Title & Authors Journal Publication Date
Title & Authors Journal Publication Date

Anti-Immune Complex Antibodies are Elicited During Repeated Immunization with HIV Env Immunogens

Brown S, Antanasijevic A, Sewall LM, Montiel Garcia D, Brouwer PJM, Sanders RW, Ward AB
bioRxiv March 15, 2024

Vaccination strategies against HIV-1 aim to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) using prime-boost regimens with HIV envelope (Env) immunogens. Early antibody responses to easily accessible epitopes on these antigens are directed to non-neutralizing epitopes instead of bnAb epitopes. Autologous neutralizing antibody responses appear upon boosting once immunodominant epitopes are saturated. Here we report another type of antibody response that arises after repeated immunizations with HIV Env immunogens and present the structures of six anti-immune complexes discovered using polyclonal epitope mapping. The anti-immune complex antibodies target idiotopes composed of framework regions of antibodies bound to Env. This work sheds light on current vaccine development efforts for HIV, as well as for other pathogens, in which repeated exposure to antigen is required.

Immunization of cows with HIV envelope trimers generates broadly neutralizing antibodies to the V2-apex from the ultralong CDRH3 repertoire

Altman PX, Ozorowski G, Stanfield RL, Haakenson J, Appel M, Parren M, Lee WH, Sang H, Woehl J, Saye-Francisco K, Joyce C, Song G, Porter K, Landais E, Andrabi R, Wilson IA, Ward AB, Mwangi W, Smider VV, Burton DR, Sok D
bioRxiv Feb. 13, 2024

The generation of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) to specific HIV epitopes of the HIV Envelope (Env) is one of the cornerstones of HIV vaccine research. The current animal models we use have been unable to reliable produce a broadly neutralizing antibody response, with the exception of cows. Cows have rapidly and reliably produced a CD4 binding site response by homologous prime and boosting with a native-like Env trimer. In small animal models other engineered immunogens previously have been able to focus antibody responses to the bnAb V2-apex region of Env. Here, we immunized two groups of cows (n=4) with two regiments of V2-apex focusing immunogens to investigate whether antibody responses could be directed to the V2-apex on Env. Group 1 were immunized with chimpanzee simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-Env trimer that shares its V2-apex with HIV, followed by immunization with C108, a V2-apex focusing immunogen, and finally boosted with a cross-clade native-like trimer cocktail. Group 2 were immunized with HIV C108 Env trimer followed by the same HIV trimer cocktail as Group 1. Longitudinal serum analysis showed that one cow in each group developed serum neutralizing antibody responses to the V2-apex. Eight and 11 bnAbs were isolated from Group 1 and Group 2 cows respectively. The best bnAbs had both medium breadth and potency. Potent and broad responses developed later than previous CD4bs cow bnAbs and required several different immunogens. All isolated bnAbs were derived from the ultralong CDRH3 repertoire. The finding that cow antibodies can target multiple broadly neutralizing epitopes on the HIV surface reveals important insight into the generation of immunogens and testing in the cow animal model. The exclusive isolation of ultralong CDRH3 bnAbs, despite only comprising a small percent of the cow repertoire, suggests these antibodies outcompete the long and short CDRH3 antibodies during the bnAb response. The elicitation of epitope-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies is highly desirable for an HIV vaccine as bnAbs can prevent HIV infection in robust animal challenge models and humans, but to date, cows are the only model shown to reliably produce HIV bnAb responses on Envelope (Env) immunization. These responses involve Abs with ultralong CDRH3s and are all directed to a single site, the CD4 binding site. To determine whether this is a unique phenomenon or whether cow antibodies can target further bnAb sites on Env, we employed an immunization protocol that generated cow bnAbs to a second site, the V2-apex. We conclude that ultralong CDRH3s are well adapted to penetrate the glycan shield of HIV Env and recognize conserved regions and may constitute protein units, either in the context of antibodies or in other engineered proteins, that could be deployed as anti-HIV reagents.

