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1.  Vaccine Induction of Antibodies Against a Structurally Heterogeneous Site of Immune Pressure within HIV-1 Envelope Protein Variable Regions 1 and 2 
Immunity  2013;38(1):176-186.
The RV144 HIV-1 trial of the canary pox vector (ALVAC-HIV) plus the gp120 AIDSVAX B/E vaccine demonstrated an estimated efficacy of 31%, that correlated directly with antibodies to HIV-1 envelope variable regions 1 and 2 (V1–V2). Genetic analysis of trial viruses revealed increased vaccine efficacy against viruses matching the vaccine strain at V2 residue 169. Here, we isolated four V2 monoclonal antibodies from RV144 vaccinees that recognize residue 169, neutralize laboratory-adapted HIV-1, and mediate killing of field isolate HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cells. Crystal structures of two of the V2 antibodies demonstrated residue 169 can exist within divergent helical and loop conformations, which contrasted dramatically with the beta strand conformation previously observed with a broadly neutralizing antibody PG9. Thus, RV144 vaccine-induced immune pressure appears to target a region that may be both sequence variable and structurally polymorphic. Variation may signal sites of HIV-1 envelope vulnerability, providing vaccine designers with new options.
PMCID: PMC3569735  PMID: 23313589
2.  Antigenicity and Immunogenicity of Transmitted/Founder, Consensus, and Chronic Envelope Glycoproteins of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(8):4185-4201.
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.
PMCID: PMC3624376  PMID: 23365441
3.  Initial antibodies binding to HIV-1 gp41 in acutely infected subjects are polyreactive and highly mutated 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2011;208(11):2237-2249.
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.
PMCID: PMC3201211  PMID: 21987658
4.  High-throughput isolation of immunoglobulin genes from single human B cells and expression as monoclonal antibodies 
Journal of virological methods  2009;158(1-2):171-179.
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.
PMCID: PMC2805188  PMID: 19428587
Monoclonal antibody; single B cells; immunoglobulin gene; RT-PCR; linear gene expression cassette
5.  Induction of Antibodies in Guinea Pigs and Rhesus Monkeys against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope: Neutralization of Nonpathogenic and Pathogenic Primary Isolate Simian/Human Immunodeficiency Virus Strains 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(1):254-263.
We have compared the abilities of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope V3 peptides and recombinant gp120 to induce antibodies that neutralize simian/human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIVs). SHIV-89.6 is a nonpathogenic SHIV that expresses the envelope protein of primary HIV-1 isolate 89.6. SHIV-89.6P, clone KB9, is a pathogenic SHIV variant derived from SHIV-89.6. Infection of rhesus monkeys with these SHIVs rarely induces anti-V3 region antibodies. To determine the availability of the gp120 V3 loop for neutralizing antibody binding on SHIV-89.6 and KB9 virions, we have constructed immunogenic C4-V3 peptides from these SHIVs and induced anti-V3 antibodies in guinea pigs and rhesus monkeys. We found that both SHIV-89.6 and KB9 C4-V3 peptides induced antibodies that neutralized SHIV-89.6 but that only SHIV-KB9 C4-V3 peptide induced antibodies that neutralized SHIV-KB9. Immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that SHIV-KB9 C4-V3 peptide-induced antibodies had a greater ability to bind SHIV-KB9 envelope proteins than did antibodies raised against SHIV-89.6 C4-V3 peptide. We have used a series of mutant HIV-1 envelope constructs to map the gp120 determinants that affect neutralization by anti-V3 antibodies. The residue change at position 305 of arginine (in SHIV-89.6) to glutamic acid (in SHIV-KB9) played a central role in determining the ability of peptide-induced anti-V3 antiserum to neutralize primary isolate SHIVs. Moreover, residue changes in the SHIV-89.6 V1/V2 loops also played roles in regulating the availability of the V3 neutralizing epitope on SHIV-89.6 and -KB9. Thus, SHIV-89.6 and -KB9 V3 region peptides are capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies against these primary isolate SHIVs, although the pathogenic SHIV-KB9 is less easily neutralized than its nonpathogenic variant SHIV-89.6. In contrast to natural infection with SHIV-89.6, in which few animals make anti-V3 antibodies, C4-V3 peptides frequently induced anti-V3 antibodies that neutralized primary isolate SHIV strains.
