Glycosylation Benchmark Profile for HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Production Based on Eleven Env Trimers.
ABSTRACT: HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) glycosylation is important because individual glycans are components of multiple broadly neutralizing antibody epitopes, while shielding other sites that might otherwise be immunogenic. The glycosylation on Env is influenced by a variety of factors, including the genotype of the protein, the cell line used for its expression, and the details of the construct design. Here, we used a mass spectrometry (MS)-based approach to map the complete glycosylation profile at every site in multiple HIV-1 Env trimers, accomplishing two goals. (i) We determined which glycosylation sites contain conserved glycan profiles across many trimeric Envs. (ii) We identified the variables that impact Env's glycosylation profile at sites with divergent glycosylation. Over half of the gp120 glycosylation sites on 11 different trimeric Envs have a conserved glycan profile, indicating that a native consensus glycosylation profile does indeed exist among trimers. We showed that some soluble gp120s and gp140s exhibit highly divergent glycosylation profiles compared to trimeric Env. We also assessed the impact of several variables on Env glycosylation: truncating the full-length Env; producing Env, instead of the more virologically relevant T lymphocytes, in CHO cells; and purifying Env with different chromatographic platforms, including nickel-nitrilotriacetic acid (Ni-NTA), 2G12, and PGT151 affinity. This report provides the first consensus glycosylation profile of Env trimers, which should serve as a useful benchmark for HIV-1 vaccine developers. This report also defines the sites where glycosylation may be impacted when Env trimers are truncated or produced in CHO cells.IMPORTANCE A protective HIV-1 vaccine will likely include a recombinant version of the viral envelope glycoprotein (Env). Env is highly glycosylated, and yet vaccine developers have lacked guidance on how to assess whether their immunogens have optimal glycosylation. The following important questions are still unanswered. (i) What is the "target" glycosylation profile, when the goal is to generate a natively glycosylated protein? (ii) What variables exert the greatest influence on Env glycosylation? We identified numerous sites on Env where the glycosylation profile does not deviate in 11 different Env trimers, and we investigated the impact on the divergent glycosylation profiles of changing the genotype of the Env sequence, the construct design, the purification method, and the producer cell type. The data presented here give vaccine developers a "glycosylation target" for their immunogens, and they show how protein production variables can impact Env glycosylation.
Project description:As the sole target of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) to HIV, the envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer is the focus of vaccination strategies designed to elicit protective bnAbs in humans. Because HIV Env is densely glycosylated with 75-90 N-glycans per trimer, most bnAbs use or accommodate them in their binding epitope, making the glycosylation of recombinant Env a key aspect of HIV vaccine design. Upon analysis of three HIV strains, we here find that site-specific glycosylation of Env from infectious virus closely matches Envs from corresponding recombinant membrane-bound trimers. However, viral Envs differ significantly from recombinant soluble, cleaved (SOSIP) Env trimers, strongly impacting antigenicity. These results provide a benchmark for virus Env glycosylation needed for the design of soluble Env trimers as part of an overall HIV vaccine strategy.
Project description:One of the major goals in HIV-1 vaccine development is to achieve properly folded and stabilized envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimers that mimic the native Env on the mature virion. Here, we design and characterize uncleaved prefusion-optimized (UFO) trimers for 12 Envs currently circulating in China. Biochemical and biophysical characterization of these UFO trimers identified two subtype B/B' Envs, CNE6 and MG13, which exhibited the highest trimer content and stability at a level comparable to the subtype A reference, BG505. Replacing the gp41 ectodomain (gp41<sub>ECTO</sub>) of CRF01_AE trimers with that of CNE6, MG13, and BG505 resulted in chimeric constructs with significantly improved trimer content and stability. Negative-stain electron microscopy (EM) confirmed the structural integrity of these chimeric UFO trimers with CNE6 gp41<sub>ECTO</sub>. Antibody binding assays showed that the chimeric trimers shared similar antigenic profiles to those with their original gp41<sub>ECTO</sub> domains. Our results thus revealed the intrinsic differences among HIV-1 Envs of diverse origins and the critical role of gp41<sub>ECTO</sub> in stabilizing the trimeric spike. By taking advantage of naturally stable Envs, gp41<sub>ECTO</sub> swapping may represent a universal approach for the generation of stable trimers with the desired structural and antigenic properties for downstream in vivo evaluation and vaccine development.
