[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the gp41 subunit of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) contains determinants for broadly neutralizing antibodies and has remained an important focus of vaccine design. However, creating an immunogen that elicits broadly neutralizing antibodies to this region has proven difficult in part due to the relative inaccessibility of the MPER in the native conformation of Env. Here, we describe the antigenicity and immunogenicity of a panel of oligomeric gp41 immunogens designed to model a fusion-intermediate conformation of Env in order to enhance MPER exposure in a relevant conformation. The immunogens contain segments of the gp41 N- and C-heptad repeats to mimic a trapped intermediate, followed by the MPER, with variations that include different N-heptad lengths, insertion of extra epitopes, and varying C-termini. These well-characterized immunogens were evaluated in two different immunization protocols involving gp41 and gp140 proteins, gp41 and gp160 DNA primes, and different immunization schedules and adjuvants. We found that the immunogens designed to reduce extension of helical structure into the MPER elicited the highest MPER antibody binding titers, but these antibodies lacked neutralizing activity. The gp41 protein immunogens also elicited higher MPER titers than the gp140 protein immunogen. In prime-boost studies, the best MPER responses were seen in the groups that received DNA priming with gp41 vectors followed by gp41 protein boosts. Finally, although titers to the entire protein immunogen were similar in the two immunization protocols, MPER-specific titers differed, suggesting that the immunization route, schedule, dose, or adjuvant may differentially influence MPER immunogenicity. These findings inform the design of future MPER immunogens and immunization protocols.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highly attenuated modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is being considered as a safer alternative to conventional smallpox vaccines such as Dryvax or ACAM 2000, but it requires higher doses or more-frequent boosting than replication-competent Dryvax. Previously, we found that passive transfer of A27 antibodies can enhance protection afforded by vaccinia immune globulin (VIG), which is derived from Dryvax immunized subjects. Here we investigated whether protective immunity elicited by MVA could be augmented by prime-boost or combination immunizations with a recombinant A27 (rA27) protein. We found that a prime/boost immunization regimen with rA27 protein and MVA, in either sequence order, conferred protection to mice challenged with a lethal dose of vaccinia virus strain Western Reserve (VV-WR), compared to no protection after immunizations with a similar dose of either MVA or rA27 alone. Moreover, protection was achieved in mice primed simultaneously with combination of both MVA and rA27 in different vaccination routes, without any boost, even though MVA or rA27 alone at the same dose gave no protection. These findings show that rA27 can synergize with MVA to elicit robust protection that has a dose-sparing effect on MVA and can accelerate protection by eliminating the need for a booster dose.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The smallpox vaccine Dryvax, which consists of replication-competent vaccinia virus, elicits antibodies that play a major role in protection. Several vaccinia proteins generate neutralizing antibodies, but their importance for protection is unknown. We investigated the potency of antibodies to the A27 protein of the mature virion in neutralization and protection experiments and the contributions of A27 antibodies to Dryvax-induced immunity. Using a recombinant A27 protein (rA27), we confirmed that A27 contains neutralizing determinants and that vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) derived from Dryvax recipients contains reactivity to A27. However, VIG neutralization was not significantly reduced when A27 antibodies were removed, and antibodies elicited by an rA27 enhanced the protection conferred by VIG in passive transfer experiments. These findings demonstrate that A27 antibodies do not represent the major fraction of neutralizing activity in VIG and suggest that immunity may be augmented by vaccines and immune globulins that include strong antibody responses to A27.
Preview · Article · Nov 2007 · The Journal of Infectious Diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using vaccinia immune globulin (VIG), a high-titer antibody preparation from immunized subjects, we demonstrate that the humoral immune response in humans is directed against numerous antigens in the Dryvax vaccine strain. Western blot and immunoprecipitation analyses revealed highly antigenic proteins associated with both the extracellular enveloped virus and intracellular mature virus forms. The modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), a new generation smallpox vaccine that is attenuated for replication in humans, expresses most, but not all, of the major vaccinia antigens recognized by antibodies in VIG, lacking the highly antigenic protein corresponding to the A-type inclusion body protein. Since new-generation smallpox vaccines such as MVA will require extensive comparison to traditional smallpox vaccines in animal models of immunogenicity and protection, we compared the vaccinia virus antigens recognized by VIG to those recognized by sera from Dryvax and MVA immunized mice. The humoral immune response in immunized mice is qualitatively similar to that in humans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects cells by fusing with cellular membranes. Fusion occurs when the envelope glycoprotein (Env) undergoes conformational changes while binding to cellular receptors. Fusogenic changes involve assembly of two heptad repeats in the ectodomain of the gp41 transmembrane subunit to form a six-helix bundle (6HB), consisting of a trimeric N heptad repeat (N-HR) coiled-coil core with three antiparallel C heptad repeats (C-HRs) that pack in the coiled-coil grooves. Peptides corresponding to the N-and C-HRs (N and C peptides, respectively) interfere with formation of the 6HB in a dominant-negative manner and are emerging as a new class of antiretroviral therapeutics for treating HIV infection. We generated an escape mutant virus with resistance to an N peptide and show that early resistance involved two mutations, one each in the N- and C-HRs. The mutations conferred resistance not only to the selecting N peptide but also to C peptides, as well as other types of N-peptide inhibitors. Moreover, the N-HR mutation altered sensitivity to soluble CD4. Biophysical studies suggest that the 6HB with the resistance mutations is more stable than the wild-type 6HB and the 6HB formed by inhibitor binding to either wild-type or mutant C-HR. These findings provide new insights into potential mechanisms of resistance to HIV peptide fusion inhibitors and dominant-negative inhibitors in general. The results are discussed in the context of current models of Env-mediated membrane fusion.
Preview · Article · May 2005 · Journal of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) entry into target cells requires folding of two heptad-repeat regions (N-HR and
C-HR) of gp41 into a trimer of N-HR and C-HR hairpins, which brings viral and target cell membranes together to facilitate
membrane fusion. Peptides corresponding to the N-HR and C-HR of gp41 are potent inhibitors of HIV infection. Here we report
new findings on the mechanism of inhibition of a N-HR peptide and compare these data with inhibition by a C-HR peptide. Using
intact envelope glycoprotein (Env) under fusogenic conditions, we show that the N-HR peptide preferentially binds receptor-activated
Env and that CD4 binding is sufficient for triggering conformational changes that allow the peptide to bind Env, results similar
to those seen with the C-HR peptide. However, activation by both CD4 and chemokine receptors further enhances Env binding
by both peptides. We also show that a nonconservative mutation in the N-HR of gp41 abolishes C-HR peptide but not N-HR peptide
binding to gp41. These results indicate that there are two distinct sites in receptor-activated Env that are potential targets
for drug or vaccine development.
Preview · Article · Mar 2003 · Journal of Virology