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PLoS One. 2014 Jul 3;9(7):e99881. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099881. eCollection 2014.

Transplanting supersites of HIV-1 vulnerability.

Author information

Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.
Department of Immunology and Microbial Science and IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center, and Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Design, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, United States of America; Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), New York, New York, United States of America.
HIV-Specific Immunity Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2014;9(8); e105659. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105659. Kwon, Peter D [corrected to Kwong, Peter D].


One strategy for isolating or eliciting antibodies against a specific target region on the envelope glycoprotein trimer (Env) of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) involves the creation of site transplants, which present the target region on a heterologous protein scaffold with preserved antibody-binding properties. If the target region is a supersite of HIV-1 vulnerability, recognized by a collection of broadly neutralizing antibodies, this strategy affords the creation of "supersite transplants", capable of binding (and potentially eliciting) antibodies similar to the template collection of effective antibodies. Here we transplant three supersites of HIV-1 vulnerability, each targeted by effective neutralizing antibodies from multiple donors. To implement our strategy, we chose a single representative antibody against each of the target supersites: antibody 10E8, which recognizes the membrane-proximal external region (MPER) on the HIV-1 gp41 glycoprotein; antibody PG9, which recognizes variable regions one and two (V1V2) on the HIV-1 gp120 glycoprotein; and antibody PGT128 which recognizes a glycopeptide supersite in variable region 3 (glycan V3) on gp120. We used a structural alignment algorithm to identify suitable acceptor proteins, and then designed, expressed, and tested antigenically over 100-supersite transplants in a 96-well microtiter-plate format. The majority of the supersite transplants failed to maintain the antigenic properties of their respective template supersite. However, seven of the glycan V3-supersite transplants exhibited nanomolar affinity to effective neutralizing antibodies from at least three donors and recapitulated the mannose9-N-linked glycan requirement of the template supersite. The binding of these transplants could be further enhanced by placement into self-assembling nanoparticles. Essential elements of the glycan V3 supersite, embodied by as few as 3 N-linked glycans and ∼ 25 Env residues, can be segregated into acceptor scaffolds away from the immune-evading capabilities of the rest of HIV-1 Env, thereby providing a means to focus the immune response on the scaffolded supersite.

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