Project description:Soluble forms of trimeric HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) have long been sought as immunogens and as reagents for analysis of Env structure and function. Isolation of trimers that mimic native Env, derived from diverse viruses, however, represents a major challenge. Thus far, the most promising native-like (NL) structures have been obtained by engineering trimer-stabilizing mutations, termed SOSIP, into truncated Env sequences. However, the abundances of NL trimeric conformers vary among Envs, necessitating purification by monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) like PGT145, which target specific epitopes. To surmount this inherent limitation, we developed an approach that uses lectin affinity chromatography, ion-exchange chromatography, hydrophobic-interaction chromatography (HIC), and size exclusion chromatography (SEC) to isolate NL trimers from nonnative Env species. We validated this method with SOSIP trimers from HIV-1 clades A and B. Analyses by SEC, blue native PAGE, SDS-PAGE, and dynamic light scattering indicated that the resulting material was homogeneous (>95% pure), fully cleaved, and of the appropriate molecular weight and size for SOSIP trimers. Negative-stain electron microscopy further demonstrated that our preparations were composed of NL trimeric structures. By hydrogen/deuterium-exchange mass spectrometry, these HIC-pure trimers exhibited structural organization consistent with NL trimers and inconsistent with profiles seen in nonnative Envs. Screened for antigenicity, some Envs, like BS208.b1 and KNH1144 T162A, did not present the glycan/quaternary structure-dependent epitope for PGT145 binding, suggesting that these SOSIPs would be challenging to isolate by existing MAb affinity methods. By selecting based on biochemical rather than antigenic properties, our method offers an epitope-independent alternative to MAbs for isolation of NL Env trimers.The production and purification of diverse soluble Env trimers that maintain native-like (NL) structure present technical challenges that must be overcome in order to advance vaccine development and provide reagents for HIV research. Low levels of NL trimer expression amid heterogeneous Env conformers, even with the addition of stabilizing mutations, have presented a major challenge. In addition, it has been difficult to separate the NL trimers from these heterogeneous mixtures. While MAbs with specificity for quaternary NL trimer epitopes have provided one approach to purifying the desirable species, such methods are dependent on the Env displaying the proper epitope. In addition, MAb affinity chromatography can be expensive, the necessary MAb may be in limited supply, and large-scale purification may not be feasible. Our method based on biochemical separation techniques offers an epitope-independent approach to purification of NL trimers with general application to diverse Envs.
Project description:The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer, which consists of the gp120 and gp41 subunits, is the focus of multiple strategies for vaccine development. Extensive Env glycosylation provides HIV-1 with protection from the immune system, yet the glycans are also essential components of binding epitopes for numerous broadly neutralizing antibodies. Recent studies have shown that when Env is isolated from virions, its glycosylation profile differs significantly from that of soluble forms of Env (gp120 or gp140) predominantly used in vaccine discovery research. Here we show that exogenous membrane-anchored Envs, which can be produced in large quantities in mammalian cells, also display a virion-like glycan profile, where the glycoprotein is extensively decorated with high-mannose glycans. Additionally, because we characterized the glycosylation with a high-fidelity profiling method, glycopeptide analysis, an unprecedented level of molecular detail regarding membrane Env glycosylation and its heterogeneity is presented. Each glycosylation site was characterized individually, with about 500 glycoforms characterized per Env protein. While many of the sites contain exclusively high-mannose glycans, others retain complex glycans, resulting in a glycan profile that cannot currently be mimicked on soluble gp120 or gp140 preparations. These site-level studies are important for understanding antibody-glycan interactions on native Env trimers. Additionally, we report a newly observed O-linked glycosylation site, T606, and we show that the full O-linked glycosylation profile of membrane-associated Env is similar to that of soluble gp140. These findings provide new insight into Env glycosylation and clarify key molecular-level differences between membrane-anchored Env and soluble gp140.A vaccine that protects against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection should elicit antibodies that bind to the surface envelope glycoproteins on the membrane of the virus. The envelope glycoproteins have an extensive coat of carbohydrates (glycans), some of which are recognized by virus-neutralizing antibodies and some of which protect the virus from neutralizing antibodies. We found that the HIV-1 membrane envelope glycoproteins have a unique pattern of carbohydrates, with many high-mannose glycans and also, in some places, complex glycans. This pattern was very different from the carbohydrate profile seen for a more easily produced soluble version of the envelope glycoprotein. Our results provide a detailed characterization of the glycans on the natural membrane envelope glycoproteins of HIV-1, a carbohydrate profile that would be desirable to mimic with a vaccine.
