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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Jun;85(12):4478-82.

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 neutralization epitope with conserved architecture elicits early type-specific antibodies in experimentally infected chimpanzees.

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  • 1Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Chimpanzees are susceptible to infection by divergent strains of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), none of which cause clinical or immunological abnormalities. Chimpanzees were inoculated with one of four strains of HIV-1: human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) type IIIB, lymphadenopathy virus (LAV) type 1, HTLV type IIIRF, or an isolate from the brain of a patient with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Within 6 months after inoculation with the closely related strains HTLV-IIIB or LAV-1, six chimpanzees developed serum antibodies to the C-terminal half (amino acids 288-467) of the HTLV-IIIB external envelope glycoprotein gp120. Sera from five of those chimpanzees had HTLV-IIIB cell-fusion-inhibiting antibody titers greater than or equal to 20 at that time, indicating that they neutralized the infecting strain of HIV-1 in vitro. No antibodies to the carboxyl terminus of HTLV-IIIB gp120 were observed in sera of chimpanzees inoculated with HTLV-IIIRF or with the brain-tissue strain, and those sera did not neutralize HTLV-IIIB. A rabbit immunized with the C-terminal portion of gp120 acquired neutralizing antibodies that bound to four domains of the HTLV-IIIB external envelope as analyzed by reactivity to 536 overlapping nonapeptides of gp120. One of these domains in the variable region V3, with the amino acid sequence IRIQRGPGRAFVTIG (amino acids 307-321), bound to all chimpanzee sera that neutralized HTLV-IIIB but not to the serum of the HTLV-IIIRF-inoculated chimpanzee that did not neutralize HTLV-IIIB. The HTLV-IIIRF sequence at the same location, ITKGPGRVIYA, was recognized by the serum of the HTLV-IIIRF-inoculated chimpanzee but not by any sera of the HTLV-IIIB-inoculated or LAV-1-inoculated chimpanzees. The HTLV-IIIB residues RIQR and AFV and the HTLV-IIIRF residues lysine and VIYA, flanking a highly conserved beta-turn (GPGR), appear to be critical for antibody binding and subsequent type-specific virus neutralization. This neutralization epitope, putatively consisting of a loop between two cysteine residues (amino acids 296 and 331) connected by a disulfide bond, is immunodominant in HIV-1-infected chimpanzees and induces antibodies restricted to the homologous viral strain.

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