PMCID: PMC111535  PMID: 10590113
6.  Cooperation of B Cell Lineages in Induction of HIV-1-Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies 
Cell  2014;158(3):481-491.
Development of strategies for induction of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) by vaccines is a priority. Determining the steps of bnAb induction in HIV-1-infected individuals who make bnAbs is a key strategy for immunogen design. Here we study the B cell response in a bnAb-producing individual, and report cooperation between two B cell lineages to drive bnAb development. We isolated an autologous virus-neutralizing antibody lineage that targeted an envelope region (loop D) and selected virus escape mutants that resulted in both enhanced bnAb lineage envelope binding and escape mutant neutralization—traits associated with increased B cell antigen drive. Thus, in this individual, two B cell lineages cooperated to induce the development of bnAbs. Design of vaccine immunogens that simultaneously drive both autologous and broadly neutralizing B cell lineages may be important for vaccine-induced recapitulation of events that transpire during the maturation of neutralizing antibodies in HIV-1-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC4150607  PMID: 25065977
7.  Human responses to influenza vaccination show seroconversion signatures and convergent antibody rearrangements 
Cell host & microbe  2014;16(1):105-114.
B cells produce a diverse antibody repertoire by undergoing gene rearrangements. Pathogen exposure induces the clonal expansion of B cells expressing antibodies that can bind the infectious agent. To assess human B cell responses to trivalent seasonal influenza and monovalent pandemic H1N1 vaccination, we sequenced gene rearrangements encoding the immunoglobulin heavy chain, a major determinant of epitope recognition. The magnitude of B cell clonal expansions correlates with an individual’s secreted antibody response to the vaccine and the expanded clones are enriched for those expressing influenza-specific mAbs. Additionally, B cell responses to pandemic influenza H1N1 vaccination and infection in different people show a prominent family of convergent antibody heavy chain gene rearrangements specific to influenza antigens. These results indicate that microbes can induce specific signatures of immunoglobulin gene rearrangements and that pathogen exposure can potentially be assessed from B cell repertoires.
PMCID: PMC4158033  PMID: 24981332
8.  Progress in HIV-1 Vaccine Development 
The past two years have seen a number of basic and translational science advances in the quest for development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine. These advances include discovery of new envelope (Env) targets of potentially protective antibodies, demonstration that CD8+ T cells can control HIV-1 infection, development of immunogens to overcome HIV-1 T cell epitope diversity, identification of correlates of transmission risk in an HIV-1 efficacy trial, and mapping the co-evolution of HIV-1 founder Env mutants in infected individuals who develop bnAbs, thereby defining broad neutralizing antibody (bnAb) developmental pathways. Despite these advances, a promising HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trial published in 2013 failed to prevent infection, and the HIV-1 vaccine field is still years away from deployment of an effective vaccine. This review summarizes what some of the scientific advances have been, what roadblocks still remain, and what the most promising approaches are for progress in design of successful HIV-1 vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC4133697  PMID: 25117798
HIV-1; vaccine; T cells; B cells; broadly neutralizing antibodies
9.  Key mutations stabilize antigen-binding conformation during affinity maturation of a broadly neutralizing influenza antibody lineage 
Proteins  2015;83(4):771-780.
Affinity maturation, the process in which somatic hypermutation and positive selection generate antibodies with increasing affinity for an antigen, is pivotal in acquired humoral immunity. We have studied the mechanism of affinity gain in a human B-cell lineage in which two main maturation pathways, diverging from a common ancestor, lead to three mature antibodies that neutralize a broad range of H1 influenza viruses. Previous work showed that increased affinity in the mature antibodies derives primarily from stabilization of the CDR H3 loop in the antigen-binding conformation. We have now used molecular dynamics simulations and existing crystal structures to identify potentially key maturation mutations, and we have characterized their effects on the CDR H3 loop and on antigen binding using further simulations and experimental affinity measurements, respectively. In the two maturation pathways, different contacts between light and heavy chains stabilize the CDR H3 loop. As few as two single-site mutations in each pathway can confer substantial loop stability, but none of them confers experimentally detectable stability on its own. Our results support models of the germinal center reaction in which two or more mutations can occur without concomitant selection and show how divergent pathways have yielded functionally equivalent antibodies. Proteins 2014; 83:771–780. © 2014 The Authors. Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC4368477  PMID: 25524709
molecular dynamics; protein–protein interaction; kinetics measurements; protein evolution; acquired immunity
10.  Envelope Glycoprotein Binding to the Integrin α4β7 Is Not a General Property of Most HIV-1 Strains 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(18):10767-10777.