Broadly inhibitory antibodies against severe malaria virulence proteins

Reyes RA, Sundar Rajan Raghavan S, Hurlburt NK, Introini V, Hussain Kana I, Jensen RW, Martinez-Scholze E, Gestal-Mato M, Bancells Bau C, Lisa Fernández-Quintero M, Loeffler JR, Alexander Ferguson J, Lee WH, Michael Martin G, Theander TG, Ssewanyana I, Feeney ME, Greenhouse B, Bol S, Ward AB, Bernabeu M, Pancera M, Turner L, Bunnik EM, Lavstsen T
bioRxiv Jan. 25, 2024

Plasmodium falciparum pathology is driven by the accumulation of parasite-infected erythrocytes in microvessels. This process is mediated by the parasite’s polymorphic erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) adhesion proteins. A subset of PfEMP1 variants that bind human endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) through their CIDRα1 domains is responsible for severe malaria pathogenesis. A longstanding question is whether individual antibodies can recognize the large repertoire of circulating PfEMP1 variants. Here, we describe two broadly reactive and binding-inhibitory human monoclonal antibodies against CIDRα1. The antibodies isolated from two different individuals exhibited a similar and consistent EPCR-binding inhibition of 34 CIDRα1 domains, representing five of the six subclasses of CIDRα1. Both antibodies inhibited EPCR binding of both recombinant full-length and native PfEMP1 proteins as well as parasite sequestration in bioengineered 3D brain microvessels under physiologically relevant flow conditions. Structural analyses of the two antibodies in complex with two different CIDRα1 antigen variants reveal similar binding mechanisms that depend on interactions with three highly conserved amino acid residues of the EPCR-binding site in CIDRα1. These broadly reactive antibodies likely represent a common mechanism of acquired immunity to severe malaria and offer novel insights for the design of a vaccine or treatment targeting severe malaria.

Defining bottlenecks and opportunities for Lassa virus neutralization by structural profiling of vaccine-induced polyclonal antibody responses

Brouwer PJ, Perrett HR, Beaumont T, Nijhuis H, Kruijer S, Burger JA, Lee WH, Müller-Kraüter H, Sanders RW, Strecker T, van Gils MJ, Ward AB
bioRxiv Dec. 21, 2023

Lassa fever continues to be a major public health burden in endemic countries in West Africa, yet effective therapies or vaccines are lacking. The isolation of potent and protective neutralizing antibodies against the Lassa virus glycoprotein complex (GPC) justifies the development of vaccines that can elicit strong neutralizing antibody responses. However, Lassa vaccines candidates have generally been unsuccessful in doing so and the associated antibody responses to these vaccines remain poorly characterized. Here, we establish an electron-microscopy based epitope mapping pipeline that enables high-resolution structural characterization of polyclonal antibodies to GPC. By applying this method to rabbits vaccinated with a recombinant GPC vaccine and a GPC-derived virus-like particle, we reveal determinants of neutralization which involve epitopes of the GPC-C, GPC-A, and GP1-A competition clusters. Furthermore, by identifying previously undescribed immunogenic off-target epitopes, we expose challenges that recombinant GPC vaccines face. By enabling detailed polyclonal antibody characterization, our work ushers in a next generation of more rational Lassa vaccine design.

Germline-targeting SOSIP trimer immunization elicits precursor CD4 binding-site targeting broadly neutralizing antibodies in infant macaques

Nelson AN, Shen X, Vekatayogi S, Zhang S, Ozorowski G, Dennis M, Sewall LM, Milligan E, Davis D, Cross KA, Chen Y, van Schooten J, Eudailey J, Isaac J, Memon S, Weinbaum C, Stanfield-Oakley S, Byrd A, Chutkan S, Berendam S, Cronin K, Yasmeen A, Alam SM, LaBranche CC, Rogers K, Shirreff L, Cupo A, Derking R, Villinger F, Klasse PJ, Ferrari G, Williams WB, Hudgens MG, Ward AB, Montefiori DC, Van Rompay KK, Wiehe K, Moore JP, Sanders RW, De Paris K, Permar SR
bioRxiv Nov. 7, 2023

