Publications
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Title & Authors Journal Publication Date

Antibody Recognition of the Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin Receptor Binding Site


Hong M, Lee PS, Hoffman RM, Zhu X, Krause JC, Laursen NS, Yoon SI, Song L, Tussey L, Crowe JE Jr, Ward AB, Wilson IA
Journal of Virology Nov. 20, 2013

ABSTRACT Influenza virus is a global health concern due to its unpredictable pandemic potential. This potential threat was realized in 2009 when an H1N1 virus emerged that resembled the 1918 virus in antigenicity but fortunately was not nearly as deadly. 5J8 is a human antibody that potently neutralizes a broad spectrum of H1N1 viruses, including the 1918 and 2009 pandemic viruses. Here, we present the crystal structure of 5J8 Fab in complex with a bacterially expressed and refolded globular head domain from the hemagglutinin (HA) of the A/California/07/2009 (H1N1) pandemic virus. 5J8 recognizes a conserved epitope in and around the receptor binding site (RBS), and its HCDR3 closely mimics interactions of the sialic acid receptor. Electron microscopy (EM) reconstructions of 5J8 Fab in complex with an HA trimer from a 1986 H1 strain and with an engineered stabilized HA trimer from the 2009 H1 pandemic virus showed a similar mode of binding. As for other characterized RBS-targeted antibodies, 5J8 uses avidity to extend its breadth and affinity against divergent H1 strains. 5J8 selectively interacts with HA insertion residue 133a, which is conserved in pandemic H1 strains and has precluded binding of other RBS-targeted antibodies. Thus, the RBS of divergent HAs is targeted by 5J8 and adds to the growing arsenal of common recognition motifs for design of therapeutics and vaccines. Moreover, consistent with previous studies, the bacterially expressed H1 HA properly refolds, retaining its antigenic structure, and presents a low-cost and rapid alternative for engineering and manufacturing candidate flu vaccines.

Cleavage-Independent HIV-1 Env Trimers Engineered as Soluble Native Spike Mimetics for Vaccine Design


Sharma SK, de Val N, Bale S, Guenaga J, Tran K, Feng Y, Dubrovskaya V, Ward AB, Wyatt RT
Cell Reports Nov. 5, 2013

Viral glycoproteins mediate entry by pH-activated or receptor-engaged activation and exist in metastable pre-fusogenic states that may be stabilized by directed rational design. As recently reported, the conformationally fixed HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimers in the pre-fusion state (SOSIP) display molecular homogeneity and structural integrity at relatively high levels of resolution. However, the SOSIPs necessitate full Env precursor cleavage, which requires endogenous furin overexpression. Here, we developed an alternative strategy using flexible peptide covalent linkage of Env subdomains to produce soluble, homogeneous, and cleavage-independent Env mimics, called native flexibly linked (NFL) trimers, as vaccine candidates. This simplified design avoids the need for furin co-expression and, in one case, antibody affinity purification to accelerate trimer scale-up for preclinical and clinical applications. We have successfully translated the NFL design to multiple HIV-1 subtypes, establishing the potential to become a general method of producing native-like, well-ordered Env trimers for HIV-1 or other viruses.

Human antibody recognition of H7N9 influenza virus HA following natural infection


Gilchuk IM, Bangaru S, Kose N, Bombardi RG, Trivette A, Li S, Turner HL, Carnahan RH, Ward AB, Crowe JE Jr.
JCI Insight Oct. 20, 2013

Avian H7N9 influenza viruses cause sporadic outbreaks of human infections and threaten to cause a major pandemic. The breadth of B cell responses to natural infection and the dominant antigenic sites recognized during first exposure to H7 HA following infection are incompletely understood. Here, we studied the B cell response to H7 HA of 2 individuals who had recovered from natural H7N9 virus infection. We used competition binding, hydrogen-deuterium mass spectrometry, and single-particle negative stain electron microscopy to identify the patterns of molecular recognition of the antibody responses to H7 HA. We found that circulating H7-reactive B cells recognized a diverse antigenic landscape on the HA molecule, including HA head domain epitopes in antigenic sites A and B and in the trimer interface-II region and epitopes in the stem region. Most H7 antibodies exhibited little heterosubtypic breadth, but many recognized a wide diversity of unrelated H7 strains. We tested the antibodies for functional activity and identified clones with diverse patterns of inhibition, including neutralizing, hemagglutination- or egress-inhibiting, or HA trimer–disrupting activities. Thus, the human B cell response to primary H7 natural infection is diverse, highly functional, and broad for recognition of diverse H7 strains.