The HIV-1 surface glycoprotein gp120 has been reported to bind and signal through α4β7 by means of a tripeptide motif in the V2 loop that mimics structures present in the natural ligands for α4β7, suggesting that α4β7 may facilitate HIV-1 infection of CD4+ T cells in the gut. Furthermore, immune correlates in the RV144 vaccine efficacy trial generated the hypothesis that V1V2 antibodies to an epitope near the putative α4β7 binding motif may play a role in protection against HIV-1 infection. In the interest of developing an assay to detect antibodies that block gp120 binding to α4β7, we used retinoic acid (RA)-activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and transfected HEK293T (293T) cells expressing the integrin complex to study the α4β7 binding properties of 16 HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins. The natural ligand for α4β7, mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1 (MAdCAM-1), bound efficiently to RA-activated PBMCs and transfected 293T cells, and this binding was blocked by antibodies to α4. gp120 from multiple HIV-1 subtypes bound to RA-activated PBMCs from three donors in a CD4-dependent manner, but little or no α4β7 binding was detected. Similarly, little or no binding to α4β7 on transfected 293T cells was detected with multiple gp120s and gp140s, including gp120s from transmitted/founder strains, or when gp120 was produced in CHO, 293T, and 293S/GnT1−/− cells. Finally, we found no evidence that infectious HIV-1 virions produced in either PBMCs or 293T cells could bind α4β7 on transfected 293T cells. Infectious HIV-1 virions and most gp120s/gp140s appear to be poor ligands for the α4β7 integrin complex under the conditions tested here.
IMPORTANCE Certain HIV-1 gp120 envelope glycoproteins have been shown to bind the gut-homing receptor α4β7, and it has been suggested that this binding facilitates mucosal transmission and virus replication in the gut mucosa. Additional evidence has generated the hypothesis that antibodies that bind near the putative α4β7 binding motif in the V2 loop of gp120, possibly disrupting gp120-α4β7 binding, may be important for HIV-1 vaccines. Our evidence indicates that infectious HIV-1 virions and many gp120s lack detectable α4β7 binding activity, suggesting that this homing receptor may play a limited role in direct HIV-1 infection of cells.
PMCID: PMC4178844  PMID: 25008916
11.  HIV-specific humoral responses benefit from stronger prime in phase Ib clinical trial 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(11):4843-4856.
BACKGROUND. Vector prime-boost immunization strategies induce strong cellular and humoral immune responses. We examined the priming dose and administration order of heterologous vectors in HIV Vaccine Trials Network 078 (HVTN 078), a randomized, double-blind phase Ib clinical trial to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of heterologous prime-boost regimens, with a New York vaccinia HIV clade B (NYVAC-B) vaccine and a recombinant adenovirus 5–vectored (rAd5-vectored) vaccine.
METHODS. NYVAC-B included HIV-1 clade B Gag-Pol-Nef and gp120, while rAd5 included HIV-1 clade B Gag-Pol and clades A, B, and C gp140. Eighty Ad5-seronegative subjects were randomized to receive 2 × NYVAC-B followed by 1 × 1010 PFU rAd5 (NYVAC/Ad5hi); 1 × 108 PFU rAd5 followed by 2 × NYVAC-B (Ad5lo/NYVAC); 1 × 109 PFU rAd5 followed by 2 × NYVAC-B (Ad5med/NYVAC); 1 × 1010 PFU rAd5 followed by 2 × NYVAC-B (Ad5hi/NYVAC); or placebo. Immune responses were assessed 2 weeks after the final vaccination. Intracellular cytokine staining measured T cells producing IFN-γ and/or IL-2; cross-clade and epitope-specific binding antibodies were determined; and neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) were assessed with 6 tier 1 viruses.
RESULTS. CD4+ T cell response rates ranged from 42.9% to 93.3%. NYVAC/Ad5hi response rates (P ≤ 0.01) and magnitudes (P ≤ 0.03) were significantly lower than those of other groups. CD8+ T cell response rates ranged from 65.5% to 85.7%. NYVAC/Ad5hi magnitudes were significantly lower than those of other groups (P ≤ 0.04). IgG response rates to the group M consensus gp140 were 89.7% for NYVAC/Ad5hi and 21.4%, 84.6%, and 100% for Ad5lo/NYVAC, Ad5med/NYVAC, and Ad5hi/NYVAC, respectively, and were similar for other vaccine proteins. Overall nAb responses were low, but aggregate responses appeared stronger for Ad5med/NYVAC and Ad5hi/NYVAC than for NYVAC/Ad5hi.
