Structural basis for germline antibody recognition of HIV-1 immunogens.
ABSTRACT: Efforts to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against HIV-1 require understanding germline bNAb recognition of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env). The VRC01-class bNAb family derived from the VH1-2*02 germline allele arose in multiple HIV-1-infected donors, yet targets the CD4-binding site on Env with common interactions. Modified forms of the 426c Env that activate germline-reverted B cell receptors are candidate immunogens for eliciting VRC01-class bNAbs. We present structures of germline-reverted VRC01-class bNAbs alone and complexed with 426c-based gp120 immunogens. Germline bNAb-426c gp120 complexes showed preservation of VRC01-class signature residues and gp120 contacts, but detectably different binding modes compared to mature bNAb-gp120 complexes. Unlike typical antibody-antigen interactions, VRC01-class germline antibodies exhibited preformed antigen-binding conformations for recognizing immunogens. Affinity maturation introduced substitutions increasing induced-fit recognition and electropositivity, potentially to accommodate negatively-charged complex-type N-glycans on gp120. These results provide general principles relevant to the unusual evolution of VRC01-class bNAbs and guidelines for structure-based immunogen design.
Project description:A major goal of HIV-1 vaccine research is the design of immunogens capable of inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) that bind to the viral envelope glycoprotein (Env). Poor binding of Env to unmutated precursors of bnAbs, including those of the VRC01 class, appears to be a major problem for bnAb induction. We engineered an immunogen that binds to VRC01-class bnAb precursors and immunized knock-in mice expressing germline-reverted VRC01 heavy chains. Induced antibodies showed characteristics of VRC01-class bnAbs, including a short CDRL3 (light-chain complementarity-determining region 3) and mutations that favored binding to near-native HIV-1 gp120 constructs. In contrast, native-like immunogens failed to activate VRC01-class precursors. The results suggest that rational epitope design can prime rare B cell precursors for affinity maturation to desired targets.
Project description:Broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) induction is a high priority for effective HIV-1 vaccination. VRC01-class bnAbs that target the CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of trimeric HIV-1 envelope (Env) glycoprotein spikes are particularly attractive to elicit because of their extraordinary breadth and potency of neutralization in vitro and their ability to protect against infection in animal models. Glycans bordering the CD4bs impede the binding of germline-reverted forms of VRC01-class bnAbs and therefore constitute a barrier to early events in initiating the correct antibody lineages. Deleting a subset of these glycans permits Env antigen binding but not virus neutralization, suggesting that additional barriers impede germline-reverted VRC01-class antibody binding to functional Env trimers. We investigated the requirements for functional Env trimer engagement of VRC01-class naïve B cell receptors by using virus neutralization and germline-reverted antibodies as surrogates for the interaction. Targeted deletion of a subset of N-glycans bordering the CD4bs, combined with Man5 enrichment of remaining N-linked glycans that are otherwise processed into larger complex-type glycans, rendered HIV-1 426c Env-pseudotyped virus (subtype C, transmitted/founder) highly susceptible to neutralization by near germline forms of VRC01-class bnAbs. Neither glycan modification alone rendered the virus susceptible to neutralization. The potency of neutralization in some cases rivaled the potency of mature VRC01 against wildtype viruses. Neutralization by the germline-reverted antibodies was abrogated by the known VRC01 resistance mutation, D279K. These findings improve our understanding of the restrictions imposed by glycans in eliciting VRC01-class bnAbs and enable a neutralization-based strategy to monitor vaccine-elicited early precursors of this class of bnAbs.
Project description:VRC01 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) target the CD4-binding site (CD4BS) of the human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (Env). Unlike mature antibodies, corresponding VRC01 germline precursors poorly bind to Env. Immunogen design has mostly relied on glycan removal from trimeric Env constructs and has had limited success in eliciting mature VRC01 bnAbs. To better understand elicitation of such bnAbs, we characterized the inferred germline precursor of VRC01 in complex with a modified trimeric 426c Env by cryo-electron microscopy and a 426c gp120 core by X-ray crystallography, biolayer interferometry, immunoprecipitation, and glycoproteomics. Our results show VRC01 germline antibodies interacted with a wild-type 426c core lacking variable loops 1-3 in the presence and absence of a glycan at position Asn276, with the latter form binding with higher affinity than the former. Interactions in the presence of an Asn276 oligosaccharide could be enhanced upon carbohydrate shortening, which should be considered for immunogen design.
Project description:VRC01-class broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) target the CD4-binding site (CD4BS) of the human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (Env) and are of major interest for vaccine design. Unlike mature antibodies, corresponding VRC01-class germline precursors poorly bind to Env due to their weak ability to overcome the steric hindrance imparted by the glycans surrounding the CD4 BS. To date, immunogen design initiatives have largely relied on removal of these glycans and have met limited success in eliciting VRC01-class bnAbs. To understand elicitation of such bnAbs in humans, we structurally characterized the inferred germline precursor of VRC01 in complex with wild-type core gp120 by X-ray crystallography and modified trimeric 426c Env constructs by single-particle electron microscopy. We then validated glycan length and composition of germline VRC01-compatible Env constructs by EThcD LC-MS/MS. Our results reveal that engagement of the VRC01 germline antibody by a wild-type 426c gp120 is possible and can be enhanced by tailoring glycan length in the vicinity of the CD4BS.
