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1.  Epitope Mapping of Conformational V2-specific Anti-HIV Human Monoclonal Antibodies Reveals an Immunodominant Site in V2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70859.
In the case-control study of the RV144 vaccine trial, the levels of antibodies to the V1V2 region of the gp120 envelope glycoprotein were found to correlate inversely with risk of HIV infection. This recent demonstration of the potential role of V1V2 as a vaccine target has catapulted this region into the focus of HIV-1 research. We previously described seven human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) derived from HIV-infected individuals that are directed against conformational epitopes in the V1V2 domain. In this study, using lysates of SF162 pseudoviruses carrying V1V2 mutations, we mapped the epitopes of these seven mAbs. All tested mAbs demonstrated a similar binding pattern in which three mutations (F176A, Y177T, and D180L) abrogated binding of at least six of the seven mAbs to ≤15% of SF162 wildtype binding. Binding of six or all of the mAbs was reduced to ≤50% of wildtype by single substitutions at seven positions (168, 180, 181, 183, 184, 191, and 193), while one change, V181I, increased the binding of all mAbs. When mapped onto a model of V2, our results suggest that the epitope of the conformational V2 mAbs is located mostly in the disordered region of the available crystal structure of V1V2, overlapping and surrounding the α4β7 binding site on V2.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070859
PMCID: PMC3726596  PMID: 23923028
2.  Sequence Analysis of the Dimerization Initiation Site of Concordant and Discordant Viral Variants Superinfecting HIV Type 1 Patients 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2011;27(11):1231-1235.
Abstract
For HIV recombination to occur, the RNAs from two infecting strains within a cell must dimerize at the dimerization initiation site (DIS). We examined the sequence identity at the DIS (697–731 bp, Hxb2 numbering engine) in patients superinfected with concordant HIV-1 strains and compared them to those with discordant strains. Viral RNA in sequential plasma from four subjects superinfected with subtype-discordant and two subjects superinfected with subtype-concordant HIV-1 strains was extracted, amplified (5′ LTR-early gag: 526–1200 bp, Hxb2 numbering engine), sequenced, and analyzed to determine their compatibility for dimerization in vivo. The concordant viruses infecting the two subjects exhibited identical sequences in the 35-bp-long DIS region while sequences from the discordant viruses revealed single nucleotide changes that were located in the DIS loop (715 bp), its flanking nucleotides (710 bp and 717 bp), and the DIS stem (719 bp). Evidence from in vitro experiments demonstrates that these in vivo changes identified can abolish dimerization and reduce recombination frequency. Therefore, these results revealing differences in the DIS of discordant strains versus the similarity noted for the concordant strains may contribute to the differences in the frequency of recombination in patients superinfected with such HIV-1 variants.
doi:10.1089/aid.2011.0010
PMCID: PMC3206772  PMID: 21453132
3.  Superinfection by Discordant Subtypes of HIV-1 Does Not Enhance the Neutralizing Antibody Response against Autologous Virus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38989.
Recent studies have demonstrated that both the potency and breadth of the humoral anti-HIV-1 immune response in generating neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) against heterologous viruses are significantly enhanced after superinfection by discordant HIV-1 subtypes, suggesting that repeated exposure of the immune system to highly diverse HIV-1 antigens can significantly improve anti-HIV-1 immunity. Thus, we investigated whether sequential plasma from these subjects superinfected with discordant HIV-1 subtypes, who exhibit broad nAbs against heterologous viruses, also neutralize their discordant early autologous viruses with increasing potency. Comparing the neutralization capacities of sequential plasma obtained before and after superinfection of 4 subjects to those of matched plasma obtained from 4 singly infected control subjects, no difference in the increase in neutralization capacity was observed between the two groups (p = 0.328). Overall, a higher increase in neutralization over time was detected in the singly infected patients (mean change in IC50 titer from first to last plasma sample: 183.4) compared to the superinfected study subjects (mean change in IC50 titer from first to last plasma sample: 66.5). Analysis of the Breadth-Potency Scores confirmed that there was no significant difference in the increase in superinfected and singly infected study subjects (p = 0.234). These studies suggest that while superinfection by discordant subtypes induces antibodies with enhanced neutralizing breadth and potency against heterologous viruses, the potency to neutralize their autologous viruses is not better than those seen in singly infected patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038989
PMCID: PMC3375243  PMID: 22720009
4.  The Evolution of HIV-1 Diversity in Rural Cameroon and its Implications in Vaccine Design and Trials 
Viruses  2010;2(2):639-654.
