[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Seasonal epidemics caused by influenza A (H1 and H3 subtypes) and B viruses are a major global health threat. The traditional, trivalent influenza vaccines have limited efficacy because of rapid antigenic evolution of the circulating viruses. This antigenic variability mediates viral escape from the host immune responses, necessitating annual vaccine updates. Influenza vaccines elicit a protective antibody response, primarily targeting the viral surface glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA). However, the predominant humoral response is against the hypervariable head domain of HA, thereby restricting the breadth of protection. In contrast, the conserved, subdominant stem domain of HA is a potential ‘universal’ vaccine candidate. We designed an HA stem-fragment immunogen from the 1968 pandemic H3N2 strain (A/Hong Kong/1/68) guided by a comprehensive H3 HA sequence conservation analysis. The biophysical properties of the designed immunogen were further improved by C-terminal fusion of a trimerization motif, ‘isoleucine-zipper’ or ‘foldon’. These immunogens elicited cross-reactive, antiviral antibodies and conferred partial protection against a lethal, homologous HK68 virus challenge in vivo. Furthermore, bacterial expression of these immunogens is economical and facilitates rapid scale-up.
Frontiers in Immunology 06/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2015.00329
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Influenza hemagglutinin (HA) is the primary target of the humoral response during infection/vaccination. Current influenza vaccines typically fail to elicit/boost broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs), thereby limiting their efficacy. Although several bnAbs bind to the conserved stem domain of HA, focusing the immune response to this conserved stem in the presence of the immunodominant, variable head domain of HA is challenging. We report the design of a thermotolerant, disulfide-free, and trimeric HA stem-fragment immunogen which mimics the native, prefusion conformation of HA and binds conformation specific bnAbs with high affinity. The immunogen elicited bnAbs that neutralized highly divergent group 1 (H1 and H5 subtypes) and 2 (H3 subtype) influenza virus strains in vitro. Stem immunogens designed from unmatched, highly drifted influenza strains conferred robust protection against a lethal heterologous A/Puerto Rico/8/34 virus challenge in vivo. Soluble, bacterial expression of such designed immunogens allows for rapid scale-up during pandemic outbreaks.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2014; 111(25). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1402766111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The hemagglutinin protein (HA) on the surface of influenza virus is essential for viral entry into the host cells. The HA1 subunit of HA is also the primary target for neutralizing antibodies. The HA2 subunit is less exposed on the virion surface and more conserved than HA1. We have previously designed an HA2 based immunogen derived from the sequence of the H3N2 A/HK/68 virus. In the present study we report the design of an HA2 based immunogen from the H1N1 subtype (PR/8/34). This immunogen (H1HA0HA6) and its circular permutant (H1HA6) were well folded and provided complete protection against homologous viral challenge. Anti-sera of immunized mice showed cross-reactivity with HA proteins of different strains and subtypes. Although no neutralization was observable in a conventional neutralization assay, sera of immunized guinea pigs competed with a broadly neutralizing antibody CR6261 for binding to recombinant Viet/04 HA protein suggesting that CR6261 like antibodies were elicited by the immunogens. Stem domain immunogens from a seasonal H1N1 strain (A/NC/20/99) and a recent pandemic strain (A/Cal/07/09) provided cross-protection against A/PR/8/34 viral challenge. HA2 containing stem domain immunogens therefore have the potential to provide subtype specific protection.