CONCLUSIONS. rAd5 prime followed by NYVAC boost is superior to the reverse regimen for both vaccine-induced cellular and humoral immune responses. Higher Ad5 priming doses significantly increased binding and nAbs. These data provide a basis for optimizing the design of future clinical trials testing vector-based heterologous prime-boost strategies.
FUNDING. NIAID, NIH UM1AI068618, AI068635, AI068614, and AI069443.
PMCID: PMC4347219  PMID: 25271627
12.  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
13.  CD4-Mimetic Small Molecules Sensitize Human Immunodeficiency Virus to Vaccine-Elicited Antibodies 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(12):6542-6555.
Approaches to prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) transmission are urgently needed. Difficulties in eliciting antibodies that bind conserved epitopes exposed on the unliganded conformation of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer represent barriers to vaccine development. During HIV-1 entry, binding of the gp120 Env to the initial receptor, CD4, triggers conformational changes in Env that result in the formation and exposure of the highly conserved gp120 site for interaction with the coreceptors, CCR5 and CXCR4. The DMJ compounds (+)-DMJ-I-228 and (+)-DMJ-II-121 bind gp120 within the conserved Phe 43 cavity near the CD4-binding site, block CD4 binding, and inhibit HIV-1 infection. Here we show that the DMJ compounds sensitize primary HIV-1, including transmitted/founder viruses, to neutralization by monoclonal antibodies directed against CD4-induced (CD4i) epitopes and the V3 region, two gp120 elements involved in coreceptor binding. Importantly, the DMJ compounds rendered primary HIV-1 sensitive to neutralization by antisera elicited by immunization of rabbits with HIV-1 gp120 cores engineered to assume the CD4-bound state. Thus, small molecules like the DMJ compounds may be useful as microbicides to inhibit HIV-1 infection directly and to sensitize primary HIV-1 to neutralization by readily elicited antibodies.
IMPORTANCE Preventing HIV-1 transmission is a priority for global health. Eliciting antibodies that can neutralize many different strains of HIV-1 is difficult, creating problems for the development of a vaccine. We found that certain small-molecule compounds can sensitize HIV-1 to particular antibodies. These antibodies can be elicited in rabbits. These results suggest an approach to prevent HIV-1 sexual transmission in which a virus-sensitizing microbicide is combined with a vaccine.
PMCID: PMC4054336  PMID: 24696475
14.  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
15.  Chemical synthesis of highly congested gp120 V1V2 N-glycopeptide antigens for potential HIV-1–directed vaccines 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2013;135(35):10.1021/ja405990z.
Critical to the search for an effective HIV-1 vaccine is the development of immunogens capable of inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs). A key first step in this process is to design immunogens that can be recognized by known BnAbs. The monoclonal antibody PG9 is a BnAb that neutralizes diverse strains of HIV-1 by targeting a conserved carbohydrate-protein epitope in the variable 1 and 2 (V1V2) region of the viral envelope. Important for recognition are two closely spaced N-glycans at Asn160 and Asn156. Glycopeptides containing this synthetically challenging bis-N-glycosylated motif were prepared by convergent assembly, and were shown to be antigenic for PG9. Synthetic glycopeptides such as these may be useful for the development of HIV-1 vaccines based on the envelope V1V2 BnAb epitope.
PMCID: PMC3826081  PMID: 23915436
16.  Toll-Like Receptor 7/8 (TLR7/8) and TLR9 Agonists Cooperate To Enhance HIV-1 Envelope Antibody Responses in Rhesus Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(6):3329-3339.
The development of a vaccine that can induce high titers of functional antibodies against HIV-1 remains a high priority. We have developed an adjuvant based on an oil-in-water emulsion that incorporates Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands to test whether triggering multiple pathogen-associated molecular pattern receptors could enhance immunogenicity. Compared to single TLR agonists or other pairwise combinations, TLR7/8 and TLR9 agonists combined were able to elicit the highest titers of binding, neutralizing, and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity-mediating antibodies against the protein immunogen, transmitted/founder HIV-1 envelope gp140 (B.63521). We further found that the combination of TLR7/8 and TLR9 agonists was associated with the release of CXCL10 (IP-10), suggesting that this adjuvant formulation may have optimally stimulated innate and adaptive immunity to elicit high titers of antibodies.