A vaccine that can achieve protective immunity prior to sexual debut is critical to prevent the estimated 410,000 new HIV infections that occur yearly in adolescents. As children living with HIV can make broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) responses in plasma at a faster rate than adults, early childhood is an opportune window for implementation of a multi-dose HIV immunization strategy to elicit protective immunity prior to adolescence. Therefore, the goal of our study was to assess the ability of a B cell lineage-designed HIV envelope SOSIP to induce bnAbs in early life. Infant rhesus macaques (RMs) received either BG505 SOSIP or the germline-targeting BG505 GT1.1 SOSIP (n=5/group) with the 3M-052-SE adjuvant at 0, 6, and 12 weeks of age. All infant RMs were then boosted with the BG505 SOSIP at weeks 26, 52 and 78, mimicking a pediatric immunization schedule of multiple vaccine boosts within the first two years of life. Both immunization strategies induced durable, high magnitude binding antibodies and plasma autologous virus neutralization that primarily targeted the CD4-binding site (CD4bs) or C3/465 epitope. Notably, three BG505 GT1.1-immunized infants exhibited a plasma HIV neutralization signature reflective of VRC01-like CD4bs bnAb precursor development and heterologous virus neutralization. Finally, infant RMs developed precursor bnAb responses at a similar frequency to that of adult RMs receiving a similar immunization strategy. Thus, a multi-dose immunization regimen with bnAb lineage designed SOSIPs is a promising strategy for inducing protective HIV bnAb responses in childhood prior to adolescence when sexual HIV exposure risk begins.

Viral envelope proteins fused to multiple distinct fluorescent reporters to probe receptor binding

Tomris I, van der Woude R, de Paiva Droes Rocha R, Torrents de la Peña A, Ward AB, de Vries RP
bioRxiv Oct. 23, 2023

Enveloped viruses carry one or multiple proteins with receptor binding functionalities. Functional receptors can either be glycans, proteinaceous or both, recombinant protein approaches are instrumental to gain more insight into these binding properties. Visualizing and measuring receptor binding normally entails antibody detection or direct labelling, whereas direct fluorescent fusions are attractive tools in molecular biology. Here we report a suite of different fluorescent fusions, both N- and/or C-terminal, for influenza A virus hemagglutinins and SARS-CoV-2 spike RBD. The proteins contained a total of three or six fluorescent protein barrels and were applied directly to cells to determine receptor binding properties.

Local structural flexibility drives oligomorphism in computationally designed protein assemblies

Khmelinskaia A, Bethel NP, Fatehi F, Antanasijevic A, Borst AJ, Lai SH, Yang Wang JJ, Basu Mallik B, Miranda MC, Watkins AM, Ogohara C, Caldwell S, Wu M, Heck AJ, Veesler D, Ward AB, Baker D, Twarock R, King NP
bioRxiv Oct. 18, 2023

Many naturally occurring protein assemblies have dynamic structures that allow them to perform specialized functions. For example, clathrin coats adopt a wide variety of architectures to adapt to vesicular cargos of various sizes. Although computational methods for designing novel self-assembling proteins have advanced substantially over the past decade, most existing methods focus on designing static structures with high accuracy. Here we characterize the structures of three distinct computationally designed protein assemblies that each form multiple unanticipated architectures, and identify flexibility in specific regions of the subunits of each assembly as the source of structural diversity. Cryo-EM single-particle reconstructions and native mass spectrometry showed that only two distinct architectures were observed in two of the three cases, while we obtained six cryo-EM reconstructions that likely represent a subset of the architectures present in solution in the third case. Structural modeling and molecular dynamics simulations indicated that the surprising observation of a defined range of architectures, instead of non-specific aggregation, can be explained by constrained flexibility within the building blocks. Our results suggest that deliberate use of structural flexibility as a design principle will allow exploration of previously inaccessible structural and functional space in designed protein assemblies.

Structure-guided mutagenesis of OSCAs reveals differential activation to mechanical stimuli

Jojoa-Cruz S, Dubin AE, Lee WH, Ward A
bioRxiv Oct. 3, 2023

The dimeric two-pore OSCA/TMEM63 family has recently been identified as mechanically activated ion channels. Previously, based on the unique features of the structure of OSCA1.2, we postulated the potential involvement of several structural elements in sensing membrane tension1. Interestingly, while OSCA1, 2, and 3 clades are activated by membrane stretch in cell- attached patches (i.e., they are stretch-activated channels), they differ in their ability to transduce membrane deformation induced by a blunt probe (poking). In an effort to understand the domains contributing to mechanical signal transduction, we used cryo-electron microscopy to solve the structure of Arabidopsis thaliana (At) OSCA3.1, which, unlike AtOSCA1.2, only produced stretch- but not poke-activated currents in our initial characterization2. Mutagenesis and electrophysiological assessment of conserved and divergent putative mechanosensitive features of OSCA1.2 reveal a selective disruption of the macroscopic currents elicited by poking without considerable effects on stretch-activated currents (SAC). Our results support the involvement of the amphipathic helix and lipid-interacting residues in the membrane fenestration in the response to poking. Our findings position these two structural elements as potential sources of functional diversity within the family.

