Identification of an HIV-1 clade A envelope that exhibits broad antigenicity and neutralization sensitivity and elicits antibodies targeting three distinct epitopes.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) PG9 and PG16 were isolated from an International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Protocol G subject infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) clade A. Both antibodies are highly potent and neutralize greater than 70% of viruses tested. We sought to begin immunogen design based on viral sequences from this patient; however, pseudoviruses prepared with 19 envelope sequences from this subject were resistant to neutralization by PG9 and PG16. Therefore, we used a bioinformatics approach to identify closely related viruses that were potentially sensitive to PG9 and PG16. A most-recent common ancestor (MRCA) sequence for the viral envelope (Env) was determined and aligned with 99 subtype A gp160 sequences from the Los Alamos HIV database. Virus BG505.W6M.ENV.C2 (BG505) was found to have the highest degree of homology (73%) to the MRCA sequence. Pseudoviruses prepared with this Env were sensitive to neutralization with a broad panel of bNAbs, including PG9 and PG16. When expressed by 293T cells as soluble gp120, the BG505 monomer bound well to both PG9 and PG16. We further showed that a point mutation (L111A) enabled more efficient production of a stable gp120 monomer that preserves the major neutralization epitopes. Finally, we showed that an adjuvanted formulation of this gp120 protein elicited neutralizing antibodies in rabbits (following a gp120 DNA vaccine prime) and that the antisera competed with bNAbs from 3 classes of nonoverlapping epitopes. Thus, the BG505 Env protein warrants further investigation as an HIV vaccine candidate, as a stand-alone protein, or as a component of a vaccine vector.
Hoffenberg, S; Powell, R; Carpov, A; Wagner, D; Wilson, A; Kosakovsky Pond, S; Lindsay, R; Arendt, H; Destefano, J; Phogat, S; Poignard, P; Fling, SP; Simek, M; Labranche, C; Montefiori, D; Wrin, T; Phung, P; Burton, D; Koff, W; King, CR; Parks, CL; Caulfield, MJ
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