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Emerg Microbes Infect. 2016 Jun 22;5:e65. doi: 10.1038/emi.2016.86.

An immunogen containing four tandem 10E8 epitope repeats with exposed key residues induces antibodies that neutralize HIV-1 and activates an ADCC reporter gene.

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Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Virology of MOE/MOH, School of Basic Medical Sciences and Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China.
National Laboratory of Biomacromolecules, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Emory Vaccine Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, New York Blood Center, New York, NY 10065, USA.


After three decades of intensive research efforts, an effective vaccine against HIV-1 remains to be developed. Several broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1, such as 10E8, recognize the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the HIV-1 gp41 protein. Thus, the MPER is considered to be a very important target for vaccine design. However, the MPER segment has very weak immunogenicity and tends to insert its epitope residues into the cell membrane, thereby avoiding antibody binding. To address this complication in vaccine development, we herein designed a peptide, designated 10E8-4P, containing four copies of the 10E8 epitope as an immunogen. As predicted by structural simulation, 10E8-4P exhibits a well-arranged tandem helical conformation, with the key residues in the 10E8 epitope oriented at different angles, thus suggesting that some of these key residues may be exposed outside of the lipid membrane. Compared with a peptide containing a single 10E8 epitope (10E8-1P), 10E8-4P not only exhibited better antigenicity but also elicited neutralizing antibody response against HIV-1 pseudoviruses, whereas 10E8-1P could not induce detectable neutralizing antibody response. Importantly, antibodies elicited by 10E8-4P also possessed a strong ability to activate an antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) reporter gene, thus suggesting that they may have ADCC activity. Therefore, this strategy shows promise for further optimization and application in future HIV-1 vaccine design.

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