A Next-Generation Cleaved, Soluble HIV-1 Env Trimer, BG505 SOSIP.664 gp140, Expresses Multiple Epitopes for Broadly Neutralizing but Not Non-Neutralizing Antibodies


Sanders RW, Derking R, Cupo A, Julien JP, Yasmeen A, de Val N, Kim HJ, Blattner C, de la Pena AT, Korzun J, Golabek M, de Los Reyes K, Ketas TJ, van Gils MJ, King CR, Wilson IA, Ward AB, Klasse PJ, Moore JP
PLoS Pathogens Sept. 20, 2013

A desirable but as yet unachieved property of a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine candidate is the ability to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs). One approach to the problem is to create trimeric mimics of the native envelope glycoprotein (Env) spike that expose as many bNAb epitopes as possible, while occluding those for non-neutralizing antibodies (non-NAbs). Here, we describe the design and properties of soluble, cleaved SOSIP.664 gp140 trimers based on the subtype A transmitted/founder strain, BG505. These trimers are highly stable, more so even than the corresponding gp120 monomer, as judged by differential scanning calorimetry. They are also homogenous and closely resemble native virus spikes when visualized by negative stain electron microscopy (EM). We used several techniques, including ELISA and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), to determine the relationship between the ability of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to bind the soluble trimers and neutralize the corresponding virus. In general, the concordance was excellent, in that virtually all bNAbs against multiple neutralizing epitopes on HIV-1 Env were highly reactive with the BG505 SOSIP.664 gp140 trimers, including quaternary epitopes (CH01, PG9, PG16 and PGT145). Conversely, non-NAbs to the CD4-binding site, CD4-induced epitopes or gp41ECTO did not react with the trimers, even when their epitopes were present on simpler forms of Env (e.g. gp120 monomers or dissociated gp41 subunits). Three non-neutralizing MAbs to V3 epitopes did, however, react strongly with the trimers but only by ELISA, and not at all by SPR and to only a limited extent by EM. These new soluble trimers are useful for structural studies and are being assessed for their performance as immunogens.

Influenza chimeric hemagglutinin structures in complex with broadly protective antibodies to the stem and trimer interface


Zhu X, Han J, Sun W, Puente-Massaguer E, Yu W, Palese P, Krammer F, Ward AB, Wilson IA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Sept. 20, 2013

Influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) has been the primary target for influenza vaccine development. Broadly protective antibodies targeting conserved regions of the HA unlock the possibility of generating universal influenza immunity. Two group 2 influenza A chimeric HAs, cH4/3 and cH15/3, were previously designed to elicit antibodies to the conserved HA stem. Here, we show by X-ray crystallography and negative-stain electron microscopy that a broadly protective antistem antibody can stably bind to cH4/3 and cH15/3 HAs, thereby validating their potential as universal vaccine immunogens. Furthermore, flexibility was observed in the head domain of the chimeric HA structures, suggesting that antibodies could also potentially interact with the head interface epitope. Our structural and binding studies demonstrated that a broadly protective antihead trimeric interface antibody could indeed target the more open head domain of the cH15/3 HA trimer. Thus, in addition to inducing broadly protective antibodies against the conserved HA stem, chimeric HAs may also be able to elicit antibodies against the conserved trimer interface in the HA head domain, thereby increasing the vaccine efficacy.

Structural Characterization of Cleaved, Soluble HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Trimers


Khayat R, Lee JH, Julien JP, Cupo A, Klasse PJ, Sanders RW, Moore JP, Wilson IA, Ward AB
Journal of Virology Sept. 20, 2013

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is a significant global public health problem for which development of an effective prophylactic vaccine remains a high scientific priority. Many concepts for a vaccine are focused on induction of appropriate titers of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against the viral envelope (Env) glycoproteins gp120 and gp41, but no immunogen has yet accomplished this goal in animals or humans. One approach to induction of bNAbs is to design soluble, trimeric mimics of the native viral Env trimer. Here, we describe structural studies by negative-stain electron microscopy of several variants of soluble Env trimers based on the KNH1144 subtype A sequence. These Env trimers are fully cleaved between the gp120 and gp41 components and stabilized by specific amino acid substitutions. We also illustrate the structural consequences of deletion of the V1/V2 and V3 variable loops from gp120 and the membrane-proximal external region (MPER) from gp41. All of these variants adopt a trimeric configuration that appropriately mimics native Env spikes, including the CD4 receptor-binding site and the epitope for the VRC PG04 bNAb. These cleaved, soluble trimer designs can be adapted for use with multiple different env genes for both vaccine and structural studies.

