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2.  Prevalence of broadly neutralizing antibody responses during chronic HIV-1 infection 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(2):163-169.
Studies of neutralizing antibodies in HIV-1 infected individuals provide insights into the quality of the response that should be possible to elicit with vaccines and ways to design effective immunogens. Some individuals make high titres of exceptional broadly reactive neutralizing antibodies that are of particular interest; however, more modest responses may be a reasonable goal for vaccines. We performed a large cross-sectional study to determine the spectrum of neutralization potency and breadth that is seen during chronic HIV-1 infection.
Neutralization potency and breadth were assessed with genetically and geographically diverse panels of 205 chronic HIV-1 sera and 219 Env-pseudotyped viruses representing all major genetic subtypes of HIV-1.
Neutralization was measured by using Tat-regulated luciferase reporter gene expression in TZM-bl cells. Serum-neutralizing activity was compared with a diverse set of human mAbs that are widely considered to be broadly neutralizing.
We observed a uniform continuum of responses, with most sera displaying some level of cross-neutralization, and approximately 50% of sera neutralizing more than 50% of viruses. Titres of neutralization (potency) were highly correlated with breadth. Many sera had breadth comparable to several of the less potent broadly neutralizing human mAbs.
These results help clarify the spectrum of serum-neutralizing activity induced by HIV-1 infection and that should be possible to elicit with vaccines. Importantly, most people appear capable of making low to moderate titres of broadly neutralizing antibodies. Additional studies of these relatively common responses might provide insights for practical and feasible vaccine designs.
PMCID: PMC4042313  PMID: 24361678
HIV-1; immunity; neutralizing antibodies; serum; vaccines
3.  Global Panel of HIV-1 Env Reference Strains for Standardized Assessments of Vaccine-Elicited Neutralizing Antibodies 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(5):2489-2507.
Standardized assessments of HIV-1 vaccine-elicited neutralizing antibody responses are complicated by the genetic and antigenic variability of the viral envelope glycoproteins (Envs). To address these issues, suitable reference strains are needed that are representative of the global epidemic. Several panels have been recommended previously, but no clear answers have been available on how many and which strains are best suited for this purpose. We used a statistical model selection method to identify a global panel of reference Env clones from among 219 Env-pseudotyped viruses assayed in TZM-bl cells with sera from 205 HIV-1-infected individuals. The Envs and sera were sampled globally from diverse geographic locations and represented all major genetic subtypes and circulating recombinant forms of the virus. Assays with a panel size of only nine viruses adequately represented the spectrum of HIV-1 serum neutralizing activity seen with the larger panel of 219 viruses. An optimal panel of nine viruses was selected and augmented with three additional viruses for greater genetic and antigenic coverage. The spectrum of HIV-1 serum neutralizing activity seen with the final 12-virus panel closely approximated the activity seen with subtype-matched viruses. Moreover, the final panel was highly sensitive for detection of many of the known broadly neutralizing antibodies. For broader assay applications, all 12 Env clones were converted to infectious molecular clones using a proviral backbone carrying a Renilla luciferase reporter gene (Env.IMC.LucR viruses). This global panel should facilitate highly standardized assessments of vaccine-elicited neutralizing antibodies across multiple HIV-1 vaccine platforms in different parts of the world.
IMPORTANCE An effective HIV-1 vaccine will need to overcome the extraordinary genetic variability of the virus, where most variation occurs in the viral envelope glycoproteins that are the sole targets for neutralizing antibodies. Efforts to elicit broadly cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies that will protect against infection by most circulating strains of the virus are guided in part by in vitro assays that determine the ability of vaccine-elicited antibodies to neutralize genetically diverse HIV-1 variants. Until now, little information was available on how many and which strains of the virus are best suited for this purpose. We applied robust statistical methods to evaluate a large neutralization data set and identified a small panel of viruses that are a good representation of the global epidemic. The neutralization properties of this new panel of reference strains should facilitate the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3958090  PMID: 24352443
4.  Transmitted/Founder Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Envelope Sequences in Vesicular Stomatitis and Semliki Forest Virus Vector Immunized Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109678.
