Strategies to guide the antibody affinity maturation process.
ABSTRACT: Antibodies with protective activity are critical for vaccine efficacy. Affinity maturation increases antibody activity through multiple rounds of somatic hypermutation and selection in the germinal center. Identification of HIV-1 specific and influenza-specific antibody developmental pathways, as well as characterization of B cell and virus co-evolution in patients, has informed our understanding of antibody development. In order to counteract HIV-1 and influenza viral diversity, broadly neutralizing antibodies precisely target specific sites of vulnerability and require high levels of affinity maturation. We present immunization strategies that attempt to recapitulate these natural processes and guide the affinity maturation process.
Project description:The population dynamics theory of B cells in a typical germinal center could play an important role in revealing how affinity maturation is achieved. However, the existing models encountered some conflicts with experiments. To resolve these conflicts, we present a coarse-grained model to calculate the B cell population development in affinity maturation, which allows a comprehensive analysis of its parameter space to look for optimal values of mutation rate, selection strength, and initial antibody-antigen binding level that maximize the affinity improvement. With these optimized parameters, the model is compatible with the experimental observations such as the approximately 100-fold affinity improvements, the number of mutations, the hypermutation rate, and the "all or none" phenomenon. Moreover, we study the reasons behind the optimal parameters. The optimal mutation rate, in agreement with the hypermutation rate in vivo, results from a tradeoff between accumulating enough beneficial mutations and avoiding too many deleterious or lethal mutations. The optimal selection strength evolves as a balance between the need for affinity improvement and the requirement to pass the population bottleneck. These findings point to the conclusion that germinal centers have been optimized by evolution to generate strong affinity antibodies effectively and rapidly. In addition, we study the enhancement of affinity improvement due to B cell migration between germinal centers. These results could enhance our understanding of the functions of germinal centers.
Project description:Affinity maturation, the process in which somatic hypermutation and positive selection generate antibodies with increasing affinity for an antigen, is pivotal in acquired humoral immunity. We have studied the mechanism of affinity gain in a human B-cell lineage in which two main maturation pathways, diverging from a common ancestor, lead to three mature antibodies that neutralize a broad range of H1 influenza viruses. Previous work showed that increased affinity in the mature antibodies derives primarily from stabilization of the CDR H3 loop in the antigen-binding conformation. We have now used molecular dynamics simulations and existing crystal structures to identify potentially key maturation mutations, and we have characterized their effects on the CDR H3 loop and on antigen binding using further simulations and experimental affinity measurements, respectively. In the two maturation pathways, different contacts between light and heavy chains stabilize the CDR H3 loop. As few as two single-site mutations in each pathway can confer substantial loop stability, but none of them confers experimentally detectable stability on its own. Our results support models of the germinal center reaction in which two or more mutations can occur without concomitant selection and show how divergent pathways have yielded functionally equivalent antibodies.
Project description:Germinal centers (GCs) are major sites of clonal B cell expansion and generation of long-lived, high-affinity antibody responses to pathogens. Signaling through TLRs on B cells promotes many aspects of GC B cell responses, including affinity maturation, class switching, and differentiation into long-lived memory and plasma cells. A major challenge for effective vaccination is identifying strategies to specifically promote GC B cell responses. Here, we have identified a mechanism of regulation of GC B cell TLR signaling, mediated by ?v integrins and noncanonical autophagy. Using B cell-specific ?v-KO mice, we show that loss of ?v-mediated TLR regulation increased GC B cell expansion, somatic hypermutation, class switching, and generation of long-lived plasma cells after immunization with virus-like particles (VLPs) or antigens associated with TLR ligand adjuvants. Furthermore, targeting ?v-mediated regulation increased the magnitude and breadth of antibody responses to influenza virus vaccination. These data therefore identify a mechanism of regulation of GC B cells that can be targeted to enhance antibody responses to vaccination.
