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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27279. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027279. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Indirect detection of an epitope-specific response to HIV-1 gp120 immunization in human subjects.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, New York University School of Medicine (NYUSoM), New York, New York, United States of America.

Abstract

A specific response of human serum neutralizing antibodies (nAb) to a conformational epitope as a result of vaccination of human subjects with the surface envelope glycoprotein (gp120) of HIV-1 has not previously been documented. Here, we used computational analysis to assess the epitope-specific responses of human subjects, which were immunized with recombinant gp120 immunogens in the VAX003 and VAX004 clinical trials. Our computational methodology--a variation of sieve analysis--compares the occurrence of specific nAb targeted conformational 3D epitopes on viruses from infected individuals who received vaccination to the occurrence of matched epitopes in the viruses infecting placebo subjects. We specifically studied seven crystallographically defined nAb targeted conformational epitopes in the V3 loop, an immunogenic region of gp120. Of the six epitopes present in the immunogens and targeted by known monoclonal neutralizing antibodies, only the one targeted by the anti-V3 nAb 2219 exhibited a significant reduction in occurrence in vaccinated subjects compared to the placebo group. This difference occurred only in the VAX003 Thailand cohort. No difference was seen between vaccinated and placebo groups for the occurrence of an epitope that was not present in the immunogen. Thus, it can be theorized that a specific 2219-like human neutralizing antibody immune response to AIDSVAX immunization occurred in the VAX003 cohort, and that this response protected subjects from a narrow subset of HIV-1 viruses circulating in Thailand in the 1990s and bearing the conformational epitope targeted by the neutralizing antibody 2219.

PMID:
22076145
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3208624
Free PMC Article

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