Identification of transmitted/founder simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) envelope sequences responsible for infection may prove critical for understanding HIV/SIV mucosal transmission. We used single genome amplification and phylogenetic analyses to characterize transmitted/founder SIVs both in the inoculum and in immunized-infected rhesus monkeys. Single genome amplification of the SIVsmE660 inoculum revealed a maximum diversity of 1.4%. We also noted that the consensus sequence of the challenge stock differed from the vaccine construct in 10 amino acids including 3 changes in the V4 loop. Viral env was prepared from rhesus plasma in 3 groups of 6 immunized with vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) vectors and boosted with Semliki forest virus (SFV) replicons expressing (a) SIVsmE660 gag-env (b) SIVsmE660 gag-env plus rhesus GM-CSF and (c) control influenza hemagglutinin protein. Macaques were immunized twice with VSV-vectors and once with SFV vector and challenged intrarectally with 4000 TCID50. Single genome amplification characterized the infections of 2 unprotected animals in the gag-env immunized group, both of which had reduced acute plasma viral loads that ended as transient infections indicating partial immune control. Four of 6 rhesus were infected in the gag-env + GM-CSF group which demonstrated that GM-CSF abrogated protection. All 6 animals from the control group were infected having high plasma viral loads. We obtained 246 full-length envelope sequences from SIVsmE660 infected macaques at the peak of infection and determined the number of transmitted/founder variants per animal. Our analysis found that 2 of 2 gag-env vaccinated but infected macaques exhibited single but distinct virus envelope lineages whereas rhesus vaccinated with gag-env-GM-CSF or HA control exhibited both single and multiple env lineages. Because there were only 2 infected animals in the gag-env vaccinated rhesus compared to 10 infected rhesus in the other 2 groups, the significance of finding single env variants in the gag-env vaccinated group could not be established.
PMCID: PMC4215841  PMID: 25360552
5.  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
6.  A computational framework for the analysis of peptide microarray antibody binding data with application to HIV vaccine profiling 
We present an integrated analytical method for analyzing peptide microarray antibody binding data, from normalization through subject-specific positivity calls and data integration and visualization. Current techniques for the normalization of such data sets do not account for non-specific binding activity. A novel normalization technique based on peptide sequence information quickly and effectively reduced systematic biases. We also employed a sliding mean window technique that borrows strength from peptides sharing similar sequences, resulting in reduced signal variability. A smoothed signal aided in the detection of weak antibody binding hotspots. A new principled FDR method of setting positivity thresholds struck a balance between sensitivity and specificity. In addition, we demonstrate the utility and importance of using baseline control measurements when making subject-specific positivity calls. Data sets from two human clinical trials of candidate HIV-1 vaccines were used to validate the effectiveness of our overall computational framework.
PMCID: PMC3999921  PMID: 23770318
Peptide microarrays; Antibodies; Normalization; Positivity calls; Software; Visualization
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  Effects of Cellular Activation on Anti-HIV-1 Restriction Factor Expression Profile in Primary Cells 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(21):11924-11929.
Expression of cell-intrinsic antiviral factors suppresses HIV-1 replication. We hypothesized that cellular activation modulates host restriction and susceptibility to HIV-1 infection. We measured the gene expression of 34 antiviral factors in healthy peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Cellular activation induced expression of interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15), tripartite motif 5α (TRIM5α), bone marrow stromal cell antigen 2 (BST-2)/tetherin, and certain apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme 3 (APOBEC3) family members. Expression of RTF1, RNA polymerase II-associated factor 1 (PAF1), TRIM11, TRIM26, and BST-2/tetherin correlated with decreased HIV-1 infectivity. This report demonstrates synchronous effects of activation-induced antiviral genes on HIV-1 infectivity, providing candidates for pharmacological manipulation.
PMCID: PMC3807358  PMID: 23966394
11.  Immunological and Virological Mechanisms of Vaccine-Mediated Protection Against SIV and HIV 
Nature  2013;505(7484):502-508.
A major challenge for the development of a highly effective AIDS vaccine is the identification of mechanisms of protective immunity. To address this question, we used a non-human primate challenge model with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). We show that antibodies to the SIV Envelope are necessary and sufficient to prevent infection. Moreover, sequencing of viruses from breakthrough infections revealed selective pressure against neutralization-sensitive viruses; we identified a two amino acid signature that alters antigenicity and confers neutralization resistance. A similar signature confers resistance of HIV-1 to neutralization by monoclonal antibodies against variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2), suggesting that SIV and HIV share a fundamental mechanism of immune escape from vaccine- or naturally-elicited antibodies. These analyses provide insight into the limited efficacy seen in HIV vaccine trials.
