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Targeting HIV Env immunogens to B cell follicles in non-human primates through immune complex or protein nanoparticle formulations

By Jacob T. Martin, Cristopher A. Cottrell, Aleksandar Antanasijevic, Diane G. Carnathan, Benjamin J Cossette, Chiamaka A. Enemuo, Etse H. Gebru, Yury Choe, Federico Viviano, Talar Tokatlian, Kimberly M Cirelli, George Ueda, Jeffrey Copps, Torben Schiffner, Sergey Menis, William R Schief, Shane Crotty, Neil P. King, David Baker, Guido Silvestri, Andrew B. Ward, Darrell J Irvine

Posted 20 Feb 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.19.956482 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41541-020-00223-1)

Following immunization, high affinity antibody responses develop within germinal centers (GCs), specialized sites within follicles of the lymph node (LN) where B cells proliferate and undergo somatic hypermutation. Antigen availability within GCs is important, as B cells must acquire and present antigen to follicular helper T cells to drive this process. However, recombinant protein immunogens such as soluble HIV envelope (Env) trimers do not efficiently accumulate in follicles following traditional immunization. Here we demonstrate two strategies to concentrate HIV Env immunogens in follicles, via the formation of immune complexes (ICs) or by employing self-assembling protein nanoparticles for multivalent display of Env antigens. Using rhesus macaques, we show that within a few days following immunization, free trimers were present in a diffuse pattern in draining LNs, while trimer ICs and Env nanoparticles accumulated in B cell follicles. Whole LN imaging strikingly revealed that ICs and trimer nanoparticles concentrated in as many as 500 follicles in a single lymph node within 2 days after immunization. Imaging of LNs collected 7 days post-immunization showed that Env nanoparticles persisted on follicular dendritic cells in the light zone of nascent germinal centers. These findings suggest that the form of antigen administered in vaccination can dramatically impact localization in lymphoid tissues and provides a new rationale for the enhanced immune responses observed following immunization with immune complexes or nanoparticles.

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