IMPORTANCE Combining TLR agonists in an adjuvant formulation resulted in higher antibody levels compared to an adjuvant without TLR agonists. Adjuvants that combine TLR agonists may be useful for enhancing antibody responses to HIV-1 vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3957956  PMID: 24390332
17.  Induction of HIV-1 broad neutralizing antibodies in 2F5 knockin mice: selection against MPER-associated autoreactivity limits T-dependent responses 
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)  2013;191(5):10.4049/jimmunol.1300971.
A goal of HIV-1 vaccine development is to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs). Using a knock-in (KI) model of 2F5, a human HIV-1 gp41 MPER-specific BnAb, we previously demonstrated that a key obstacle to BnAb induction is clonal deletion of BnAb-expressing B-cells. Here, in this model, we provide a proof-of-principle that robust serum neutralizing IgG responses can be induced from pre-existing, residual self-reactive BnAb-expressing B-cells in vivo, using a structurally compatible gp41 MPER immunogen. Furthermore, in CD40L-deficient 2F5 KI mice, we demonstrate that these BnAb responses are elicited via a type II T-independent pathway, coinciding with expansion and activation of transitional splenic B-cells specific for 2F5's nominal gp41 MPER-binding epitope (containing the 2F5 neutralization domain ELDKWA). In contrast, constitutive production of non-neutralizing serum IgGs in 2F5 KI mice is T-dependent, and originates from a subset of splenic mature B2-cells that have lost their ability to bind 2F5's gp41 MPER epitope. These results suggest that residual, mature B-cells expressing autoreactive BnAbs like 2F5 as BCR, may be limited in their ability to participate in T-dependent responses, by purifying selection that selectively eliminates reactivity for neutralization epitope-containing/mimicked host antigens.
PMCID: PMC3870053  PMID: 23918977
18.  Optimization and qualification of a memory B-cell ELISpot for the detection of vaccine-induced memory responses in HIV vaccine trials 
Journal of immunological methods  2013;394(0):84-93.
Various aspects of the human immune system can be analyzed to determine the efficacy of a vaccine. We have developed a B-cell ELISpot to measure HIV-specific antibody-secreting B cells in the peripheral blood as a result of vaccination or natural infection. Our method includes stimulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells with interleukin-2 and a polyclonal activator, R848, to induce memory B cells to differentiate into antibody-secreting cells. Total immunoglobulin-secreting as well as antigen-specific B cells are then quantified. We have tested several HIV Env gp120 and gp140 proteins from different HIV subtypes, as well as a sensitive consensus group M Env gp140. Our findings indicate that the B-cell ELISpot provides a sensitive and specific tool to detect antigen-specific memory B-cell responses, and it is equally suited to detect antibody-secreting plasmablasts present in the circulation shortly after infection or vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3736720  PMID: 23707324
B-cell ELISpot; Antibody-secreting cells; Memory B-cell responses; Vaccine; HIV; Mucosal responses
19.  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
20.  HIV-1 Specific IgA Detected in Vaginal Secretions of HIV Uninfected Women Participating in a Microbicide Trial in Southern Africa Are Primarily Directed Toward gp120 and gp140 Specificities 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101863.
Many participants in microbicide trials remain uninfected despite ongoing exposure to HIV-1. Determining the emergence and nature of mucosal HIV-specific immune responses in such women is important, since these responses may contribute to protection and could provide insight for the rational design of HIV-1 vaccines.
Methods and Findings
We first conducted a pilot study to compare three sampling devices (Dacron swabs, flocked nylon swabs and Merocel sponges) for detection of HIV-1-specific IgG and IgA antibodies in vaginal secretions. IgG antibodies from HIV-1-positive women reacted broadly across the full panel of eight HIV-1 envelope (Env) antigens tested, whereas IgA antibodies only reacted to the gp41 subunit. No Env-reactive antibodies were detected in the HIV-negative women. The three sampling devices yielded equal HIV-1-specific antibody titers, as well as total IgG and IgA concentrations. We then tested vaginal Dacron swabs archived from 57 HIV seronegative women who participated in a microbicide efficacy trial in Southern Africa (HPTN 035). We detected vaginal IgA antibodies directed at HIV-1 Env gp120/gp140 in six of these women, and at gp41 in another three women, but did not detect Env-specific IgG antibodies in any women.