PMCID: PMC3946913  PMID: 24352234
12.  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
13.  Activity of and Effect of Subcutaneous Treatment with the Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Lectin Griffithsin in Two Laboratory Rodent Models 
Griffithsin (GRFT) is a red-alga-derived lectin that binds the terminal mannose residues of N-linked glycans found on the surface of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), HIV-2, and other enveloped viruses, including hepatitis C virus (HCV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and Ebola virus. GRFT displays no human T-cell mitogenic activity and does not induce production of proinflammatory cytokines in treated human cell lines. However, despite the growing evidence showing the broad-spectrum nanomolar or better antiviral activity of GRFT, no study has reported a comprehensive assessment of GRFT safety as a potential systemic antiviral treatment. The results presented in this work show that minimal toxicity was induced by a range of single and repeated daily subcutaneous doses of GRFT in two rodent species, although we noted treatment-associated increases in spleen and liver mass suggestive of an antidrug immune response. The drug is systemically distributed, accumulating to high levels in the serum and plasma after subcutaneous delivery. Further, we showed that serum from GRFT-treated animals retained antiviral activity against HIV-1-enveloped pseudoviruses in a cell-based neutralization assay. Overall, our data presented here show that GRFT accumulates to relevant therapeutic concentrations which are tolerated with minimal toxicity. These studies support further development of GRFT as a systemic antiviral therapeutic agent against enveloped viruses, although deimmunizing the molecule may be necessary if it is to be used in long-term treatment of chronic viral infections.
PMCID: PMC3910741  PMID: 24145548
14.  Resistance to Infection, Early and Persistent Suppression of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIVmac251 Viremia, and Significant Reduction of Tissue Viral Burden after Mucosal Vaccination in Female Rhesus Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(1):212-224.
The efficacy of oral, intestinal, nasal, and vaginal vaccinations with DNA simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/interleukin-2 (IL-2)/IL-15, SIV Gag/Pol/Env recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (rMVA), and AT-2 SIVmac239 inactivated particles was compared in rhesus macaques after low-dose vaginal challenge with SIVmac251. Intestinal immunization provided better protection from infection, as a significantly greater median number of challenges was necessary in this group than in the others. Oral and nasal vaccinations provided the most significant control of disease progression. Fifty percent of the orally and nasally vaccinated animals suppressed viremia to undetectable levels, while this occurred to a significantly lower degree in intestinally and vaginally vaccinated animals and in controls. Viremia remained undetectable after CD8+ T-cell depletion in seven vaccinated animals that had suppressed viremia after infection, and tissue analysis for SIV DNA and RNA was negative, a result consistent with a significant reduction of viral activity. Regardless of the route of vaccination, mucosal vaccinations prevented loss of CD4+ central memory and CD4+/α4β7+ T-cell populations and reduced immune activation to different degrees. None of the orally vaccinated animals and only one of the nasally vaccinated animals developed AIDS after 72 to 84 weeks of infection, when the trial was closed. The levels of anti-SIV gamma interferon-positive, CD4+, and CD8+ T cells at the time of first challenge inversely correlated with viremia and directly correlated with protection from infection and longer survival.
PMCID: PMC3911749  PMID: 24155376
15.  Antibody-Dependent, FcγRI-Mediated Neutralization of HIV-1 in TZM-bl Cells Occurs Independently of Phagocytosis 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(9):5287-5290.
We previously showed that expression of human FcγRI on TZM-bl cells potentiates neutralization by gp41 membrane-proximal external region (MPER)-specific antibodies. Here we show that lysosomotropic reagents known to block phagocytosis do not diminish this effect. We also show that FcγRI occasionally potentiates neutralization by antibodies against the V3 loop of gp120 and cluster I of gp41. We conclude that FcγRI provides a kinetic advantage for neutralizing antibodies against partially cryptic epitopes independent of phagocytosis.
PMCID: PMC3624318  PMID: 23408628
16.  Impact of antibody quality and anamnestic response on viremia control post-challenge in a combined Tat/Env vaccine regimen in rhesus macaques 
Virology  2013;440(2):210-221.
