High-Resolution Definition of Vaccine-Elicited B Cell Responses Against the HIV Primary Receptor Binding Site

Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.
Science translational medicine (Impact Factor: 14.41). 07/2012; 4(142):142ra96. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003752
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The high overall genetic homology between humans and rhesus macaques, coupled with the phenotypic conservation of lymphocyte populations, highlights the potential use of nonhuman primates (NHPs) for the preclinical evaluation of vaccine candidates. For HIV-1, experimental models are needed to identify vaccine regimens capable of eliciting desired immune responses, such as broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs). One important neutralization target on the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Envs) is the conserved primary CD4 receptor binding site (CD4bs). The isolation and characterization of CD4bs-specific neutralizing monoclonal Abs (mAbs) from HIV-1-infected individuals have provided insights into how broadly reactive Abs target this conserved epitope. In contrast, and for reasons that are not understood, current Env immunogens elicit CD4bs-directed Abs with limited neutralization breadth. To facilitate the use of the NHP model to address this and other questions relevant to human humoral immunity, we defined features of the rhesus macaque immunoglobulin (Ig) loci and compared these to the human Ig loci. We then studied Env-immunized rhesus macaques, identified single B cells expressing CD4bs-specific Abs, and sequenced and expressed a panel of functional mAbs. Comparison of vaccine-elicited mAbs with HIV-1 infection-induced mAbs revealed differences in the degree of somatic hypermutation of the Abs as well as in the fine specificities targeted within the CD4bs. These data support the use of the preclinical NHP model to characterize vaccine-induced B cell responses at high resolution.

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    • "Prior to our study, no expressed antibody sequence data existed for lemurs. Even so, previous studies focused on primate evolution and biomedical applications have identified sequence homology among the genes underlying the formation of antibodies (Meek et al. 1991; Helmuth et al. 2000; Link et al. 2002; Sundling et al. 2012). This information motivated us to map lemur transcriptome data to the human heavy-chain locus, a region approximately 1.27 Mb long that encodes the heavy-chain immunoglobulin genes (Matsuda et al. 1998). "
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    ABSTRACT: Vaccine-induced protection is generally mediated by long-lived antigen-specific B cell responses. Most licensed vaccines target pathogens that display relatively low variability, but for highly variable pathogens, such as HIV-1, vaccine development is more challenging. This thesis is focused on understanding vaccine-induced B cell responses against the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env), a critical vaccine target. Information about the immunogenic properties of candidate Env immunogens remains limited and so far the elicitation of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) were not reported for any vaccine regimen tested in primates. Thus, there is a need to investigate vaccine-induced B cell responses against Env in more detail and to identify means to improve upon current Env-based vaccine strategies. Here, I investigate B cell responses in nonhuman primates immunized with soluble HIV-1 Env trimers to address these questions, as well as to gain an enhanced understanding about B cell responses to complex protein antigens in general. In paper I we established several assays for the evaluation of B cell responses in macaques. Following immunization with soluble trimeric Env, we comprehensively analyzed the B cell responses in the periphery, bone marrow, and mucosal compartments and further evaluated the elicited Abs for neutralization activity and protection in a SHIV challenge model. We observed high levels of Env-specific B cell responses following immunizations, improved breadth of neutralization compared to responses elicited by a monomeric Env vaccine tested in humans and delayed acquisition of SHIV infection compared to in control immunized animals. In paper II we evaluated longitudinal B cell responses following immunization with soluble trimeric Env and influenza HA protein, the latter included for comparative purposes. We found that peripheral B cell responses declined rapidly following boost, while antigen-specific long-lived plasma cells were stable for >6 months following immunization, for both antigens. In paper III we established a system for high-resolution evaluation of B cell responses in nonhuman primates. We first characterized the rhesus immunoglobulin loci to allow analyses of Ab gene usage and somatic hypermutation. We next isolated monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) targeting the HIV-1 primary receptor binding site (CD4bs) on Env and we examined the binding specificities of these Abs compared to infection-induced MAbs to unravel limitations of current vaccine-induced responses. In paper IV we optimized the RT-PCR method used in paper III for isolation of Ab V(D)J sequences from rhesus macaque B cells to facilitate future use of the macaque model for B cell studies. In conclusion, this thesis establishes several methods for the evaluation of B cell responses in nonhuman primates and it demonstrates that the soluble HIV-1 Env trimers induce potent, but relatively short-lived peripheral B cell responses. Additionally, we describe, for the first time, a set of vaccine-induced CD4bs-directed MAbs and we characterize their binding and neutralizing properties and discuss the implications of these results for improved Env vaccine design.
    11/2012, Degree: PhD in Medical Sciences, Supervisor: Gunilla Karlsson Hedestasm
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