Journal of Virology 09/2012; 86(24). DOI:10.1128/JVI.01429-12 · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Influenza HA is the primary target of neutralizing antibodies during infection, and its sequence undergoes genetic drift and shift in response to immune pressure. The receptor binding HA1 subunit of HA shows much higher sequence variability relative to the metastable, fusion-active HA2 subunit, presumably because neutralizing antibodies are primarily targeted against the former in natural infection. We have designed an HA2-based immunogen using a protein minimization approach that incorporates designed mutations to destabilize the low pH conformation of HA2. The resulting construct (HA6) was expressed in Escherichia coli and refolded from inclusion bodies. Biophysical studies and mutational analysis of the protein indicate that it is folded into the desired neutral pH conformation competent to bind the broadly neutralizing HA2 directed monoclonal 12D1, not the low pH conformation observed in previous studies. HA6 was highly immunogenic in mice and the mice were protected against lethal challenge by the homologous A/HK/68 mouse-adapted virus. An HA6-like construct from another H3 strain (A/Phil/2/82) also protected mice against A/HK/68 challenge. Regions included in HA6 are highly conserved within a subtype and are fairly well conserved within a clade. Targeting the highly conserved HA2 subunit with a bacterially produced immunogen is a vaccine strategy that may aid in pandemic preparedness.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2010; 107(31):13701-6. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1007465107 · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Eliciting a broadly neutralizing polyclonal antibody response against HIV-1 remains a major challenge. One approach to vaccine development is prevention of HIV-1 entry into cells by blocking the fusion of viral and cell membranes. More specifically, our goal is to elicit neutralizing antibodies that target a transient viral entry intermediate (the prehairpin intermediate) formed by the HIV-1 gp41 protein. Because this intermediate is transient, a stable mimetic is required to elicit an immune response. Previously, a series of engineered peptides was used to select a mAb (denoted D5) that binds to the surface of the gp41 prehairpin intermediate, as demonstrated by x-ray crystallographic studies. D5 inhibits the replication of HIV-1 clinical isolates, providing proof-of-principle for this vaccine approach. Here, we describe a series of peptide mimetics of the gp41 prehairpin intermediate designed to permit a systematic analysis of the immune response generated in animals. To improve the chances of detecting weak neutralizing polyclonal responses, two strategies were employed in the initial screening: use of a neutralization-hypersensitive virus and concentration of the IgG fraction from immunized animal sera. This allowed incremental improvements through iterative cycles of design, which led to vaccine candidates capable of generating a polyclonal antibody response, detectable in unfractionated sera, that neutralize tier 1 HIV-1 and simian HIV primary isolates in vitro. Our findings serve as a starting point for the design of more potent immunogens to elicit a broadly neutralizing response against the gp41 prehairpin intermediate.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2010; 107(23):10655-60. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1004261107 · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prophylactic efficacies of several multivalent replication-incompetent adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) vaccines were examined in rhesus macaques using an intrarectal high-dose simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239 challenge model. Cohorts of Mamu-A*01(+)/B*17(-) Indian rhesus macaques were immunized with one of several combinations of Ad5 vectors expressing Gag, Pol, Nef, and Env gp140; for comparison, a Mamu-A*01(+) cohort was immunized using the Ad5 vector alone. There was no sign of immunological interference between antigens in the immunized animals. In general, expansion of the antigen breadth resulted in more favorable virological outcomes. In particular, the order of efficacy trended as follows: Gag/Pol/Nef/Env approximately Gag/Pol > Gag approximately Gag/Pol/Nef > Nef. However, the precision in ranking the vaccines based on the study results may be limited by the cohort size, and as such, may warrant additional testing. The implications of these results in light of the recent discouraging results of the phase IIb study of the trivalent Ad5 HIV-1 vaccine are discussed.
Journal of Virology 03/2010; 84(6):2996-3003. DOI:10.1128/JVI.00969-09 · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rational vaccines designed to engender T cell responses require intimate knowledge of how epitopes are generated and presented. Recently, we vaccinated 8 Mamu-A*02(+) rhesus macaques with every SIV protein except Envelope (Env). Surprisingly, one of the strongest T cell responses engendered was against the Env protein, the Mamu-A*02-restricted epitope, Env(788-795)RY8. In this paper, we show that translation from an alternate reading frame of both the Rev-encoding DNA plasmid and the rAd5 vector engendered Env(788-795)RY8-specific CD8(+) T cells of greater magnitude than "normal" SIV infection. Our data demonstrate both that the pathway from vaccination to immune response is not well understood and that products of alternate reading frames may be rich and untapped sources of T cell epitopes.
