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Vaccine. 2009 Feb 5;27(6):857-63. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.11.083. Epub 2008 Dec 10.

Cross-reactive HIV-1-neutralizing activity of serum IgG from a rabbit immunized with gp41 fused to IgG1 Fc: possible role of the prolonged half-life of the immunogen.

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Center for Cancer Research Nanobiology Program, CCR, NCI-Frederick, NIH, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


The elicitation of broadly cross-reactive HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies in humans remains a major challenge in developing a viable AIDS vaccine. We hypothesized that prolonged exposure to candidate vaccine immunogens could enhance the elicitation of such antibodies. In an attempt to develop HIV-1 vaccine immunogens with prolonged half-lives and increased stability, we constructed a fusion protein, gp41Fc, in which a truncated HIV-1 gp41(89.6) was fused to a human IgG(1) Fc. Gp41Fc is stable in solution, retains its antigenic structure and is highly immunogenic in rabbits. The serum titers reached 1:102,400 for the gp41Fc and 1:5,120 for gp140(89.6). Rabbit IgG neutralized diverse HIV-1 isolates and HIV-2, and the neutralization activity was attributed to gp41-specific IgG. The concentration of the gp41Fc in the serum correlated with the neutralization activity of rabbit IgG which recognized mostly conformation-independent epitopes on gp41 and predominantly bound to peptides derived from the gp41 immunodominant loop region. These results suggest that the prolonged half-life of gp41Fc in the serum may enhance the generation of cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies. Further research is needed to confirm and extend these results which may have implications for the development of vaccine immunogens with enhanced capability to elicit cross-reactive HIV-1-neutralizing antibodies.

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