Selection pressure on HIV-1 envelope by broadly neutralizing antibodies to the conserved CD4-binding site.

Vaccine Research Center, NIAID, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 4.65). 03/2012; 86(10):5844-56. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.07139-11
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The monoclonal antibody (MAb) VRC01 was isolated from a slowly progressing HIV-1-infected donor and was shown to neutralize diverse HIV-1 strains by binding to the conserved CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of gp120. To better understand the virologic factors associated with such antibody development, we characterized HIV-1 envelope (Env) variants from this donor and five other donors who developed broadly neutralizing antibodies. A total of 473 env sequences were obtained by single-genome amplification, and 100 representative env clones were expressed and tested for entry and neutralization sensitivity. While VRC01 neutralizes about 90% of the genetically diverse heterologous HIV-1 strains tested, only selective archival Env variants from the VRC01 donor were sensitive to VRC01 and all of the Env variants derived from the donor plasma were resistant, indicating strong antibody-based selection pressure. Despite their resistance to this broadly reactive MAb that partially mimics CD4, all Env variants required CD4 for entry. Three other CD4bs MAbs from the same donor were able to neutralize some VRC01 escape variants, suggesting that CD4bs antibodies continued to evolve in response to viral escape. We also observed a relatively high percentage of VRC01-resistant Env clones in the plasma of four of five additional broadly neutralizing donors, suggesting the presence of CD4bs-directed neutralizing antibodies in these donors. In total, these data indicate that the CD4bs-directed neutralizing antibodies exert ongoing selection pressure on the conserved CD4bs epitope of HIV-1 Env.

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