The Journal of Immunology 11/2009; 184(1):67-72. DOI:10.4049/jimmunol.0903118 · 5.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: All human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine efficacy trials to date have ended in failure. Structural features of the Env glycoprotein and its enormous variability have frustrated efforts to induce broadly reactive neutralizing antibodies. To explore the extent to which vaccine-induced cellular immune responses, in the absence of neutralizing antibodies, can control replication of a heterologous, mucosal viral challenge, we vaccinated eight macaques with a DNA/Ad5 regimen expressing all of the proteins of SIVmac239 except Env. Vaccinees mounted high-frequency T-cell responses against 11 to 34 epitopes. We challenged the vaccinees and eight naïve animals with the heterologous biological isolate SIVsmE660, using a regimen intended to mimic typical HIV exposures resulting in infection. Viral loads in the vaccinees were significantly less at both the peak (1.9-log reduction; P < 0.03) and at the set point (2.6-log reduction; P < 0.006) than those in control naïve animals. Five of eight vaccinated macaques controlled acute peak viral replication to less than 80,000 viral RNA (vRNA) copy eq/ml and to less than 100 vRNA copy eq/ml in the chronic phase. Our results demonstrate that broad vaccine-induced cellular immune responses can effectively control replication of a pathogenic, heterologous AIDS virus, suggesting that T-cell-based vaccines may have greater potential than previously appreciated.
Journal of Virology 04/2009; 83(13):6508-21. DOI:10.1128/JVI.00272-09 · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: M2 protein of influenza A virus has been implicated as a target for vaccines with broad cross-strain coverage. Studies in small animal models have shown that antibody responses induced by 23-mer M2 peptide vaccines can provide protection against influenza A virus challenge. To study antiviral mechanisms of Merck M2-OMPC conjugate vaccine, we generated and characterized four M2 peptide-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Here we demonstrated that the protection by our M2 mAbs is independent of NK-mediated effector functions in mice. The protective mAbs preferentially bind to M2 multimers composed of two or more M2 peptides in parallel orientation. Our findings indicate that the protective M2 Ab prefer to bind to epitopes located within the N-terminal 10 amino acids of the M2 peptide, and the epitopes are likely formed by two M2 peptides in parallel orientation. The implications of these results in antiviral mechanisms of immune responses induced by M2 vaccines are discussed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immunization against M2 peptide, also called M2e, from influenza A virus is an innovative vaccine approach for induction of cross-strain protective immunity. Two promising M2 vaccine compositions reported to date are M2 peptide chemically conjugated to carrier proteins or M2 peptide recombinantly expressed on the surface of virus like particles (VLPs) of hepatitis B virus core antigen (HBVc). To conduct a head-to-head comparison of these approaches, we constructed two recombinant HBVc VLPs expressing M2 peptide and prepared two conjugate vaccines with M2 peptide chemically coupled to Neisseria meningitidis outer membrane complex (OMPC) or HBVc VLP, respectively. Here, we showed superior immunogenicity of M2 peptide conjugated to OMPC and M2 peptide expressed on the surface of HBVc antigen based on dose-titration responses in mice. Surprisingly, HBVc expressing M2 peptide was an inferior vaccine in rhesus monkeys, whether as a primary vaccine or as a booster vaccine, when compared with M2-OMPC conjugate vaccine.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current flu vaccines are based on killed or attenuated virus vaccines that must be altered each year to include the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes from a strain of virus predicted to predominate in the coming year. A vaccine that could protect against multiple strains of influenza A and B would be a major asset in the fight against flu-related mortality and morbidity. To support development of such a vaccine, we have developed a Flu Multiplex Assay based on a Luminex platform to assess serum antibody levels to two conserved peptides derived from influenza A (M2 protein) and influenza B (hemagglutinin protein). The peptides were synthesized with a biotin label and subsequently coupled to two different LumAvidin microspheres. We then tested various sera against both types of peptide in the multiplex assay format. The data show that sera from Rhesus macaques immunized with a single peptide react only with the homologous peptide while Rhesus macaques immunized with both peptides respond well to both peptides. Additionally, we were able to specifically compete reactivity to both peptides. We have tested serial bleeds from 100 pediatric patients at ages ranging from 16 to 56 weeks as well as single bleeds from over 100 healthy adults. No overall trend in titer relative to pediatric age was detected. Both demographics exhibited a minimal response to either the A/M2 or B/HA0 peptides. However, the average titer for the pediatric serum samples was significantly lower than that found in the adult population. The adult population exhibited a higher prevalence of low reactive samples. Assay reagents and parameters have been optimized and the assay is shown to be repeatable and robust. The assay will be used to support clinical vaccine trials of a bivalent peptide vaccine.