West-Central Africa is an epicenter of the HIV pandemic; endemic to Cameroon are HIV-1 viruses belonging to all (sub)subtypes and numerous Circulating Recombinant Forms (CRFs). The rural villages of Cameroon harbor many strains of HIV-1, though these areas are not as well monitored as the urban centers. In the present study, 82 specimens obtained in 2000 and 2001 from subjects living in the rural villages of the South and West Regions of Cameroon were subtyped in gag, pol, and env and compared to 90 specimens obtained in 2006–2008 in the same regions, in order to analyze HIV-1 evolution in these rural areas. It was found that in the South Region, the proportion of unique recombinant forms (URFs) remained constant (~40%), while the amount of URFs containing fragments of a CRF increased by 25%. (Sub)subtypes A1, F2, H, and K, and CRF09_cpx, identified in 2000 and 2001, were replaced by CRFs 01_AE, 13_cpx, 14_BG, and 18_cpx in 2006–2008. In the West Region, (sub)subtypes A2, C, G, and H, and CRFs 01_AE and 09_cpx, identified in 2000–2001, were replaced by sub-subtype A1 and CRFs 25_cpx and 37_cpx in 2006–2008. The proportion of URFs in the West Region dropped significantly over the time period by 43%. In both Regions, the proportion of CRF02_AG increased at all loci. These findings demonstrate that the evolution of HIV-1 is distinct for each endemic region, and suggests that the proportion of URFs containing CRF fragments is increasing as the genetic identity of the virus continues to shift dramatically. This highlights the concern that subtype-specific vaccines may not be relevant in Cameroon, and that the distribution of viral diversity in these regions of Cameroon must be carefully monitored.
doi:10.3390/v2020639
PMCID: PMC2975583  PMID: 21072143
HIV-1 Diversity; Rural Cameroon; phylogenetics
5.  The Evolution of HIV-1 Diversity in Rural Cameroon and its Implications in Vaccine Design and Trials 
Viruses  2010;2(2):639-654.
West-Central Africa is an epicenter of the HIV pandemic; endemic to Cameroon are HIV-1 viruses belonging to all (sub)subtypes and numerous Circulating Recombinant Forms (CRFs). The rural villages of Cameroon harbor many strains of HIV-1, though these areas are not as well monitored as the urban centers. In the present study, 82 specimens obtained in 2000 and 2001 from subjects living in the rural villages of the South and West Regions of Cameroon were subtyped in gag, pol, and env and compared to 90 specimens obtained in 2006–2008 in the same regions, in order to analyze HIV-1 evolution in these rural areas. It was found that in the South Region, the proportion of unique recombinant forms (URFs) remained constant (∼40%), while the amount of URFs containing fragments of a CRF increased by 25%. (Sub)subtypes A1, F2, H, and K, and CRF09_cpx, identified in 2000 and 2001, were replaced by CRFs 01_AE, 13_cpx, 14_BG, and 18_cpx in 2006–2008. In the West Region, (sub)subtypes A2, C, G, and H, and CRFs 01_AE and 09_cpx, identified in 2000–2001, were replaced by sub-subtype A1 and CRFs 25_cpx and 37_cpx in 2006–2008. The proportion of URFs in the West Region dropped significantly over the time period by 43%. In both Regions, the proportion of CRF02_AG increased at all loci. These findings demonstrate that the evolution of HIV-1 is distinct for each endemic region, and suggests that the proportion of URFs containing CRF fragments is increasing as the genetic identity of the virus continues to shift dramatically. This highlights the concern that subtype-specific vaccines may not be relevant in Cameroon, and that the distribution of viral diversity in these regions of Cameroon must be carefully monitored.
doi:10.3390/v2020639
PMCID: PMC2975583  PMID: 21072143
HIV-1 Diversity; Rural Cameroon; phylogenetics
6.  Neuropilin-1 Expression on Regulatory T Cells Enhances Their Interactions with Dendritic Cells during Antigen Recognition 
Immunity  2008;28(3):402-413.
Summary
The interaction of T cells with dendritic cells (DCs) determines whether an immune response is launched or not. Recognition of antigen leads to formation of immunological synapses at the interface between the cells. The length of interaction is likely to determine the functional outcome, because it limits the number of MHC class II-peptide complexes that can be recruited into the synapse. Here, we show that regulatory T (Treg) cells and naive helper T (Th) cells interact differently with DCs in the absence of proinflammatory stimuli. Although differences in T cell receptor repertoire might contribute, Foxp3-induced phenotypic differences play a major role. We found that Neuropilin-1 (Nrp-1), which is expressed by most Treg cells but not naive Th cells, promoted prolonged interactions with immature DCs (iDCs), resulting in higher sensitivity to limiting amounts of antigen. This is likely to give Treg cells an advantage over naive Th cells, with the same specificity leading to a “default” suppression of immune responses in the absence of “danger signals.”
doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2008.01.012
PMCID: PMC2726439  PMID: 18328743
MOLIMMUNO; CELLIMMUNO

Results 1-6 (6)