James Crowe
Faculty Member
Last active: 3/31/2019

Human Antibodies that Recognize Novel Immunodominant Quaternary Epitopes on the HIV-1 Env Protein.

Hicar MD, Chen X, Sulli C, Barnes T, Goodman J, Sojar H, Briney B, Willis J, Chukwuma VU, Kalams SA, Doranz BJ, Spearman P, Crowe JE
PLoS One. 2016 11 (7): e0158861

PMID: 27411063 · PMCID: PMC4943599 · DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0158861

Numerous broadly neutralizing antibodies (Abs) target epitopes that are formed or enhanced during mature HIV envelope formation (i.e. quaternary epitopes). Generally, it is thought that Env epitopes that induce broadly neutralizing Abs are difficult to access and poorly immunogenic because of the characteristic oligomerization, conformational flexibility, sequence diversity and extensive glycosylation of Env protein. To enhance for isolation of quaternary epitope-targeting Abs (QtAbs), we previously used HIV virus-like particles (VLPs) to bind B cells from long-term non-progressor subjects to identify a panel of monoclonal Abs. When expressed as recombinant full-length Abs, a subset of these novel Abs exhibited the binding profiles of QtAbs, as they either failed to bind to monomeric Env protein or showed much higher affinity for Env trimers and VLPs. These QtAbs represented a significant proportion of the B-cell response identified with VLPs. The Ab genes of these clones were highly mutated, but they did not neutralize common HIV strains. We sought to further define the epitopes targeted by these QtAbs. Competition-binding and mapping studies revealed these Abs targeted four separate epitopes; they also failed to compete for binding by Abs to known major neutralizing epitopes. Detailed epitope mapping studies revealed that two of the four epitopes were located in the gp41 subunit of Env. These QtAbs bound pre-fusion forms of antigen and showed differential binding kinetics depending on whether oligomers were produced as recombinant gp140 trimers or as full-length Env incorporated into VLPs. Antigenic regions within gp41 present unexpectedly diverse structural epitopes, including these QtAb epitopes, which may be targeted by the naturally occurring Ab response to HIV infection.

MeSH Terms (12)

Antibodies, Monoclonal Antibodies, Neutralizing B-Lymphocytes env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus HIV-1 HIV Antibodies HIV Envelope Protein gp41 HIV Infections Humans Immunodominant Epitopes Protein Domains Recombinant Proteins

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