Consistent elicitation of cross-clade HIV-neutralizing responses achieved in guinea pigs after fusion peptide priming by repetitive envelope trimer boosting.
The vaccine elicitation of broadly neutralizing responses is a central goal of HIV research. Recently, we elicited cross-clade neutralizing responses against the N terminus of the fusion peptide (FP), a critical component of the HIV-entry machinery. While the consistency of the elicited cross-clade neutralizing responses was good in mice, it was poor in guinea pigs: after seven immunizations comprising either envelope (Env) trimer or FP coupled to a carrier, serum from only one of five animals could neutralize a majority of a cross-clade panel of 19 wild-type strains. Such a low response rate-only 20%-made increasing consistency an imperative. Here, we show that additional Env-trimer immunizations could boost broad FP-directed neutralizing responses in a majority of immunized animals. The first boost involved a heterologous Env trimer developed from the transmitted founder clade C strain of donor CH505, and the second boost involved a cocktail that combined the CH505 trimer with a trimer from the BG505 strain. After boosting, sera from three of five animals neutralized a majority of the 19-strain panel and serum from a fourth animal neutralized 8 strains. We demonstrate that cross-reactive serum neutralization targeted the FP by blocking neutralization with soluble fusion peptide. The FP competition revealed two categories of elicited responses: an autologous response to the BG505 strain of high potency (~10,000 ID50), which was not competed by soluble FP, and a heterologous response of lower potency, which was competed by soluble FP. While the autologous response could increase rapidly in response to Env-trimer boost, the heterologous neutralizing response increased more slowly. Overall, repetitive Env-trimer immunizations appeared to boost low titer FP-carrier primed responses to detectable levels, yielding cross-clade neutralization. The consistent trimer-boosted neutralizing responses described here add to accumulating evidence for the vaccine utility of the FP site of HIV vulnerability.
Cheng, C; Xu, K; Kong, R; Chuang, G-Y; Corrigan, AR; Geng, H; Hill, KR; Jafari, AJ; O'Dell, S; Ou, L; Rawi, R; Rowshan, AP; Sarfo, EK; Sastry, M; Saunders, KO; Schmidt, SD; Wang, S; Wu, W; Zhang, B; Doria-Rose, NA; Haynes, BF; Scorpio, DG; Shapiro, L; Mascola, JR; Kwong, PD
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