Project description:Antibody (Ab) affinity maturation enables an individual to maintain immunity to an increasing number of pathogens within the limits of a total Ig production threshold. A better understanding of this process is critical for designing vaccines that generate optimal Ab responses to pathogens. Our study describes a simple flow-cytometric method that enumerates virus-specific germinal center (GC) B cells as well as their AC50, a measure of Ab avidity, defined as the antigen concentration required to detect 50% of specific B cells. Using a model of mouse Ab responses to the influenza A virus hemagglutinin (IAV HA), we obtained data indicating that AC50 decreases with time postinfection in an affinity maturation-dependent process. As proof of principle of the utility of the method, our data clearly show that relative to intranasal IAV infection, intramuscular immunization against inactivated IAV in adjuvant results in a diminished GC HA B cell response, with increased AC50 correlating with an increased serum Ab off-rate. Enabling simultaneous interrogation of both GC HA B cell quantity and quality, this technique should facilitate study of affinity maturation and rational vaccine design.Though it was first described 50 years ago, little is known about how antibody affinity maturation contributes to immunity. This question is particularly relevant to developing more effective vaccines for influenza A virus (IAV) and other viruses that are difficult vaccine targets. Limitations in methods for characterizing antigen-specific B cells have impeded progress in characterizing the quality of immune responses to vaccine and natural immunogens. In this work, we describe a simple flow cytometry-based approach that measures both the number and affinity of IAV-binding germinal center B cells specific for the IAV HA, the major target of IAV-neutralizing antibodies. Using this method, we showed that the route and form of immunization significantly impacts the quality and quantity of B cell antibody responses. This method provides a relatively simple yet powerful tool for better understanding the contribution of affinity maturation to viral immunity.
Project description:Antibody somatic hypermutation (SHM) and affinity maturation enhance antigen recognition by modifying antibody paratope structure to improve its complementarity with the target epitope. SHM-induced changes in paratope dynamics may also contribute to antibody maturation, but direct evidence of this is limited. Here, we examine two classes of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) for SHM-induced changes in structure and dynamics, and delineate the effects of these changes on interactions with the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env). In combination with new and existing structures of unmutated and affinity matured antibody Fab fragments, we used hydrogen/deuterium exchange with mass spectrometry to directly measure Fab structural dynamics. Changes in antibody structure and dynamics were positioned to improve complementarity with Env, with changes in dynamics primarily observed at the paratope peripheries. We conclude that SHM optimizes paratope complementarity to conserved HIV-1 epitopes and restricts the mobility of paratope-peripheral residues to minimize clashes with variable features on HIV-1 Env.
Project description:Antibodies have the specificity to differentiate foreign antigens that mimic self antigens, but it remains unclear how such specificity is acquired. In a mouse model, we generated B cells displaying an antibody that cross-reacts with two related protein antigens expressed on self versus foreign cells. B cell anergy was imposed by self antigen but reversed upon challenge with high-density foreign antigen, leading to germinal center recruitment and antibody gene hypermutation. Single-cell analysis detected rapid selection for mutations that decrease self affinity and slower selection for epistatic mutations that specifically increase foreign affinity. Crystal structures revealed that these mutations exploited subtle topological differences to achieve 5000-fold preferential binding to foreign over self epitopes. Resolution of antigenic mimicry drove the optimal affinity maturation trajectory, highlighting the value of retaining self-reactive clones as substrates for protective antibody responses.
Project description:HIV-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) confer protection after passive immunization, but the immunological mechanisms that drive their development are poorly understood. Structural features of bNAbs indicate that they originate from extensive germinal center (GC) selection, which relies on persistent GC activity. However, why a fraction of infected individuals are able to successfully drive more effective affinity maturation is unclear. Delivery of antigens in the form of antibody-immune complexes (ICs), which bind to complement receptors (CRs) or Fc receptors (FcRs) on follicular dendritic cells, represents an effective mechanism for antigen delivery to the GC. We sought to define whether IC-FcR or CR interactions differ among individuals who develop bNAb responses to HIV. Enhanced Fc effector functions and FcR/CR interactions, via altered Fc glycosylation profiles, were observed among individuals with neutralizing antibody responses to HIV compared with those without neutralizing antibody activity. Moreover, both polyclonal neutralizer ICs and monoclonal IC mimics of neutralizer antibodies induced higher antibody titers, higher-avidity antibodies, and expanded GC B cell reactions after immunization of mice via accelerated antigen deposition within B cell follicles in a complement-dependent manner. Thus, these data point to a direct role for altered Fc profile/complement interactions in shaping the maturation of the humoral immune response, providing insights into how GC activity may be enhanced to drive affinity maturation in next-generation vaccine approaches.