Project description:The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) trimeric envelope glycoprotein (Env) is heavily glycosylated, creating a dense glycan shield that protects the underlying peptidic surface from antibody recognition. The absence of conserved glycans, due to missing potential N-linked glycosylation sites (PNGS), can result in strain-specific, autologous neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses. Here, we sought to gain a deeper understanding of the autologous neutralization by introducing holes in the otherwise dense glycan shields of the AMC011 and AMC016 SOSIP trimers. Specifically, when we knocked out the N130 and N289 glycans, which are absent from the well-characterized B41 SOSIP trimer, we observed stronger autologous NAb responses. We also analyzed the highly variable NAb responses induced in rabbits by diverse SOSIP trimers from subtypes A, B, and C. Statistical analysis, using linear regression, revealed that the cumulative area exposed on a trimer by glycan holes correlates with the magnitude of the autologous NAb response. <b>IMPORTANCE</b> Forty years after the first description of HIV-1, the search for a protective vaccine is still ongoing. The sole target for antibodies that can neutralize the virus are the trimeric envelope glycoproteins (Envs) located on the viral surface. The glycoprotein surface is covered with glycans that shield off the underlying protein components from recognition by the immune system. However, the Env trimers of some viral strains have holes in the glycan shield. Immunized animals developed antibodies against such glycan holes. These antibodies are generally strain specific. Here, we sought to gain a deeper understanding of what drives these specific immune responses. First, we show that strain-specific neutralizing antibody responses can be increased by creating artificial holes in the glycan shield. Second, when studying a diverse set of Env trimers with different characteristics, we found that the surface area of the glycan holes contributes prominently to the induction of strain-specific neutralizing antibodies.
Project description:The mature envelope glycoprotein (Env) spike on the surfaces of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected cells and virions is derived from proteolytic cleavage of a trimeric gp160 glycoprotein precursor. In these studies, we compared the conformations of cleaved and uncleaved membrane Envs with truncated cytoplasmic tails to those of stabilized soluble gp140 SOSIP.664 Env trimers. Deletion of the gp41 cytoplasmic tail did not significantly affect the sensitivity of viruses with the HIV-1AD8 Env to inhibition by antibodies or a CD4-mimetic compound. After glutaraldehyde fixation and purification from membranes, a cleaved Env exhibited a hydrodynamic radius of ?10 nm and an antibody-binding profile largely consistent with that expected based on virus neutralization sensitivity. The purified cleaved Env trimers exhibited a hollow architecture with a central void near the trimer axis. Uncleaved Env, cross-linked and purified in parallel, exhibited a hydrodynamic radius similar to that of the cleaved Env. However, the uncleaved Env was recognized by poorly neutralizing antibodies and appeared by negative-stain electron microscopy to sample multiple conformations. Compared with membrane Envs, stabilized soluble gp140 SOSIP.664 Env trimers appear to be more compact, as reflected in their smaller hydrodynamic radii and negative-stain electron microscopy structures. The antigenic features of the soluble gp140 SOSIP.664 Env trimers differed from those of the cleaved membrane Env, particularly in gp120 V3 and some CD4-binding-site epitopes. Thus, proteolytic maturation allows the membrane-anchored Env to achieve a conformation that retains functional metastability but masks epitopes for poorly neutralizing antibodies.IMPORTANCE The entry of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) into host cells is mediated by the envelope glycoprotein (Env) spike on the surface of the virus. Host antibodies elicited during natural HIV-1 infection or by vaccination can potentially recognize the Env spike and block HIV-1 infection. However, the changing shape of the HIV-1 Env spike protects the virus from antibody binding. Understanding the shapes of natural and man-made preparations of HIV-1 Envs will assist the development of effective vaccines against the virus. Here, we evaluate the effects of several Env modifications commonly used to produce Env preparations for vaccine studies and the determination of structure. We found that the cleavage of the HIV-1 Env precursor helps Env to assume its natural shape, which resists the binding of many commonly elicited antibodies. Stabilized soluble Envs exhibit more compact shapes but expose some Env elements differently than the natural Env.
