MAb 15H10 recognized all human EBOV GP species tested (Zaire, Sudan, Ivory Coast), and as well as reacted with the Reston nonhuman primate EBOV GPs. A second MAb, 6D11 recognized EBOV GP species of Sudan and Sudan-Gulu. The third MAb, 17A3, was reported originally in the same article to be EBOV GP-specific has now been found to be specific for bovine and human α-2 macroglobulin (α-2M) proteins which were contaminants in the Ebola envelope protein preparation. Thus, while MAbs 15H10 and 6D11 are indeed EBOV GP specific, MAb 17A3 is an α-2 macroglobulin MAb.
Ebola virus; glycoprotein detection; monoclonal antibody; alpha-2-macroglobulin
Purpose of review
This review discusses select recent data that suggest that indeed it is possible to make a clinically useful preventive vaccine for HIV-1 and outlines some of the remaining obstacles that stand in the way of success.
Passive protection studies, with broad neutralizing antibodies for mucosal simian-HIV challenges, in nonhuman primates have suggested that lower doses of neutralizing antibodies than previously thought may be effective in preventing HIV-1 infection. The use of recombinant antibody technology coupled with the ability to culture single memory B cells has yielded new broad neutralizing antibodies and new targets for vaccine design. The success of the RV144 Thai HIV-1 efficacy trials with a replication-defective recombinant canarypox vector (ALVAC)/gp120 prime, clade B/E recombinant gp120 protein boost showing 31% efficacy has given hope that indeed a protective HIV-1 vaccine can be made.
Recent data in the last year have provided new hope that a clinically useful preventive HIV-1 vaccine can potentially be made. The path forward will require development of improved immunogens, understanding the correlates of protection to HIV-1, and development of immunogens to induce antibodies that can prevent the initial stages of HIV-1 infection at mucosal sites, in order to improve on the RV144 trial results.
antibodies; trials; vaccine
HIV-1 gp41 envelope antibodies, which are frequently induced in HIV-1-infected individuals, are predominantly nonneutralizing. The rare and difficult-to-induce neutralizing antibodies (2F5 and 4E10) that target gp41 membrane-proximal epitopes (MPER) are polyspecific and require lipid binding for HIV-1 neutralization. These results raise the questions of how prevalent polyreactivity is among gp41 antibodies and how the binding properties of gp41-nonneutralizing antibodies differ from those of antibodies that are broadly neutralizing. In this study, we have characterized a panel of human gp41 antibodies with binding specificities within the immunodominant cluster I (gp41 amino acids [aa] 579 to 613) or cluster II (gp41 aa 644 to 667) for reactivity to autoantigens, to the gp140 protein, and with MPER peptide-lipid conjugates. We report that while none of the gp41 cluster I antibodies studied were polyspecific, all three gp41 cluster II antibodies bound either to lipids or autoantigens, thus showing the propensity of cluster II antibodies to manifest polyreactivity. All cluster II gp41 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), including those that were lipid reactive, failed to bind to gp41 MPER peptide-lipid complexes. Cluster II antibodies bound strongly with nanomolar binding affinity (dissociation constant [Kd]) to oligomeric gp140 proteins, and thus, they recognize conformational epitopes on gp41 that are distinct from those of neutralizing gp41 antibodies. These results demonstrate that lipid-reactive gp41 cluster II antibodies are nonneutralizing due to their inability to bind to the relevant neutralizing epitopes on gp41.
Bacterial lipopolysaccharide (endotoxin) is a frequent contaminant of biological specimens and is also known to be a potent inducer of β-chemokines and other soluble factors that inhibit HIV-1 infection in vitro. Though lipopolysaccharide (LPS) has been shown to stimulate the production of soluble HIV-1 inhibitors in cultures of monocyte-derived macrophages, the ability of LPS to induce similar inhibitors in other cell types is poorly characterized. Here we show that LPS exhibits potent anti-HIV activity in phytohemagglutinin-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) but has no detectable anti-HIV-1 activity in TZM-bl cells. The anti-HIV-1 activity of LPS in PBMCs was strongly associated with the production of β-chemokines from CD14-positive monocytes. Culture supernatants from LPS-stimulated PBMCs exhibited potent anti-HIV-1 activity when added to TZM-bl cells but, in this case, the antiviral activity appeared to be related to IFN-γ rather than to β-chemokines. These observations indicate that LPS stimulates PBMCs to produce a complex array of soluble HIV-1 inhibitors, including β-chemokines and IFN-γ, that differentially inhibit HIV-1 depending on the target cell type. The results also highlight the need to use endotoxin-free specimens to avoid artifacts when assessing HIV-1-specific neutralizing antibodies in PBMC-based assays.