Germline-targeting chimpanzee SIV Envelopes induce V2-apex broadly neutralizing-like B cell precursors in a rhesus macaque infection model

Musharrafieh R, Safonova Y, Song G, Roark RS, Lee FH, Zhang S, Hurtado J, Yong P, Wang S, Russell RM, Ding W, Li Y, Rando J, Murphy AI, Lindemuth E, Zhao C, Jesse Connell A, Lee WH, Mishra N, Avillion G, He W, Callaghan S, Dueker K, Vo AL, Li X, Capozzola T, Joyce C, Zhao F, Anzanello F, Liu W, Bibollet-Ruche F, Ramos A, Li H, Lewis MG, Ozorowski G, Landais E, Foley BT, Wagh K, Sok D, Briney B, Ward AB, Hahn BH, Burton DR, Shaw GM, Andrabi R
bioRxiv Sept. 21, 2023

Eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies-(bnAbs) remains a major goal of HIV-1 vaccine research. Previously, we showed that a soluble chimpanzee SIV Envelope-(Env) trimer, MT145K, bound several human V2-apex bnAb-precursors and stimulated an appropriate response in V2-apex bnAb precursor-expressing knock-in mice. Here, we tested the immunogenicity of three MT145 variants (MT145, MT145K, MT145K.dV5) expressed as chimeric simian-chimpanzee-immunodeficiency-viruses-(SCIVs) in rhesus macaques-(RMs). All three viruses established productive infections with high setpoint vRNA titers. RMs infected with the germline-targeting SCIV_MT145K and SCIV_MT145K.dV5 exhibited larger and more clonally expanded B cell lineages featuring long anionic heavy chain complementary-determining-regions-(HCDR3s) compared with wildtype SCIV_MT145. Moreover, antigen-specific B cell analysis revealed enrichment for long-CDHR3-bearing antibodies in SCIV_MT145K.dV5 infected animals with paratope features resembling prototypic V2-apex bnAbs and their precursors. Although none of the animals developed bnAbs, these results show that germline-targeting SCIVs can activate and preferentially expand B cells expressing V2-apex bnAb-like precursors, the first step in bnAb elicitation.

Triple tandem trimer immunogens for HIV-1 and influenza nucleic acid-based vaccines

del Moral-Sánchez I, Wee EG, Xian Y, Lee WH, Allen JD, Torrents de la Peña A, Fróes Rocha R, Ferguson J, León AN, Koekkoek S, Schermer EE, Burger JA, Kumar S, Zwolsman R, Brinkkemper M, Aartse A, Eggink D, Han J, Yuan M, Crispin M, Ozorowski G, Ward AB, Wilson IA, Hanke T, Sliepen K, Sanders RW
bioRxiv Aug. 27, 2023

Recombinant native-like HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimers are used in candidate vaccines aimed at inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies. While state-of-the-art SOSIP or single-chain Env designs can be expressed as native-like trimers, undesired monomers, dimers and malformed trimers that elicit non-neutralizing antibodies are also formed, implying that these designs could benefit from further modifications for gene-based vaccination approaches. Here, we describe the triple tandem trimer (TTT) design in which three Env protomers are genetically linked in a single open reading frame and express as native-like trimers. Viral vectored Env TTT induced similar neutralization titers but with a higher proportion of trimer-specific responses. The TTT design was also applied to generate influenza hemagglutinin (HA) trimers without the need for trimerization domains. Additionally, we used TTT to generate well-folded chimeric Env and HA trimers that harbor protomers from three different strains. In summary, the TTT design is a useful platform for the design of HIV-1 Env and influenza HA immunogens for a multitude of vaccination strategies.