Vaginal secretions of HIV-1 infected women contained IgG reactivity to a broad range of Env antigens and IgA reactivity to gp41. In contrast, Env-binding antibodies in the vaginal secretions of HIV-1 uninfected women participating in the microbicide trial were restricted to the IgA subtype and were mostly directed at HIV-1 gp120/gp140.
PMCID: PMC4108330  PMID: 25054205
21.  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
23.  Neutralizing IgG at the Portal of Infection Mediates Protection against Vaginal Simian/Human Immunodeficiency Virus Challenge 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(21):11604-11616.
Neutralizing antibodies may have critical importance in immunity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. However, the amount of protective antibody needed at mucosal surfaces has not been fully established. Here, we evaluated systemic and mucosal pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) of 2F5 IgG and 2F5 Fab fragments with respect to protection against vaginal challenge with simian-human immunodeficiency virus-BaL in macaques. Antibody assessment demonstrated that 2F5 IgG was more potent than polymeric forms (IgM and IgA) across a range of cellular and tissue models. Vaginal challenge studies demonstrated a dose-dependent protection for 2F5 IgG and no protection with 2F5 Fab despite higher vaginal Fab levels at the time of challenge. Animals receiving 50 or 25 mg/kg of body weight 2F5 IgG were completely protected, while 3/5 animals receiving 5 mg/kg were protected. In the control animals, infection was established by a minimum of 1 to 4 transmitted/founder (T/F) variants, similar to natural human infection by this mucosal route; in the two infected animals that had received 5 mg 2F5 IgG, infection was established by a single T/F variant. Serum levels of 2F5 IgG were more predictive of sterilizing protection than measured vaginal levels. Fc-mediated antiviral activity did not appear to influence infection of primary target cells in cervical explants. However, PK studies highlighted the importance of the Fc portion in tissue biodistribution. Data presented in this study may be important in modeling serum levels of neutralizing antibodies that need to be achieved by either vaccination or passive infusion to prevent mucosal acquisition of HIV-1 infection in humans.
PMCID: PMC3807318  PMID: 23966410
24.  Capacity for Infectious HIV-1 Virion Capture Differs by Envelope Antibody Specificity 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(9):5165-5170.
Antibody capacity to recognize infectious virus is a prerequisite of many antiviral functions. We determined the infectious virion capture index (IVCI) of different antibody specificities. Whereas broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), except for an MPER bNAb, selectively captured infectious virions, non-bNAbs and mucosal human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-positive IgG captured subsets of both infectious and noninfectious virions. Infectious virion capture was additive with a mixture of antibodies, providing proof of concept for vaccine-induced antibodies that together have improved capacity to recognize infectious virions.
PMCID: PMC3993833  PMID: 24554654
25.  Lack of B Cell Dysfunction Is Associated with Functional, gp120-Dominant Antibody Responses in Breast Milk of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected African Green Monkeys 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(20):11121-11134.
The design of an effective vaccine to reduce the incidence of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) via breastfeeding will require identification of protective immune responses that block postnatal virus acquisition. Natural hosts of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) sustain nonpathogenic infection and rarely transmit the virus to their infants despite high milk virus RNA loads. This is in contrast to HIV-infected women and SIV-infected rhesus macaques (RhMs), nonnatural hosts which exhibit higher rates of postnatal virus transmission. In this study, we compared the systemic and mucosal B cell responses of lactating, SIV-infected African green monkeys (AGMs), a natural host species, to that of SIV-infected RhMs and HIV-infected women. AGMs did not demonstrate hypergammaglobulinemia or accumulate circulating memory B cells during chronic SIV infection. Moreover, the milk of SIV-infected AGMs contained higher proportions of naive B cells than RhMs. Interestingly, AGMs exhibited robust milk and plasma Env binding antibody responses that were one to two logs higher than those in RhMs and humans and demonstrated autologous neutralizing responses in milk at 1 year postinfection. Furthermore, the plasma and milk Env gp120-binding antibody responses were equivalent to or predominant over Env gp140-binding antibody responses in AGMs, in contrast to that in RhMs and humans. The strong gp120-specific, functional antibody responses in the milk of SIV-infected AGMs may contribute to the rarity of postnatal transmission observed in natural SIV hosts.
PMCID: PMC3807290  PMID: 23926338

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