Previously, priming rhesus macaques with Adenovirus type 5 host range mutant-recombinants encoding Tat and Env and boosting with Tat and Env protein in MPL-SE controlled chronic viremia by 4 logs following homologous intravenous SHIV89.6P challenge. Here we evaluated Tat, Env, and Tat/Env regimens for immunogenicity and protective efficacy using clade C Env, alum adjuvant, and a heterologous intrarectal SHIV1157ipd3N4 challenge. Despite induction of strong cellular and humoral immunity, Tat/Env group T and B-cell memory responses were not significantly enhanced over Tat- or Env-only groups. Lack of viremia control post-challenge was attributed to lower avidity Env antibodies and no anamnestic ADCC response or SHIV1157ipd3N4 neutralizing antibody development post-challenge. Poor biologic activity of the Tat immunogen may have impaired Tat immunity. In the absence of sterilizing immunity, strong anamnestic responses to heterologous virus can help control viremia. Both antibody breadth and optimal adjuvanticity are needed to elicit high-quality antibody for protective efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3744165  PMID: 23528732
HIV vaccine; HIV Tat; HIV Envelope; Rhesus macaque; SHIV challenge; ADCC
17.  Robust Neutralizing Antibodies Elicited by HIV-1 JRFL Envelope Glycoprotein Trimers in Nonhuman Primates 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(24):13239-13251.
Host cell-mediated proteolytic cleavage of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp160 precursor glycoprotein into gp120 and gp41 subunits is required to generate fusion-competent envelope glycoprotein (Env) spikes. The gp120-directed broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (bNabs) isolated from HIV-infected individuals efficiently recognize fully cleaved JRFL Env spikes; however, nonneutralizing gp120-directed monoclonal antibodies isolated from infected or vaccinated subjects recognize only uncleaved JRFL spikes. Therefore, as an immunogen, cleaved spikes that selectively present desired neutralizing epitopes to B cells may elicit cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies. Accordingly, we inoculated nonhuman primates (NHPs) with plasmid DNA encoding transmembrane-anchored, cleaved JRFL Env or by electroporation (EP). Priming with DNA expressing soluble, uncleaved gp140 trimers was included as a comparative experimental group of NHPs. DNA inoculation was followed by boosts with soluble JRFL gp140 trimers, and control NHPs were inoculated with soluble JRFL protein trimers without DNA priming. In the TZM-bl assay, elicitation of neutralizing antibodies against HIV-1 tier 1 isolates was robust following the protein boost. Neutralization of tier 2 isolates was detected, but only in animals primed with plasmid DNA and boosted with trimeric protein. Using the more sensitive A3R5 assay, consistent neutralization of both clade B and C tier 2 isolates was detected from all regimens assessed in the current study, exceeding levels achieved by our previous vaccine regimens in primates. Together, these data suggest a potential advantage of B cell priming followed by a rest interval and protein boosting to present JRFL Env spikes to the immune system to better generate HIV-1 cross-clade neutralizing antibodies.
PMCID: PMC3838230  PMID: 24067980
18.  Efficacy Trial of a DNA/rAd5 HIV-1 Preventive Vaccine 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(22):2083-2092.
A safe and effective vaccine for the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is a global priority. We tested the efficacy of a DNA prime–recombinant adenovirus type 5 boost (DNA/rAd5) vaccine regimen in persons at increased risk for HIV-1 infection in the United States.
At 21 sites, we randomly assigned 2504 men or transgender women who have sex with men to receive the DNA/rAd5 vaccine (1253 participants) or placebo (1251 participants). We assessed HIV-1 acquisition from week 28 through month 24 (termed week 28+ infection), viral-load set point (mean plasma HIV-1 RNA level 10 to 20 weeks after diagnosis), and safety. The 6-plasmid DNA vaccine (expressing clade B Gag, Pol, and Nef and Env proteins from clades A, B, and C) was administered at weeks 0, 4, and 8. The rAd5 vector boost (expressing clade B Gag-Pol fusion protein and Env glycoproteins from clades A, B, and C) was administered at week 24.
In April 2013, the data and safety monitoring board recommended halting vaccinations for lack of efficacy. The primary analysis showed that week 28+ infection had been diagnosed in 27 participants in the vaccine group and 21 in the placebo group (vaccine efficacy, −25.0%; 95% confidence interval, −121.2 to 29.3; P = 0.44), with mean viral-load set points of 4.46 and 4.47 HIV-1 RNA log10 copies per milliliter, respectively. Analysis of all infections during the study period (41 in the vaccine group and 31 in the placebo group) also showed lack of vaccine efficacy (P = 0.28). The vaccine regimen had an acceptable side-effect profile.