Immune memory shapes human polyclonal antibody responses to H2N2 vaccination

Yang YR, Han J, Perrett HR, Richey ST, Jackson AM, Rodriguez AJ, Gillespie RA, O’Connell S, Raab JE, Cominsky LY, Chopde A, Kanekiyo M, Houser KV, Chen GL, McDermott AB, Andrews SF, Ward AB
bioRxiv Aug. 23, 2023

Influenza A virus subtype H2N2, which caused the 1957 influenza pandemic, remains a global threat. A recent phase I clinical trial investigating a ferritin nanoparticle displaying H2 hemagglutinin in H2-naïve and H2-exposed adults. Therefore, we could perform comprehensive structural and biochemical characterization of immune memory on the breadth and diversity of the polyclonal serum antibody response elicited after H2 vaccination. We temporally map the epitopes targeted by serum antibodies after first and second vaccinations and show previous H2 exposure results in higher responses to the variable head domain of hemagglutinin while initial responses in H2-naïve participants are dominated by antibodies targeting conserved epitopes. We use cryo-EM and monoclonal B cell isolation to describe the molecular details of cross-reactive antibodies targeting conserved epitopes on the hemagglutinin head including the receptor binding site and a new site of vulnerability deemed the medial junction. Our findings accentuate the impact of pre-existing influenza exposure on serum antibody responses. Serum Abs after first H2-F vaccination in H2-exposed donors bound variable HA head epitopes Serum Abs after first H2-F vaccination in H2-naïve donors bound conserved HA head and stem epitopes RBS-targeting VH1-69 cross-reactive antibodies were induced in H2-naïve individuals The medial junction is a previously uncharacterized conserved epitope on the HA head

Glycan heterogeneity as a cause of the persistent fraction in HIV-1 neutralization

Ringe RP, Colin P, Ozorowski G, Allen JD, Yasmeen A, Seabright GE, Lee JH, Antanasijevic A, Rantalainen K, Ketas T, Moore JP, Ward AB, Crispin M, Klasse PJ
Now Published: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011601
bioRxiv Aug. 8, 2023

Abstract Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) to multiple epitopes on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) have been isolated from infected persons. The potency of NAbs is more often measured than the size of the persistent fraction o f infectivity at maximum neutralization, which may also influence preventive efficacy by active or passive immunization and the therapeutic outcome of the latter. HIV-1 CZA97.012, a clone of a Clade C isolate, is neutralized to ∼100% by many NAbs. But here NAb PGT151, directed to a fusion-peptide epitope, was shown to leave a persistent fraction of 15%. NAb PGT145, ligating the Env-trimer apex, was less potent but more effective. We sought explanations of the different persistent fractions by depleting pseudoviral populations of the most PGT151- and PGT145-reactive virions. Thereby, neutralization by the non-depleting NAb increased; it decreased by the depleting NAb. Furthermore, depletion by PGT151 increased sensitivity to autologous neutralization by sera from rabbits immunized with soluble native-like CZA97.012 trimer: substantial persistent fractions were reduced. NAbs in these sera target epitopes comprising residue D411 at the V4-β19 transition in a defect of the glycan shield on CZA97.012 Env. Affinity-fractionated soluble native-like CZA97.012 trimer showed commensurate antigenic differences in analyses by ELISA and surface plasmon resonance. We then demonstrated glycan differences between PGT151- and PGT145-purified trimer fractions by mass spectrometry, providing one explanation for the differential antigenicity. These differences were interpreted in relation to a new structure at 3.4-Å resolution of the soluble CZA97.012 trimer determined by cryo-electron microscopy. PGT151-purified trimer showed a closed conformation, refuting apex opening as the cause of reduced PGT145 binding. The evidence suggests that differences in binding and neutralization after trimer purification or PV depletion with PGT145 or PGT151 are caused by variation in glycosylation, and that some glycan variants confer antigenic heterogeneity through direct effects on antibody contacts, whereas others act allosterically. Author Summary Neutralizing antibodies block the entry of HIV-1 into cells and protect against HIV-1 infection in animal models. Therefore, a goal of vaccination is to elicit antibodies that potently neutralize most HIV-1 variants. Such antibodies suppress virus levels when given to HIV-1-infected patients. Their potency is often measured as the concentration that gives 50% or 80% neutralization. But higher degrees of neutralization are needed to protect an organism from infection. And for some antibodies a ceiling is reached, so that even with increased concentrations a constant fraction of infectious virus persists. We studied the carbohydrate moieties on the envelope glycoprotein, which is the sole target for neutralizing antibodies, of one HIV-1 isolate of the most widespread subtype, Clade C, prevalent in Africa and Asia. We show how differences in carbohydrates can contribute to persistent infectivity, because distinct carbohydrates fit different antibodies. With a new three-dimensional structure of the entry-mediating protein from the Clade-C isolate, we illustrate that some carbohydrate differences occur exactly where the antibodies bind, whereas others are located elsewhere and can act indirectly. When we combined two neutralizing antibodies the persistent infectivity shrank. Our results reinforce the need for multiple specificities of neutralizing antibodies in prevention and therapy.