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lack of virus specific antibody response is commonly observed in both HIV-1-infected humans and SIV-infected monkeys with rapid disease progression. However, the mechanisms underlying this important observation still remain unclear. In a titration study of a SIVmac239 viral stock, three out of six animals with viral inoculation rapidly progressed to AIDS within 5 months. Unexpectedly, there was no obvious depletion of CD4(+) T cells in both peripheral and lymph node (LN) compartments in these animals. Instead, progressive depletion of proliferating B cells and disruption of the follicular dendritic cell (FDC) network in germinal centers (GC) was evident in the samples collected at as early as 20 days after viral challenge. This coincided with undetectable, or weak and transient, virus-specific antibody responses over the course of infection. In situ hybridization of SIV RNA in the LN samples revealed a high frequency of SIV productively infected cells and large amounts of accumulated viral RNA in the GCs in these animals. Early severe depletion of GC proliferating B cells and disruption of the FDC network may thus result in an inability to mount a virus-specific antibody response in rapid progressors, which has been shown to contribute to accelerated disease progression of SIV infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: gp120 is a subunit of the envelope glycoprotein of HIV-1. The third variable loop region of gp120 (V3 loop) contains multiple immunodominant epitopes and is also functionally important for deciding cell-tropism of the virus. 447-52D is a monoclonal antibody that recognizes the conserved tip of the V3 loop in a beta-turn conformation. This antibody has previously been shown to neutralize diverse strains of the virus. In an attempt to generate an immunogen competent to generate 447-52D-like antibodies, the known epitope of 447-52D was inserted at three different surface loop locations in the small, stable protein Escherichia coli Trx (thioredoxin). At one of the three locations (between residues 74 and 75), the insertion was tolerated, the resulting protein was stable and soluble, and bound 447-52D with an affinity similar to that of intact gp120. Upon immunization, the V3 peptide-inserted Trx scaffold was able to generate anti-V3 antibodies that could compete out 447-52D binding to gp120. Epitope mapping studies demonstrated that these anti-V3 antibodies recognized the same epitope as 447-52D. Although the 447-52D-type antibodies were estimated to be present at concentrations of 50-400 microg/ml of serum, these were not able to effect neutralization of strains like JRFL and BAL but could neutralize the sensitive MN strain. The data suggest that because of the low accessibility of the V3 loop on primary isolates such as JRFL, it will be difficult to elicit a V3-specific, 447-52D-like antibody response to effectively neutralize such isolates.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The goal of an AIDS vaccine regimen designed to induce cellular immune responses should be to reduce the viral set point and preserve memory CD4 lymphocytes. Here we investigated whether vaccine-induced cellular immunity in the absence of any Env-specific antibodies can control viral replication following multiple low-dose challenges with the highly pathogenic SIVmac239 isolate. Eight Mamu-A*01-positive Indian rhesus macaques were vaccinated with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) gag, tat, rev, and nef using a DNA prime-adenovirus boost strategy. Peak viremia (P = 0.007) and the chronic phase set point (P = 0.0192) were significantly decreased in the vaccinated cohort, out to 1 year postinfection. Loss of CD4(+) memory populations was also ameliorated in vaccinated animals. Interestingly, only one of the eight vaccinees developed Env-specific neutralizing antibodies after infection. The control observed was significantly improved over that observed in animals vaccinated with SIV gag only. Vaccine-induced cellular immune responses can, therefore, exert a measure of control over replication of the AIDS virus in the complete absence of neutralizing antibody and give us hope that a vaccine designed to induce cellular immune responses might control viral replication.
Journal of Virology 07/2006; 80(12):5875-85. DOI:10.1128/JVI.00171-06 · 4.65 Impact Factor