Glycoengineering HIV-1 Env creates 'supercharged' and 'hybrid' glycans to increase neutralizing antibody potency, breadth and saturation.
The extensive glycosylation of HIV-1 envelope (Env) glycoprotein leaves few glycan-free holes large enough to admit broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAb). Consequently, most bnAbs must inevitably make some glycan contacts and avoid clashes with others. To investigate how Env glycan maturation regulates HIV sensitivity to bnAbs, we modified HIV-1 pseudovirus (PV) using various glycoengineering (GE) tools. Promoting the maturation of α-2,6 sialic acid (SA) glycan termini increased PV sensitivity to two bnAbs that target the V2 apex and one to the interface between Env surface gp120 and transmembrane gp41 subunits, typically by up to 30-fold. These effects were reversible by incubating PV with neuraminidase. The same bnAbs were unusually potent against PBMC-produced HIV-1, suggesting similar α-2,6 hypersialylated glycan termini may occur naturally. Overexpressing β-galactosyltransferase during PV production replaced complex glycans with hybrid glycans, effectively 'thinning' trimer glycan coverage. This increased PV sensitivity to some bnAbs but ablated sensitivity to one bnAb that depends on complex glycans. Other bnAbs preferred small glycans or galactose termini. For some bnAbs, the effects of GE were strain-specific, suggesting that GE had context-dependent effects on glycan clashes. GE was also able to increase the percent maximum neutralization (i.e. saturation) by some bnAbs. Indeed, some bnAb-resistant strains became highly sensitive with GE-thus uncovering previously unknown bnAb breadth. As might be expected, the activities of bnAbs that recognize glycan-deficient or invariant oligomannose epitopes were largely unaffected by GE. Non-neutralizing antibodies were also unaffected by GE, suggesting that trimers remain compact. Unlike mature bnAbs, germline-reverted bnAbs avoided or were indifferent to glycans, suggesting that glycan contacts are acquired as bnAbs mature. Together, our results suggest that glycovariation can greatly impact neutralization and that knowledge of the optimal Env glycoforms recognized by bnAbs may assist rational vaccine design.
Crooks, ET; Grimley, SL; Cully, M; Osawa, K; Dekkers, G; Saunders, K; Rämisch, S; Menis, S; Schief, WR; Doria-Rose, N; Haynes, B; Murrell, B; Cale, EM; Pegu, A; Mascola, JR; Vidarsson, G; Binley, JM
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