Supersite of immune vulnerability on the glycosylated face of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120


Kong L, Lee JH, Doores KJ, Murin CD, Julien JP, McBride R, Liu Y, Marozsan A, Cupo A, Klasse PJ, Hoffenberg S, Caulfield M, King CR, Hua Y, Le KM, Khayat R, Deller MC, Clayton T, Tien H, Feizi T, Sanders RW, Paulson JC, Moore JP, Stanfield RL, Burton DR, Ward AB, Wilson IA
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology July 20, 2013

Some broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1 recognize glycan-dependent epitopes on gp120. Now X-ray crystallography and EM approaches, along with functional analyses, reveal how one particular antibody (PGT135) recognizes three glycan groups and can accommodate their conformational and chemical diversity. A substantial proportion of the broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) identified in certain HIV-infected donors recognize glycan-dependent epitopes on HIV-1 gp120. Here we elucidate how the bnAb PGT 135 binds its Asn332 glycan–dependent epitope from its 3.1-Å crystal structure with gp120, CD4 and Fab 17b. PGT 135 interacts with glycans at Asn332, Asn392 and Asn386, using long CDR loops H1 and H3 to penetrate the glycan shield and access the gp120 protein surface. EM reveals that PGT 135 can accommodate the conformational and chemical diversity of gp120 glycans by altering its angle of engagement. Combined structural studies of PGT 135, PGT 128 and 2G12 show that this Asn332-dependent antigenic region is highly accessible and much more extensive than initially appreciated, which allows for multiple binding modes and varied angles of approach; thereby it represents a supersite of vulnerability for antibody neutralization.

Rational HIV Immunogen Design to Target Specific Germline B Cell Receptors


Jardine J, Julien JP, Menis S, Ota T, Kalyuzhniy O, McGuire A, Sok D, Huang PS, MacPherson S, Jones M, Nieusma T, Mathison J, Baker D, Ward AB, Burton DR, Stamatatos L, Nemazee D, Wilson IA, Schief WR
Science May 10, 2013

Vaccine development to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against HIV-1 is a global health priority. Potent VRC01-class bNAbs against the CD4 binding site of HIV gp120 have been isolated from HIV-1–infected individuals; however, such bNAbs have not been induced by vaccination. Wild-type gp120 proteins lack detectable affinity for predicted germline precursors of VRC01-class bNAbs, making them poor immunogens to prime a VRC01-class response. We employed computation-guided, in vitro screening to engineer a germline-targeting gp120 outer domain immunogen that binds to multiple VRC01-class bNAbs and germline precursors, and elucidated germline binding crystallographically. When multimerized on nanoparticles, this immunogen (eOD-GT6) activates germline and mature VRC01-class B cells. Thus, eOD-GT6 nanoparticles have promise as a vaccine prime. In principle, germline-targeting strategies could be applied to other epitopes and pathogens.

Asymmetric recognition of the HIV-1 trimer by broadly neutralizing antibody PG9


Julien JP, Lee JH, Cupo A, Murin CD, Derking R, Hoffenberg S, Caulfield MJ, King CR, Marozsan AJ, Klasse PJ, Sanders RW, Moore JP, Wilson IA, Ward AB
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences March 12, 2013