Project description:Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against HIV are believed to be a critical component of the protective responses elicited by an effective HIV vaccine. Neutralizing antibodies against the evolutionarily conserved CD4-binding site (CD4-BS) on the HIV envelope glycoprotein (Env) are capable of inhibiting infection of diverse HIV strains, and have been isolated from HIV-infected individuals. Despite the presence of anti-CD4-BS broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) epitopes on recombinant Env, Env immunization has so far failed to elicit such antibodies. Here, we show that Env immunogens fail to engage the germline-reverted forms of known bnAbs that target the CD4-BS. However, we found that the elimination of a conserved glycosylation site located in Loop D and two glycosylation sites located in variable region 5 of Env allows Env-binding to, and activation of, B cells expressing the germline-reverted BCRs of two potent broadly neutralizing antibodies, VRC01 and NIH45-46. Our results offer a possible explanation as to why Env immunogens have been ineffective in stimulating the production of such bNAbs. Importantly, they provide key information as to how such immunogens can be engineered to initiate the process of antibody-affinity maturation against one of the most conserved Env regions.
Project description:Induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a major HIV vaccine goal. Germline-targeting immunogens aim to initiate bnAb induction by activating bnAb germline precursor B cells. Critical unmet challenges are to determine whether bnAb precursor naïve B cells bind germline-targeting immunogens and occur at sufficient frequency in humans for reliable vaccine responses. Using deep mutational scanning and multitarget optimization, we developed a germline-targeting immunogen (eOD-GT8) for diverse VRC01-class bnAbs. We then used the immunogen to isolate VRC01-class precursor naïve B cells from HIV-uninfected donors. Frequencies of true VRC01-class precursors, their structures, and their eOD-GT8 affinities support this immunogen as a candidate human vaccine prime. These methods could be applied to germline targeting for other classes of HIV bnAbs and for Abs to other pathogens.
Project description:Vaccine development to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against HIV-1 is a global health priority. Potent VRC01-class bNAbs against the CD4 binding site of HIV gp120 have been isolated from HIV-1-infected individuals; however, such bNAbs have not been induced by vaccination. Wild-type gp120 proteins lack detectable affinity for predicted germline precursors of VRC01-class bNAbs, making them poor immunogens to prime a VRC01-class response. We employed computation-guided, in vitro screening to engineer a germline-targeting gp120 outer domain immunogen that binds to multiple VRC01-class bNAbs and germline precursors, and elucidated germline binding crystallographically. When multimerized on nanoparticles, this immunogen (eOD-GT6) activates germline and mature VRC01-class B cells. Thus, eOD-GT6 nanoparticles have promise as a vaccine prime. In principle, germline-targeting strategies could be applied to other epitopes and pathogens.
Project description:Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against the N332 supersite of the HIV envelope (Env) trimer are the most common bnAbs induced during infection, making them promising leads for vaccine design. Wild-type Env glycoproteins lack detectable affinity for supersite-bnAb germline precursors and are therefore unsuitable immunogens to prime supersite-bnAb responses. We employed mammalian cell surface display to design stabilized Env trimers with affinity for germline-reverted precursors of PGT121-class supersite bnAbs. The trimers maintained native-like antigenicity and structure, activated PGT121 inferred-germline B cells ex vivo when multimerized on liposomes, and primed PGT121-like responses in PGT121 inferred-germline knockin mice. Design intermediates have levels of epitope modification between wild-type and germline-targeting trimers; their mutation gradient suggests sequential immunization to induce bnAbs, in which the germline-targeting prime is followed by progressively less-mutated design intermediates and, lastly, with native trimers. The vaccine design strategies described could be utilized to target other epitopes on HIV or other pathogens.
Project description:The gp120 subunit of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) protein is heavily glycosylated at ∼25 glycosylation sites, of which ∼7-8 are located in the V1/V2 and V3 variable loops and the others in the remaining core gp120 region. Glycans partially shield Env from recognition by the host immune system and also are believed to be indispensable for proper folding of gp120 and for viral infectivity. Previous attempts to alter glycosylation sites in Env typically involved mutating the glycosylated asparagine residues to structurally similar glutamines or alanines. Here, we confirmed that such mutations at multiple glycosylation sites greatly diminish viral infectivity and result in significantly reduced binding to both neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies. Therefore, using an alternative approach, we combined evolutionary information with structure-guided design and yeast surface display to produce properly cleaved HIV-1 Env variants that lack all 15 core gp120 glycans, yet retain conformational integrity and multiple-cycle viral infectivity and bind to several broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), including trimer-specific antibodies and a germline-reverted version of the bNAb VRC01. Our observations demonstrate that core gp120 glycans are not essential for folding, and hence their likely primary role is enabling immune evasion. We also show that our glycan removal approach is not strain restricted. Glycan-deficient Env derivatives can be used as priming immunogens because they should engage and activate a more divergent set of germlines than fully glycosylated Env. In conclusion, these results clarify the role of core gp120 glycosylation and illustrate a general method for designing glycan-free folded protein derivatives.
Project description:Induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a primary goal of HIV vaccine development. VRC01-class bnAbs are important vaccine leads because their precursor B cells targeted by an engineered priming immunogen are relatively common among humans. This priming immunogen has demonstrated the ability to initiate a bnAb response in animal models, but recall and maturation toward bnAb development has not been shown. Here, we report the development of boosting immunogens designed to guide the genetic and functional maturation of previously primed VRC01-class precursors. Boosting a transgenic mouse model expressing germline VRC01 heavy chains produced broad neutralization of near-native isolates (N276A) and weak neutralization of fully native HIV. Functional and genetic characteristics indicate that the boosted mAbs are consistent with partially mature VRC01-class antibodies and place them on a maturation trajectory that leads toward mature VRC01-class bnAbs. The results show how reductionist sequential immunization can guide maturation of HIV bnAb responses.