Project description:As the sole viral antigen on the HIV-1-virion surface, trimeric Env is a focus of vaccine efforts. Here we present the structure of the ligand-free HIV-1-Env trimer, fix its conformation and determine its receptor interactions. Epitope analyses revealed trimeric ligand-free Env to be structurally compatible with broadly neutralizing antibodies but not poorly neutralizing ones. We coupled these compatibility considerations with binding antigenicity to engineer conformationally fixed Envs, including a 201C 433C (DS) variant specifically recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies. DS-Env retained nanomolar affinity for the CD4 receptor, with which it formed an asymmetric intermediate: a closed trimer bound by a single CD4 without the typical antigenic hallmarks of CD4 induction. Antigenicity-guided structural design can thus be used both to delineate mechanism and to fix conformation, with DS-Env trimers in virus-like-particle and soluble formats providing a new generation of vaccine antigens.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Ten to 30% of HIV-1 infected subjects develop broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) during chronic infection. We hypothesized that immunizing rabbits with viral envelope glycoproteins (Envs) from these patients may induce bNAbs, when formulated as a trimeric protein and in the presence of an adjuvant.<h4>Methods</h4>Based on in vitro neutralizing activity in serum, patients with bNAbs were selected for cloning of their HIV-1 Env. Seven stable soluble trimeric gp140 proteins were generated from sequences derived from four adults and two children infected with either clade A or B HIV-1. From one of the clade A Envs both the monomeric and trimeric Env were produced for comparison. Rabbits were immunized with soluble gp120 or trimeric gp140 proteins in combination with the adjuvant dimethyl dioctadecyl ammonium/trehalose dibehenate (CAF01). Env binding in rabbit immune serum was determined using ELISAs based on gp120-IIIB protein. Neutralizing activity of IgG purified from rabbit immune sera was measured with the pseudovirus-TZMbl assay and a PBMC-based neutralization assay for selected experiments.<h4>Results</h4>It was initially established that gp140 trimers induce better antibody responses over gp120 monomers and that the adjuvant CAF01 was necessary for such strong responses. Gp140 trimers, based on HIV-1 variants from patients with bNAbs, were able to elicit both gp120IIIB specific IgG and NAbs to Tier 1 viruses of different subtypes. Potency of NAbs closely correlated with titers, and an gp120-binding IgG titer above a threshold of 100,000 was predictive of neutralization capability. Finally, peptide inhibition experiments showed that a large fraction of the neutralizing IgG was directed against the gp120 V3 region.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our results indicate that the strategy of reverse immunology based on selected Env sequences is promising when immunogens are delivered as stabilized trimers in CAF01 adjuvant and that the rabbit is a valuable model for HIV vaccine studies.
Project description:The envelope glycoprotein (Env) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is composed of two noncovalently associated subunits: an extracellular subunit (gp120) and a transmembrane subunit (gp41). The functional unit of Env on the surface of infectious virions is a trimer of gp120/gp41 heterodimers. Env is the target of anti-HIV neutralizing antibodies. A considerable effort has been invested in the engineering of recombinant soluble forms of the virion-associated Env trimer as vaccine candidates to elicit anti-HIV neutralizing antibody responses. These soluble constructs contain three gp120 subunits and the extracellular segments of the corresponding gp41 subunits. The individual gp120/gp41 protomers on these soluble trimers are identical in amino acid sequence (homotrimers). Here, we engineered novel soluble trimeric gp140 proteins that are formed by the association of gp140 protomers that differ in amino acid sequence and glycosylation patterns (heterotrimers). Specifically, we engineered soluble heterotrimeric proteins composed of clade A and clade B Env protomers. The clade A gp140 protomers were derived from viruses isolated during acute infection (Q168a2, Q259d2.17, and Q461e2), whereas the clade B gp140 protomers were derived from a virus isolated during chronic infection (SF162). The amino acid sequence divergence between the clade A and the clade B Envs is approximately 24%. Neutralization epitopes in the CD4 binding sites and coreceptor binding sites, as well as the membrane-proximal external region (MPER), were differentially expressed on the heterotrimeric and homotrimeric proteins. The heterotrimeric gp140s elicited broader anti-tier 1 isolate neutralizing antibody responses than did the homotrimeric gp140s.
Project description:The extraordinary genetic diversity of the HIV-1 envelope spike [Env; trimeric (gp160)3, cleaved to (gp120/gp41)3] poses challenges for vaccine development. Envs of different clinical isolates exhibit different sensitivities to antibody-mediated neutralization. Envs of difficult-to-neutralize viruses are thought to be more stable and conformationally homogeneous trimers than those of easy-to-neutralize viruses, thereby providing more effective concealment of conserved, functionally critical sites. In this study we have characterized the antigenic properties of an Env derived from one of the most neutralization-resistant HIV-1 isolates, CH120.6. Sequence variation at neutralizing epitopes does not fully account for its exceptional resistance to antibodies. The full-length, membrane-bound CH120.6 Env is indeed stable and conformationally homogeneous. Its antigenicity correlates closely with its neutralization sensitivity, and major changes in antigenicity upon CD4 engagement appear to be restricted to the coreceptor site. The CH120.6 gp140 trimer, the soluble and uncleaved ectodomain of (gp160)3, retains many antigenic properties of the intact Env, consistent with a conformation close to that of Env spikes on a virion, whereas its monomeric gp120 exposes many nonneutralizing or strain-specific epitopes. Thus, trimer organization and stability are important determinants not only for occluding many epitopes but also for conferring resistance to neutralization by all but a small set of antibodies. Env preparations derived from neutralization-resistant viruses may induce irrelevant antibody responses less frequently than do other Envs and may be excellent templates for developing soluble immunogens.