PG9 is the founder member of an expanding family of glycan-dependent human antibodies that preferentially bind the HIV (HIV-1) envelope (Env) glycoprotein (gp) trimer and broadly neutralize the virus. Here, we show that a soluble SOSIP.664 gp140 trimer constructed from the Clade A BG505 sequence binds PG9 with high affinity (∼11 nM), enabling structural and biophysical characterizations of the PG9:Env trimer complex. The BG505 SOSIP.664 gp140 trimer is remarkably stable as assessed by electron microscopy (EM) and differential scanning calorimetry. EM, small angle X-ray scattering, size exclusion chromatography with inline multiangle light scattering and isothermal titration calorimetry all indicate that only a single PG9 fragment antigen-binding (Fab) binds to the Env trimer. An ∼18 Å EM reconstruction demonstrates that PG9 recognizes the trimer asymmetrically at its apex via contact with two of the three gp120 protomers, possibly contributing to its reported preference for a quaternary epitope. Molecular modeling and isothermal titration calorimetry binding experiments with an engineered PG9 mutant suggest that, in addition to the N156 and N160 glycan interactions observed in crystal structures of PG9 with a scaffolded V1/V2 domain, PG9 makes secondary interactions with an N160 glycan from an adjacent gp120 protomer in the antibody–trimer complex. Together, these structural and biophysical findings should facilitate the design of HIV-1 immunogens that possess all elements of the quaternary PG9 epitope required to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies against this region.

Bispecific antibodies combine breadth, potency, and avidity of parental antibodies to neutralize sarbecoviruses


Radić L, Sliepen K, Yin V, Brinkkemper M, Capella-Pujol J, Schriek AI, Torres JL, Bangaru S, Burger JA, Poniman M, Bontjer I, Bouhuijs JH, Gideonse D, Eggink D, Ward AB, Heck AJR, Van Gils MJ, Sanders RW, Schinkel J.
iScience Feb. 22, 2013

SARS-CoV-2 variants evade current monoclonal antibody therapies. Bispecific antibodies (bsAbs) combine the specificities of two distinct antibodies taking advantage of the avidity and synergy provided by targeting different epitopes. Here we used controlled Fab-arm exchange to produce bsAbs that neutralize SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Omicron and its subvariants, by combining potent SARS-CoV-2-specific neutralizing antibodies with broader antibodies that also neutralize SARS-CoV. We demonstrated that the parental antibodies rely on avidity for neutralization using bsAbs containing one irrelevant Fab arm. Using mass photometry to measure the formation of antibody:spike complexes, we determined that bsAbs increase binding stoichiometry compared to corresponding cocktails, without a loss of binding affinity. The heterogeneous binding pattern of bsAbs to spike, observed by negative-stain electron microscopy and mass photometry provided evidence for both intra- and inter-spike crosslinking. This study highlights the utility of cross-neutralizing antibodies for designing bivalent agents to combat circulating and future SARS-like coronaviruses.

A Blueprint for HIV Vaccine Discovery


Burton DR, Ahmed R, Barouch DH, Butera ST, Crotty S, Godzik A, Kaufmann DE, McElrath MJ, Nussenzweig MC, Pulendran B, Scanlan CN, Schief WR, Silvestri G, Streeck H, Walker BD, Walker LM, Ward AB, Wilson IA, Wyatt R
Cell Host & Microbe Oct. 18, 2012

Despite numerous attempts over many years to develop an HIV vaccine based on classical strategies, none has convincingly succeeded to date. A number of approaches are being pursued in the field, including building upon possible efficacy indicated by the recent RV144 clinical trial, which combined two HIV vaccines. Here, we argue for an approach based, in part, on understanding the HIV envelope spike and its interaction with broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) at the molecular level and using this understanding to design immunogens as possible vaccines. BnAbs can protect against virus challenge in animal models, and many such antibodies have been isolated recently. We further propose that studies focused on how best to provide T cell help to B cells that produce bnAbs are crucial for optimal immunization strategies. The synthesis of rational immunogen design and immunization strategies, together with iterative improvements, offers great promise for advancing toward an HIV vaccine.

Cross-Reactive and Potent Neutralizing Antibody Responses in Human Survivors of Natural Ebolavirus Infection


Flyak AI, Shen X, Murin CD, Turner HL, David JA, Fusco ML, Lampley R, Kose N, Ilinykh PA, Kuzmina N, Branchizio A, King H, Brown L, Bryan C, Davidson E, Doranz BJ, Slaughter JC, Sapparapu G, Klages C, Ksiazek TG, Saphire EO, Ward AB, Bukreyev A, Crowe JE Jr
Cell Sept. 27, 2012

