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Neutralizing antibody responses to an HIV envelope glycan hole are not easily broadened

By Yuhe R Yang, Laura E McCoy, Marit van Gils, Raiees Andrabi, Hannah L. Turner, Meng Yuan, Christopher A Cottrell, Gabriel Ozorowski, James Voss, Matthias Pauthner, Thomas M Polveroni, Terrence Messmer, Ian A. Wilson, Rogier W. Sanders, Dennis R. Burton, Andrew B. Ward

Posted 01 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/827477 (published DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01861-19)

Extensive studies with subtype A BG505-derived HIV envelope glycoprotein (Env) SOSIP immunogens have revealed that the dominant autologous neutralizing site in rabbits is located in an exposed region of the heavily glycosylated trimer that lacks potential N-linked glycosylation sites at positions 230, 241, and 289. The Env derived from B41, a subtype B virus, shares a glycan hole centered on positions 230 and 289. BG505 and B41 SOSIP immunogens were combined to test whether immunization in rabbits could induce broader Tier 2 neutralizing responses to the common glycan hole shared between BG505 and B41. Here we isolated autologous neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) that were induced by immunization with B41 SOSIP alone, as well as B41 and BG505 co-immunization, and describe their structure in complex with the B41 SOSIP trimer. Our data suggest that distinct autologous nAb lineages are induced by BG505 and B41 immunogens, even when both immunogens were administered together. In contrast to previously described BG505 glycan hole antibodies, the B41-specific nAbs accommodate the highly conserved N241 glycan (>97% conserved), which is present in B41. Single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) studies confirmed that B41 and BG505-specific nAbs bind to overlapping glycan hole epitopes. In an attempt to broaden the reactivity of a B41-specific nAb, mutations in the BG505 glycan hole epitope guided by our high-resolution data only recovered partial binding. Overall, designing prime-boost immunogens to increase the breath of nAb responses directed at glycan holes epitopes remains challenging even when the typically immunodominant glycan holes despite overlap with different Envs.

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