Focusing antibody responses to the fusion peptide in rhesus macaques

Cottrell CA, Pratap PP, Cirelli KM, Carnathan DG, Enemuo CA, Antanasijevic A, Ozorowski G, Sewall LM, Gao H, Greene KM, Allen JD, Ngo JT, Choe Y, Nogal B, Silva M, Bhiman J, Pauthner M, Irvine DJ, Montefiori D, Crispin M, Burton DR, Silvestri G, Crotty S, Ward AB
bioRxiv June 26, 2023

Immunodominance of antibodies targeting non-neutralizing epitopes and the high level of somatic hypermutation within germinal centers (GCs) required for most HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) are major impediments to the development of an effective HIV vaccine. Rational protein vaccine design and non-conventional immunization strategies are potential avenues to overcome these hurdles. Here, we report using implantable osmotic pumps to continuously deliver a series of epitope-targeted immunogens to rhesus macaques over the course of six months to elicit immune responses against the conserved fusion peptide. Antibody specificities and GC responses were tracked longitudinally using electron microscopy polyclonal epitope mapping (EMPEM) and lymph node fine-needle aspirates, respectively. Application of cryoEMPEM delineated key residues for on-target and off-target responses that can drive the next round of structure-based vaccine design.

Structure of mechanically activated ion channel OSCA2.3 reveals mobile elements in the transmembrane domain

Jojoa-Cruz S, Burendei B, Lee WH, Ward AB
Now Published: 10.1016/j.str.2023.11.009
bioRxiv June 15, 2023

Members of the OSCA/TMEM63 are mechanically activated ion channels and structures of some OSCA members have revealed the architecture of these channels and structural features that are potentially involved in mechanosensation. However, these structures are all in a similar state and information about the motion of different elements of the structure is limited, preventing a deeper understanding of how these channels work. Here, we used cryo-electron microscopy to determine high resolution structures of Arabidopsis thaliana OSCA1.2 and OSCA2.3 in peptidiscs. The structure of OSCA1.2 resembles previous structures of the same protein in different environments. Yet, in OSCA2.3 the TM6a-TM7 linker constricts the pore on its cytoplasmic side, revealing conformational heterogeneity within the OSCA family. Furthermore, coevolutionary sequence analysis uncovered a conserved interaction between TM6a-TM7 linker and the Beam-Like Domain. Our results support the involvement of TM6a-TM7 in mechanosensation and potentially in the diverse response of OSCA channels to mechanical stimuli.

Evolving spike-protein N -glycosylation in SARS-CoV-2 variants

Baboo S, Diedrich JK, Torres JL, Copps J, Singh B, Garrett PT, Ward AB, Paulson JC, Yates JR
bioRxiv May 8, 2023

Abstract It has been three years since SARS-CoV-2 emerged and the world plunged into a “once in a century” pandemic. Since then, multiple waves of infection have swept through the human population, led by variants that were able to evade any acquired immunity. The co-evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants with human immunity provides an excellent opportunity to study the interaction between viral pathogens and their human hosts. The heavily N -glycosylated spike-protein of SARS-CoV-2 plays a pivotal role in initiating infection and is the target for host immune response, both of which are impacted by host-installed N -glycans. We compared the N -glycan landscape of recombinantly expressed, stabilized, soluble spike-protein trimers representing seven of the most prominent SARS-CoV-2 variants and found that N -glycan processing is conserved at most sites. However, in multiple variants, processing of N -glycans from high mannose-to complex-type is reduced at sites N165, N343 and N616, implicated in spike-protein function.

