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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 11;8(6):e66638. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066638. Print 2013.

Epitope mapping of M36, a human antibody domain with potent and broad HIV-1 inhibitory activity.

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MOH Key Laboratory of Systems Biology of Pathogens and AIDS Research Center, Institute of Pathogen Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.


M36 is the first member of a novel class of potent HIV-1 entry inhibitors based on human engineered antibody domains (eAds). It exhibits broad inhibitory activity suggesting that its CD4-induced epitope is highly conserved. Here, we describe fine mapping of its epitope by using several approaches. First, a panel of mimotopes was affinity-selected from a random peptide library and potential m36-binding residues were computationally predicted. Second, homology modeling of m36 and molecular docking of m36 onto gp120 revealed potentially important residues in gp120-m36 interactions. Third, the predicted contact residues were verified by site-directed mutagenesis. Taken together, m36 epitope comprising three discontinuous sites including six key gp120 residues (Site C1: Thr123 and Pro124; Site C3: Glu370 and Ile371; Site C4: Met426 and Trp427) were identified. In the 3D structure of gp120, the sites C1 and C4 are located in the bridging sheet and the site C3 is within the β15-α3 excursion, which play essential roles for the receptor- and coreceptor-binding and are major targets of neutralizing antibodies. Based on these results we propose a precise localization of the m36 epitope and suggest a mechanism of its broad inhibitory activity which could help in the development of novel HIV-1 therapeutics based on eAds.

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