Recent studies have suggested that antibody-mediated protection against the Ebolaviruses may be achievable, but little is known about whether or not antibodies can confer cross-reactive protection against viruses belonging to diverse Ebolavirus species, such as Ebola virus (EBOV), Sudan virus (SUDV), and Bundibugyo virus (BDBV). We isolated a large panel of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against BDBV glycoprotein (GP) using peripheral blood B cells from survivors of the 2007 BDBV outbreak in Uganda. We determined that a large proportion of mAbs with potent neutralizing activity against BDBV bind to the glycan cap and recognize diverse epitopes within this major antigenic site. We identified several glycan cap-specific mAbs that neutralized multiple ebolaviruses, including SUDV, and a cross-reactive mAb that completely protected guinea pigs from the lethal challenge with heterologous EBOV. Our results provide a roadmap to develop a single antibody-based treatment effective against multiple Ebolavirus infections.

HIV Envelope Glycoform Heterogeneity and Localized Diversity Govern the Initiation and Maturation of a V2 Apex Broadly Neutralizing Antibody Lineage


Landais E, Murrell B, Briney B, Murrell S, Rantalainen K, Berndsen ZT, Ramos A, Wickramasinghe L, Smith ML, Eren K, de Val N, Wu M, Cappelletti A, Umotoy J, Lie Y, Wrin T, Algate P, Chan-Hui PY, Karita E, Ward AB, Wilson IA, Burton DR, Smith D, Pond SLK, Poignard P
Immunity Sept. 14, 2012

Understanding how broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) to HIV envelope (Env) develop during natural infection can help guide the rational design of an HIV vaccine. Here, we described a bnAb lineage targeting the Env V2 apex and the Ab-Env co-evolution that led to development of neutralization breadth. The lineage Abs bore an anionic heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 (CDRH3) of 25 amino acids, among the shortest known for this class of Abs, and achieved breadth with only 10% nucleotide somatic hypermutation and no insertions or deletions. The data suggested a role for Env glycoform heterogeneity in the activation of the lineage germ-line B cell. Finally, we showed that localized diversity at key V2 epitope residues drove bnAb maturation toward breadth, mirroring the Env evolution pattern described for another donor who developed V2-apex targeting bnAbs. Overall, these findings suggest potential strategies for vaccine approaches based on germline-targeting and serial immunogen design.

Partial Enzymatic Deglycosylation Preserves the Structure of Cleaved Recombinant HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Trimers*


Depetris RS, Julien JP, Khayat R, Lee JH, Pejchal R, Katpally U, Cocco N, Kachare M, Massi E, David KB, Cupo A, Marozsan AJ, Olson WC, Ward AB, Wilson IA, Sanders RW, Moore JP
Journal of Biological Chemistry July 13, 2012

The trimeric envelope glycoprotein complex (Env) is the focus of vaccine development programs aimed at generating protective humoral responses to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). N-Linked glycans, which constitute almost half of the molecular mass of the external Env domains, produce considerable structural heterogeneity and are a major impediment to crystallization studies. Moreover, by shielding the peptide backbone, glycans can block attempts to generate neutralizing antibodies against a substantial subset of potential epitopes when Env proteins are used as immunogens. Here, we describe the partial deglycosylation of soluble, cleaved recombinant Env trimers by inhibition of the synthesis of complex N-glycans during Env production, followed by treatment with glycosidases under conditions that preserve Env trimer integrity. The partially deglycosylated trimers are stable, and neither abnormally sensitive to proteolytic digestion nor prone to aggregation. Moreover, the deglycosylated trimers retain or increase their ability to bind CD4 and antibodies that are directed to conformational epitopes, including the CD4-binding site and the V3 region. However, as expected, they do not react with glycan-dependent antibodies 2G12 and PGT123, or the C-type lectin receptor DC-SIGN. Electron microscopic analysis shows that partially deglycosylated trimers have a structure similar to fully glycosylated trimers, indicating that removal of glycans does not substantially perturb the structural integrity of the trimer. The glycan-depleted Env trimers should be useful for structural and immunogenicity studies. Background: The heterogeneity and flexibility of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein N-glycans interfere with structural and vaccine studies. Results: HIV-1 envelope trimers can be partially deglycosylated without affecting trimer integrity. Conclusion: HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein N-glycans do not contribute to trimer integrity once the protein is folded. Significance: Deglycosylated HIV-1 envelope trimers should be useful for structural and vaccine studies.

