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J Virol. 2006 Feb;80(4):1680-7.

Structure-function analysis of the epitope for 4E10, a broadly neutralizing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 antibody.

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epartments of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 N. Torrey Pines Rd., CVN-6, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) neutralizing antibody 4E10 binds to a linear, highly conserved epitope within the membrane-proximal external region of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp41. We have delineated the peptide epitope of the broadly neutralizing 4E10 antibody to gp41 residues 671 to 683, using peptides with different lengths encompassing the previously suggested core epitope (NWFDIT). Peptide binding to the 4E10 antibody was assessed by competition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and the K(d) values of selected peptides were determined using surface plasmon resonance. An Ala scan of the epitope indicated that several residues, W672, F673, and T676, are essential (>1,000-fold decrease in binding upon replacement with alanine) for 4E10 recognition. In addition, five other residues, N671, D674, I675, W680, and L679, make significant contributions to 4E10 binding. In general, the Ala scan results agree well with the recently reported crystal structure of 4E10 in complex with a 13-mer peptide and with our circular dichroism analyses. Neutralization competition assays confirmed that the peptide NWFDITNWLWYIKKKK-NH(2) could effectively inhibit 4E10 neutralization. Finally, to limit the conformational flexibility of the peptides, helix-promoting 2-aminoisobutyric acid residues and helix-inducing tethers were incorporated. Several peptides have significantly improved affinity (>1,000-fold) over the starting peptide and, when used as immunogens, may be more likely to elicit 4E10-like neutralizing antibodies. Hence, this study represents the first stage toward iterative development of a vaccine based on the 4E10 epitope.

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