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J Virol. 2012 Feb;86(4):2153-64. doi: 10.1128/JVI.06201-11. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

High-mannose glycan-dependent epitopes are frequently targeted in broad neutralizing antibody responses during human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection.

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Division of Viral Pathogenesis, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Broad and potent neutralizing antibody (BNAb) responses are rare in people infected by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Clearly defining the nature of BNAb epitopes on HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Envs) targeted in vivo is critical for future directions of anti-HIV-1 vaccine development. Conventional techniques are successful in defining neutralizing epitopes in a small number of individual subjects but fail in studying large groups of subjects. Two independent methods were employed to investigate the nature of NAb epitopes targeted in 9 subjects, identified by the NIAID Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) 001 and 008 clinical teams, known to make a strong BNAb response. Neutralizing activity from 8/9 subjects was enhanced by enriching high-mannose N-linked glycan (HM-glycan) of HIV-1 glycoproteins on neutralization target viruses and was sensitive to specific glycan deletion mutations of HIV-1 glycoproteins, indicating that HM-glycan-dependent epitopes are targeted by BNAb responses in these subjects. This discovery adds to accumulating evidence supporting the hypothesis that glycans are important targets on HIV-1 glycoproteins for BNAb responses in vivo, providing an important lead for future directions in developing NAb-based anti-HIV-1 vaccines.

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