Neutralization epitopes of the HIV-1 primary isolate DH012.
To study HIV-1 primary isolate neutralization, we have used DH012 as a model to study the immunogenicity of several DH012 immunogens and determine the potential neutralization epitopes in the virus envelope glycoprotein. Previously, we identified that DH012 infected animals mount potent neutralizing activity against a conformational epitope (CEV) that involves multiple variable regions. In this study, we show that the conformational epitope can be reconstituted with one gp120 recombinant fragment containing sequences from the V1/V2 loop and the bridging sheet of gp120 and a V3 peptide. In contrast to DH012 infection, we previously demonstrated that animals immunized with DH012 gp120 induced potent neutralizing antibodies directed at the V3 domain of gp120. In this study, a second neutralizing activity against the V1/V2 region of gp120 was identified from the same guinea pig sera. In summary, several neutralization epitopes are identified on DH012, including the CEV, V1/V2, V3, 17b, IgG1b12, and 2G12 epitopes. Infectious DH012 virus carrying oligomeric envelope appears to raise primarily neutralizing antibodies that recognize a discontinuous conformationally dependent epitope whereas the monomeric gp120 induces antibodies that are primarily directed at epitopes in the V3 and V1/V2 domains. The DH012 neutralizing epitopes, such as V1/V2 and V3, are either cryptic or poorly immunogenic in chimpanzees. However, immunogens, such as gp120, could be designed to induce neutralizing activity against epitopes that are poorly immunogenic, such as V1/V2 of DH012, in the native envelope glycoproteins.
Zhu, C; Matthews, TJ; Chen, CH
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