Project description:A hallmark of T cell-dependent immune responses is the progressive increase in the ability of serum antibodies to bind antigen and provide immune protection. Affinity maturation of the antibody response is thought to be connected with the preferential survival of germinal centre (GC) B cells that have acquired increased affinity for antigen via somatic hypermutation of their immunoglobulin genes. However, the mechanisms that drive affinity maturation remain obscure because of the difficulty in tracking the affinity-based selection of GC B cells and their differentiation into plasma cells. We describe a powerful new model that allows these processes to be followed as they occur in vivo. In contrast to evidence from in vitro systems, responding GC B cells do not undergo plasma cell differentiation stochastically. Rather, only GC B cells that have acquired high affinity for the immunizing antigen form plasma cells. Affinity maturation is therefore driven by a tightly controlled mechanism that ensures only antibodies with the greatest possibility of neutralizing foreign antigen are produced. Because the body can sustain only limited numbers of plasma cells, this "quality control" over plasma cell differentiation is likely critical for establishing effective humoral immunity.
Project description:To date, there has been no systematic study of the process of affinity maturation of human antibodies. We therefore sequenced the variable region genes (V genes) of 14 human monoclonal antibodies specific for the erythrocyte Rh(D) alloantigen and determined the germline gene segments of origin and extent of somatic hypermutation. These data were correlated with determinations of antibody affinity. The four IgM antibodies (low affinity) appear to be derived from two germline heavy chain variable region gene segments and one or two germline light chain variable region gene segments and were not extensively mutated. The 10 IgG antibodies (higher affinity) appear to be derived from somatic hypermutation of these V gene segments and by use of new V gene segments or V gene segment combinations (repertoire shift). Affinity generally increased with increasing somatic hypermutation; on average, there were 8.9 point mutations in the V gene segments of the four IgM antibodies (Ka = 1-4 x 10(7)/M-1) compared with 19 point mutations in the V gene segments of the 10 IgG antibodies. The four highest affinity antibodies (Ka = 0.9-3 x 10(9)/M-1) averaged 25.5 point mutations. The use of repertoire shift and somatic hypermutation in affinity maturation of human alloantibodies is similar to data obtained in inbred mice immunized with haptens.
Project description:Affinity maturation of the antibody response is a fundamental process in adaptive immunity during which B-cells activated by infection or vaccination undergo rapid proliferation accompanied by the acquisition of point mutations in their rearranged immunoglobulin (Ig) genes and selection for increased affinity for the eliciting antigen. The rate of somatic hypermutation at any position within an Ig gene is known to depend strongly on the local DNA sequence, and Ig genes have region-specific codon biases that influence the local mutation rate within the gene resulting in increased differential mutability in the regions that encode the antigen-binding domains. We have isolated a set of clonally related natural Ig heavy chain-light chain pairs from an experimentally infected influenza patient, inferred the unmutated ancestral rearrangements and the maturation intermediates, and synthesized all the antibodies using recombinant methods. The lineage exhibits a remarkably uniform rate of improvement of the effective affinity to influenza hemagglutinin (HA) over evolutionary time, increasing 1000-fold overall from the unmutated ancestor to the best of the observed antibodies. Furthermore, analysis of selection reveals that selection and mutation bias were concordant even at the level of maturation to a single antigen. Substantial improvement in affinity to HA occurred along mutationally preferred paths in sequence space and was thus strongly facilitated by the underlying local codon biases.