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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Oct 18;102(42):14943-8. Epub 2005 Oct 11.

Antibody vs. HIV in a clash of evolutionary titans.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


HIV has evolved many strategies to avoid neutralizing antibody responses, particularly to conserved regions on the external glycoprotein spikes of the virus. Nevertheless, a small number of antibodies have been evolved by the human immune system to recognize conserved parts of the glycoproteins, and therefore, have broadly neutralizing cross-strain activities. These antibodies constitute important tools in the quest to design immunogens that can elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies in humans and hence contribute to an effective HIV vaccine. Crystallographic analyses of the antibodies, in many cases in an antigen-complexed form, have revealed novel and, in some instances, remarkable structural adaptations to attain virus recognition. Antibodies, like HIV, can evolve relatively rapidly through mutation and selection. It seems that the structures of these broadly neutralizing antibodies bear witness to a heroic struggle between two titans of rapid evolution.

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