Visualization of the HIV-1 Env Glycan Shield Across Scales
Zachary T. Berndsen,
Christopher A. Cottrell,
Jonathan L. Torres,
Jolene K. Diedrich,
Cesar A. López,
John R. Yates,
Marit J. van Gils,
James C. Paulson,
Andrew B. Ward
Posted 12 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/839217
Posted 12 Nov 2019
The dense array of N-linked glycans on the HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein (Env), known as the "glycan shield", is a key determinant of immunogenicity, yet intrinsic heterogeneity confounds typical structure-function analysis. Here we present an integrated approach of single-particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM), computational modeling, and site-specific mass-spectrometry (MS) to probe glycan shield structure and behavior at multiple levels. We found that dynamics lead to an extensive network of inter-glycan interactions that drive the formation of higher-order structure within the glycan shield. This structure defines diffuse boundaries between buried and exposed protein surface and creates a mapping of potentially immunogenic sites on Env. Analysis of Env expressed in different cell lines revealed how cryo-EM can detect subtle changes in glycan occupancy, composition, and dynamics that impact glycan shield structure and epitope accessibility. Importantly, this identified unforeseen changes in the glycan shield of Env obtained from expression in the same CHO cell line used for GMP production. Finally, by capturing the enzymatic deglycosylation of Env in a time-resolved manner we found that highly connected glycan clusters are resistant to digestion and help stabilize the pre-fusion trimer, suggesting the glycan shield may function beyond immune evasion. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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