Crosslinking of a CD4 Mimetic Miniprotein with HIV-1 Env gp140 Alters Kinetics and Specificities of Antibody Responses against HIV-1 Env in Macaques

24 Nov 2018

Evaluation of the epitope specificities, locations (systemic or mucosal), and effector functions of antibodies elicited by novel HIV-1 immunogens engineered to improve exposure of specific epitopes is critical for HIV-1 vaccine development. Utilizing an array of humoral assays, we evaluated the magnitudes, epitope specificities, avidities, and functions of systemic and mucosal immune responses elicited by a vaccine regimen containing Env cross-linked to a CD4-mimetic miniprotein (gp140-M64U1) in rhesus macaques. Cross-linking of gp140 Env to M64U1 resulted in earlier increases of both the magnitude and avidity of the IgG binding response than those with Env protein alone. Notably, IgG binding responses at an early time point correlated with antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) function at the peak immunity time point, which was higher for the cross-linked Env group than for the Env group. In addition, the cross-linked Env group developed higher IgG responses against a linear epitope in the gp120 C1 region of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein. These data demonstrate that structural modification of the HIV-1 envelope immunogen by cross-linking of gp140 with the CD4-mimetic M64U1 elicited an earlier increase of binding antibody responses and altered the specificity of the IgG responses, correlating with the rise of subsequent antibody-mediated antiviral functions