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J Virol. 2003 Jan;77(1):642-58.

Fine mapping of the interaction of neutralizing and nonneutralizing monoclonal antibodies with the CD4 binding site of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gp120.

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Department of Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Alanine scanning mutagenesis was performed on monomeric gp120 of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 to systematically identify residues important for gp120 recognition by neutralizing and nonneutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to the CD4 binding site (CD4bs). Substitutions that affected the binding of broadly neutralizing antibody b12 were compared to substitutions that affected the binding of CD4 and of two nonneutralizing anti-CD4bs antibodies (b3 and b6) with affinities for monomeric gp120 comparable to that of b12. Not surprisingly, the sensitivities to a number of amino acid changes were similar for the MAbs and for CD4. However, in contrast to what was seen for the MAbs, no enhancing mutations were observed for CD4, suggesting that the virus has evolved toward an optimal gp120-CD4 interaction. Although the epitope maps of the MAbs overlapped, a number of key differences between b12 and the other two antibodies were observed. These differences may explain why b12, in contrast to nonneutralizing antibodies, is able to interact not only with monomeric gp120 but also with functional oligomeric gp120 at the virion surface. Neutralization assays performed with pseudovirions bearing envelopes from a selection of alanine mutants mostly showed a reasonable correlation between the effects of the mutations on b12 binding to monomeric gp120 and neutralization efficacy. However, some mutations produced an effect on b12 neutralization counter to that predicted from gp120 binding data. It appears that these mutations have different effects on the b12 epitope on monomeric gp120 and functional oligomeric gp120. To determine whether monomeric gp120 can be engineered to preferentially bind MAb b12, recombinant gp120s were generated containing combinations of alanine substitutions shown to uniquely enhance b12 binding. Whereas b12 binding was maintained or increased, binding by five nonneutralizing anti-CD4bs MAbs (b3, b6, F105, 15e, and F91) was reduced or completely abolished. These reengineered gp120s are prospective immunogens that may prove capable of eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies.

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