Yao Chen

Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, United States

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Publications (4)22.08 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: A goal of HIV-1 vaccine development is to elicit broadly neutralizing Abs (BnAbs), but current immunization strategies fail to induce BnAbs, and for unknown reasons, often induce nonneutralizing Abs instead. To explore potential host genetic contributions controlling Ab responses to the HIV-1 Envelope, we have used congenic strains to identify a critical role for MHC class II restriction in modulating Ab responses to the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of gp41, a key vaccine target. Immunized H-2(d)-congenic strains had more rapid, sustained, and elevated MPER(+) Ab titers than those bearing other haplotypes, regardless of immunogen, adjuvant, or prime or boost regimen used, including formulations designed to provide T cell help. H-2(d)-restricted MPER(+) serum Ab responses depended on CD4 TH interactions with class II (as revealed in immunized intra-H-2(d/b) congenic or CD154(-/-) H-2(d) strains, and by selective abrogation of MPER restimulated, H-2(d)-restricted primed splenocytes by class II-blocking Abs), and failed to neutralize HIV-1 in the TZM-b/l neutralization assay, coinciding with lack of specificity for an aspartate residue in the neutralization core of BnAb 2F5. Unexpectedly, H-2(d)-restricted MPER(+) responses functionally mapped to a core TH epitope partially overlapping the 2F5/z13/4E10 BnAb epitopes as well as nonneutralizing B cell-Ab binding residues. We propose that class II restriction contributes to the general heterogeneity of nonneutralizing gp41 responses induced by Envelope. Moreover, the proximity of TH and B cell epitopes in this restriction may have to be considered in redesigning minimal MPER immunogens aimed at exclusively binding BnAb epitopes and triggering MPER(+) BnAbs.
    The Journal of Immunology 01/2014; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A goal of HIV-1 vaccine development is to elicit broadly neutralizing Abs (BnAbs). Using a knock-in (KI) model of 2F5, a human HIV-1 gp41 membrane proximal external region (MPER)-specific BnAb, we previously demonstrated that a key obstacle to BnAb induction is clonal deletion of BnAb-expressing B cells. In this study of this model, we provide a proof-of-principle that robust serum neutralizing IgG responses can be induced from pre-existing, residual, self-reactive BnAb-expressing B cells in vivo using a structurally compatible gp41 MPER immunogen. Furthermore, in CD40L-deficient 2F5 KI mice, we demonstrate that these BnAb responses are elicited via a type II T-independent pathway, coinciding with expansion and activation of transitional splenic B cells specific for 2F5's nominal gp41 MPER-binding epitope (containing the 2F5 neutralization domain ELDKWA). In contrast, constitutive production of nonneutralizing serum IgGs in 2F5 KI mice is T dependent and originates from a subset of splenic mature B2 cells that have lost their ability to bind 2F5's gp41 MPER epitope. These results suggest that residual, mature B cells expressing autoreactive BnAbs, like 2F5 as BCR, may be limited in their ability to participate in T-dependent responses by purifying selection that selectively eliminates reactivity for neutralization epitope-containing/mimicked host Ags.
    The Journal of Immunology 08/2013; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Developing an HIV-1 vaccine has been hampered by the inability of immunogens to induce broadly neutralizing Abs (BnAbs) that protect against infection. Previously, we used knockin (KI) mice expressing a prototypical gp41-specific BnAb, 2F5, to demonstrate that immunological tolerance triggered by self-reactivity of the 2F5 H chain impedes BnAb induction. In this study, we generate KI models expressing H chains from two other HIV-1 Abs, 4E10 (another self-/polyreactive, anti-gp41 BnAb) and 48d (an anti-CD4 inducible, nonpolyreactive Ab), and find a similar developmental blockade consistent with central B cell deletion in 4E10, but not in 48d VH KI mice. Furthermore, in KI strains expressing the complete 2F5 and 4E10 Abs as BCRs, we find that residual splenic B cells arrest at distinct developmental stages, yet exhibit uniformly low BCR densities, elevated basal activation, and profoundly muted responses to BCR ligation and, when captured as hybridoma mAb lines, maintain their dual (gp41/lipid) affinities and capacities to neutralize HIV-1, establishing a key role for anergy in suppressing residual 2F5- or 4E10-expressing B cells. Importantly, serum IgGs from naive 2F5 and 4E10 KI strains selectively eliminate gp41 and lipid binding, respectively, suggesting B cells expressing 2F5 or 4E10 as BCRs exhibit specificity for a distinct spectrum of host Ags, including selective interactions by 2F5 BCR(+) B cells (i.e., and not 4E10 BCR(+) B cells) with those mimicked by its gp41 neutralization epitope.
    The Journal of Immunology 07/2013; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The HIV-1 broadly neutralizing Ab (bnAb) 2F5 has been shown to be poly-/self-reactive in vitro, and we previously demonstrated that targeted expression of its VDJ rearrangement alone was sufficient to trigger a profound B cell developmental blockade in 2F5 V(H) knockin (KI) mice, consistent with central deletion of 2F5 H chain-expressing B cells. In this study, we generate a strain expressing the entire 2F5 bnAb specificity, 2F5 V(H) × V(L) KI mice, and find an even higher degree of tolerance control than observed in the 2F5 V(H) KI strain. Although B cell development was severely impaired in 2F5 V(H) × V(L) KI animals, we demonstrate rescue of their B cells when cultured in IL-7/BAFF. Intriguingly, even under these conditions, most rescued B cell hybridomas produced mAbs that lacked HIV-1 Envelope (Env) reactivity due to editing of the 2F5 L chain, and the majority of rescued B cells retained an anergic phenotype. Thus, when clonal deletion is circumvented, κ editing and anergy are additional safeguards preventing 2F5 V(H)/V(L) expression by immature/transitional B cells. Importantly, 7% of rescued B cells retained 2F5 V(H)/V(L) expression and secreted Env-specific mAbs with HIV-1-neutralizing activity. This partial rescue was further corroborated in vivo, as reflected by the anergic phenotype of most rescued B cells in 2F5 V(H) × V(L) KI × Eμ-Bcl-2 transgenic mice and significant (yet modest) enrichment of Env-specific B cells and serum Igs. The rescued 2F5 mAb-producing B cell clones in this study are the first examples, to our knowledge, of in vivo-derived bone marrow precursors specifying HIV-1 bnAbs and provide a starting point for design of strategies aimed at rescuing such B cells.
    The Journal of Immunology 09/2011; 187(7):3785-97. · 5.52 Impact Factor