A Potent and Broad Neutralizing Antibody Recognizes and Penetrates the HIV Glycan Shield


Pejchal R, Doores KJ, Walker LM, Khayat R, Huang PS, Wang SK, Stanfield RL, Julien JP, Ramos A, Crispin M, Depetris R, Katpally U, Marozsan A, Cupo A, Maloveste S, Liu Y, McBride R, Ito Y, Sanders RW, Ogohara C, Paulson JC, Feizi T, Scanlan CN, Wong CH, Moore JP, Olson WC, Ward AB, Poignard P, Schief WR, Burton DR, Wilson IA
Science Nov. 25, 2011

The HIV envelope (Env) protein gp120 is protected from antibody recognition by a dense glycan shield. However, several of the recently identified PGT broadly neutralizing antibodies appear to interact directly with the HIV glycan coat. Crystal structures of antigen-binding fragments (Fabs) PGT 127 and 128 with Man9 at 1.65 and 1.29 angstrom resolution, respectively, and glycan binding data delineate a specific high mannose-binding site. Fab PGT 128 complexed with a fully glycosylated gp120 outer domain at 3.25 angstroms reveals that the antibody penetrates the glycan shield and recognizes two conserved glycans as well as a short β-strand segment of the gp120 V3 loop, accounting for its high binding affinity and broad specificify. Furthermore, our data suggest that the high neutralization potency of PGT 127 and 128 immunoglobulin Gs may be mediated by cross-linking Env trimers on the viral surface.

Structure of HIV-1 gp120 V1/V2 domain with broadly neutralizing antibody PG9


McLellan JS, Pancera M, Carrico C, Gorman J, Julien JP, Khayat R, Louder R, Pejchal R, Sastry M, Dai K, O'Dell S, Patel N, Shahzad-ul-Hussan S, Yang Y, Zhang B, Zhou T, Zhu J, Boyington JC, Chuang GY, Diwanji D, Georgiev I, Kwon YD, Lee D, Louder MK, Moquin S, Schmidt SD, Yang ZY, Bonsignori M, Crump JA, Kapiga SH, Sam NE, Haynes BF, Burton DR, Koff WC, Walker LM, Phogat S, Wyatt R, Orwenyo J, Wang LX, Arthos J, Bewley CA, Mascola JR, Nabel GJ, Schief WR, Ward AB, Wilson IA, Kwong PD
Nature Nov. 23, 2011

Variable regions 1 and 2 (V1/V2) of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) gp120 envelope glycoprotein are critical for viral evasion of antibody neutralization, and are themselves protected by extraordinary sequence diversity and N-linked glycosylation. Human antibodies such as PG9 nonetheless engage V1/V2 and neutralize 80% of HIV-1 isolates. Here we report the structure of V1/V2 in complex with PG9. V1/V2 forms a four-stranded β-sheet domain, in which sequence diversity and glycosylation are largely segregated to strand-connecting loops. PG9 recognition involves electrostatic, sequence-independent and glycan interactions: the latter account for over half the interactive surface but are of sufficiently weak affinity to avoid autoreactivity. The structures of V1/V2-directed antibodies CH04 and PGT145 indicate that they share a common mode of glycan penetration by extended anionic loops. In addition to structurally defining V1/V2, the results thus identify a paradigm of antibody recognition for highly glycosylated antigens, which—with PG9—involves a site of vulnerability comprising just two glycans and a strand. The crystal structure of V1/V2, the only unresolved portion of the HIV-1 gp120 envelope glycoprotein, is reported in complex with human antibody PG9 and reveals a paradigm of antibody recognition with implications for vaccine development. The V1/V2 variable region of the gp120 envelope glycoprotein of HIV-1, with its extraordinary sequence diversity and N-linked glycosylation, exemplifies the ability of the virus to evade antibody recognition. It has also resisted structural determination. Now Peter Kwong and colleagues have determined the atomic-level structure of gp120 V1/V2 by using an antibody called PG9, which can neutralize most strains of HIV. Instead of being confounded by the N-linked glycan that shields most of gp120 from immune recognition, PG9 uses N-linked glycan for binding through a mechanism shared by a number of antibodies capable of effective HIV neutralization. The structure shows that the antibody recognizes glycopeptide conjugates and avoids diversity in V1/V2 by making sequence-independent interactions, such as hydrogen bonds.

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Title & Authors Journal Publication Date