The DNA/rAd5 vaccine regimen did not reduce either the rate of HIV-1 acquisition or the viral-load set point in the population studied. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; number, NCT00865566.)
PMCID: PMC4030634  PMID: 24099601
19.  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
20.  DNA and Protein Co-Immunization Improves the Magnitude and Longevity of Humoral Immune Responses in Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91550.
We tested the concept of combining DNA with protein to improve anti-HIV Env systemic and mucosal humoral immune responses. Rhesus macaques were vaccinated with DNA, DNA&protein co-immunization or DNA prime followed by protein boost, and the magnitude and mucosal dissemination of the antibody responses were monitored in both plasma and mucosal secretions. We achieved induction of robust humoral responses by optimized DNA vaccination delivered by in vivo electroporation. These responses were greatly increased upon administration of a protein boost. Importantly, a co-immunization regimen of DNA&protein injected in the same muscle at the same time induced the highest systemic binding and neutralizing antibodies to homologous or heterologous Env as well as the highest Env-specific IgG in saliva. Inclusion of protein in the vaccine resulted in more immunized animals with Env-specific IgG in rectal fluids. Inclusion of DNA in the vaccine significantly increased the longevity of systemic humoral immune responses, whereas protein immunization, either as the only vaccine component or as boost after DNA prime, was followed by a great decline of humoral immune responses overtime. We conclude that DNA&protein co-delivery in a simple vaccine regimen combines the strength of each vaccine component, resulting in improved magnitude, extended longevity and increased mucosal dissemination of the induced antibodies in immunized rhesus macaques.
PMCID: PMC3953433  PMID: 24626482
21.  An autoreactive antibody from an SLE/HIV-1 individual broadly neutralizes HIV-1 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(4):1835-1843.
Broadly HIV-1–neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs) display one or more unusual traits, including a long heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 (HCDR3), polyreactivity, and high levels of somatic mutations. These shared characteristics suggest that BnAb development might be limited by immune tolerance controls. It has been postulated that HIV-1–infected individuals with autoimmune disease and defective immune tolerance mechanisms may produce BnAbs more readily than those without autoimmune diseases. In this study, we identified an HIV-1–infected individual with SLE who exhibited controlled viral load (<5,000 copies/ml) in the absence of controlling HLA phenotypes and developed plasma HIV-1 neutralization breadth. We collected memory B cells from this individual and isolated a BnAb, CH98, that targets the CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein 120 (gp120). CH98 bound to human antigens including dsDNA, which is specifically associated with SLE. Anti-dsDNA reactivity was also present in the patient’s plasma. CH98 had a mutation frequency of 25% and 15% nt somatic mutations in the heavy and light chain variable domains, respectively, a long HCDR3, and a deletion in the light chain CDR1. The occurrence of anti-dsDNA reactivity by a HIV-1 CD4bs BnAb in an individual with SLE raises the possibility that some BnAbs and SLE-associated autoantibodies arise from similar pools of B cells.
PMCID: PMC3973118  PMID: 24614107
22.  Molecular identification, cloning and characterization of transmitted/founder HIV-1 subtype A, D and A/D infectious molecular clones 
Virology  2012;436(1):33-48.
We report the molecular identification, cloning and initial biological characterization of 12 full-length HIV-1 subtype A, D and A/D recombinant transmitted/founder (T/F) genomes. T/F genomes contained intact canonical open reading frames and all T/F viruses were replication competent in primary human T-cells, although subtype D virus replication was more efficient (p<0.05). All 12 viruses utilized CCR5 but not CXCR4 as a co-receptor for entry and exhibited a neutralization profile typical of tier 2 primary virus strains, with significant differences observed between subtype A and D viruses with respect to sensitivity to monoclonal antibodies VRC01, PG9 and PG16 and polyclonal subtype C anti-HIV IgG (p<0.05 for each). The present report doubles the number of T/F HIV-1 clones available for pathogenesis and vaccine research and extends their representation to include subtypes A, B, C and D.
PMCID: PMC3545109  PMID: 23123038
HIV-1; transmitted/founder virus; single genome sequencing; HIV-1 transmission; HIV-1 subtype A; HIV-1 subtype D; neutralizing antibodies
23.  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
24.  Correction: Comparative Immunogenicity of HIV-1 gp160, gp140 and gp120 Expressed by Live Attenuated Newcastle Disease Virus Vector 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/670112f8-b4fd-4622-8a8c-203dc647f807.
PMCID: PMC3906168
25.  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

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