Traditional antibody-mediated neutralization of HIV-1 infection is thought to result from the binding of antibodies to virions, thus preventing virus entry. However, antibodies that broadly neutralize HIV-1 are rare and are not induced by current vaccines. We report that four human anti-phospholipid monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) (PGN632, P1, IS4, and CL1) inhibit HIV-1 CCR5-tropic (R5) primary isolate infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with 80% inhibitory concentrations of <0.02 to ∼10 µg/ml. Anti-phospholipid mAbs inhibited PBMC HIV-1 infection in vitro by mechanisms involving binding to monocytes and triggering the release of MIP-1α and MIP-1β. The release of these β-chemokines explains both the specificity for R5 HIV-1 and the activity of these mAbs in PBMC cultures containing both primary lymphocytes and monocytes.
The extensive glycosylation of HIV-1 envelope proteins (Env), gp120/gp41, is known to play an important role in evasion of host immune response by masking key neutralization epitopes and presenting the Env glycosylation as “self” to the host immune system. The Env glycosylation is mostly conserved but continues to evolve to modulate viral infectivity. Thus, profiling Env glycosylation and distinguishing interclade and intraclade glycosylation variations are necessary components in unraveling the effects of glycosylation on Env’s immunogenicity. Here, we describe a mass spectrometry-based approach to characterize the glycosylation profiles of two rVV-expressed clade C Envs by identifying the glycan motifs on each glycosylation site and determining the degree of glycosylation site occupancy. One Env is a wild-type Env, while the other is a synthetic “consensus” sequence (C.CON). The observed differences in the glycosylation profiles between the two clade C Envs show that C.CON has more unutilized sites and high levels of high mannose glycans; these features mimic the glycosylation profile of a Group M consensus immunogen, CON-S. Our results also reveal a clade-specific glycosylation pattern. Discerning interclade and intraclade glycosylation variations could provide valuable information in understanding the molecular differences among the different HIV-1 clades and in designing new Env-based immunogens.
HIV; envelope glycoprotein; glycosylation; vaccine; mass spectrometry
An effective HIV vaccine must elicit immune responses that recognize genetically diverse viruses1, 2. It must generate CD8+ T lymphocytes that control HIV replication and CD4+ T lymphocytes that provide help for the generation and maintenance of both cellular and humoral immune responses against the virus3–5. Creating immunogens that can elicit cellular immune responses against the genetically varied circulating isolates of HIV presents an important challenge for creating an AIDS vaccine6, 7. Polyvalent mosaic immunogens derived by in silico recombination of natural strains of HIV are designed to induce cellular immune responses that recognize genetically diverse circulating virus isolates8. In the present study we immunized rhesus monkeys by plasmid DNA prime/ recombinant vaccinia virus boost using vaccine constructs expressing either consensus or polyvalent mosaic proteins. The mosaic immunogens elicited CD8+ T lymphocyte responses to more epitopes of each viral protein than the consensus immunogens, and to more variant sequences of CD8+ T lymphocyte epitopes. This increased breadth and depth of epitope recognition may contribute both to protection against infection by genetically diverse viruses and to the control of variant viruses that emerge as they mutate away from recognition by cytotoxic T lymphocytes.
Defining human B cell repertoires to viral pathogens is critical for design of vaccines that induce broadly protective antibodies to infections such as HIV-1 and influenza. Single B cell sorting and cloning of immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy- and light-chain variable regions (VH and VL) is a powerful technology for defining anti-viral B cell repertoires. However, the Ig-cloning step is time-consuming and prevents high-throughput analysis of the B cell repertoire. Novel linear Ig heavy- and light-chain gene expression cassettes were designed to express Ig VH and VL genes isolated from sorted single B cells as IgG1 antibody without a cloning step. The cassettes contain all essential elements for transcriptional and translational regulation, including CMV promoter, Ig leader sequences, constant region of IgG1 heavy- or Ig light-chain, poly(A) tail and substitutable VH or VL genes. The utility of these Ig gene expression cassettes was established using synthetic VH or VL genes from an anti-HIV-1 gp41 mAb 2F5 as a model system, and validated further using VH and VL genes isolated from cloned EBV-transformed antibody-producing cell lines. Finally, this strategy was successfully used for rapid production of recombinant influenza mAbs from sorted single human plasmablasts after influenza vaccination. These Ig gene expression cassettes constitute a highly efficient strategy for rapid expression of Ig genes for high-throughput screening and analysis without cloning.
Monoclonal antibody; single B cells; immunoglobulin gene; RT-PCR; linear gene expression cassette