Ab initio prediction of specific phospholipid complexes and membrane association of HIV-1 MPER antibodies by multi-scale simulations

Maillie C, Golden J, Wilson IA, Ward AB, Mravic M
bioRxiv May 4, 2023

A potent class of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) targets the envelope glycoprotein’s membrane proximal exposed region (MPER) through a proposed mechanism where hypervariable loops embed into lipid bilayers and engage headgroup moieties alongside the epitope. We address the feasibility and determinant molecular features of this mechanism using integrative modeling. All-atom simulations of 4E10, PGZL1, 10E8 and LN01 docked onto HIV-like membranes consistently form phospholipid complexes at key complementarity-determining region loop sites, solidifying that stable and specific lipid interactions anchor bnAbs to membrane surfaces. Ancillary protein-lipid contacts reveal surprising contributions from antibody framework regions. Coarse-grained simulations effectively capture antibodies embedding into membranes. Simulations estimating protein-membrane interaction strength for PGZL1 variants along an inferred maturation pathway show bilayer affinity is evolved and correlates with neutralization potency. The modeling platform developed here uncovers insights into lipid participation in antibodies’ recognition of membrane proteins and highlights antibody features to prioritize in vaccine design.

Broadly neutralizing antibodies targeting a conserved silent face of spike RBD resist extreme SARS-CoV-2 antigenic drift

Song G, Yuan M, Liu H, Capozzola T, Lin RN, Torres JL, He WT, Musharrafieh R, Dueker K, Zhou P, Callaghan S, Mishra N, Yong P, Anzanello F, Avillion G, Lina Vo A, Li X, Makhdoomi M, Feng Z, Zhu X, Peng L, Nemazee D, Safonova Y, Briney B, Ward AB, Burton DR, Wilson IA, Andrabi R
bioRxiv April 26, 2023

Developing broad coronavirus vaccines requires identifying and understanding the molecular basis of broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) spike sites. In our previous work, we identified sarbecovirus spike RBD group 1 and 2 bnAbs. We have now shown that many of these bnAbs can still neutralize highly mutated SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the XBB.1.5. Structural studies revealed that group 1 bnAbs use recurrent germline encoded CDRH3 features to interact with a conserved RBD region that overlaps with class 4 bnAb site. Group 2 bnAbs recognize a less well-characterized "site V" on the RBD and destabilize spike trimer. The site V has remained largely unchanged in SARS-CoV- 2 variants and is highly conserved across diverse sarbecoviruses, making it a promising target for broad coronavirus vaccine development. Our findings suggest that targeted vaccine strategies may be needed to induce effective B cell responses to escape resistant subdominant spike RBD bnAb sites.

Deep repertoire mining uncovers ultra-broad coronavirus neutralizing antibodies targeting multiple spike epitopes

Hurtado J, Rogers TF, Jaffe DB, Adams BA, Bangaru S, Garcia E, Capozzola T, Messmer T, Sharma P, Song G, Beutler N, He W, Dueker K, Musharrafieh R, Stubbington MJ, Burton DR, Andrabi R, Ward AB, McDonnell WJ, Briney B
bioRxiv March 28, 2023

Development of vaccines and therapeutics that are broadly effective against known and emergent coronaviruses is an urgent priority. Current strategies for developing pan-coronavirus countermeasures have largely focused on the receptor binding domain (RBD) and S2 regions of the coronavirus Spike protein; it has been unclear whether the N-terminal domain (NTD) is a viable target for universal vaccines and broadly neutralizing antibodies (Abs). Additionally, many RBD-targeting Abs have proven susceptible to viral escape. We screened the circulating B cell repertoires of COVID-19 survivors and vaccinees using multiplexed panels of uniquely barcoded antigens in a high-throughput single cell workflow to isolate over 9,000 SARS-CoV-2-specific monoclonal Abs (mAbs), providing an expansive view of the SARS-CoV-2-specific Ab repertoire. We observed many instances of clonal coalescence between individuals, suggesting that Ab responses frequently converge independently on similar genetic solutions. Among the recovered antibodies was TXG-0078, a public neutralizing mAb that binds the NTD supersite region of the coronavirus Spike protein and recognizes a diverse collection of alpha- and beta-coronaviruses. TXG-0078 achieves its exceptional binding breadth while utilizing the same VH1-24 variable gene signature and heavy chain-dominant binding pattern seen in other NTD supersite-specific neutralizing Abs with much narrower specificity. We also report the discovery of CC24.2, a pan-sarbecovirus neutralizing mAb that targets a novel RBD epitope and shows similar neutralization potency against all tested SARS-CoV-2 variants, including BQ.1.1 and XBB.1.5. A cocktail of TXG-0078 and CC24.2 provides protection against in vivo challenge with SARS-CoV-2, suggesting potential future use in variant-resistant therapeutic Ab cocktails and as templates for pan-coronavirus vaccine design.

Conformational antigenic heterogeneity as a cause of the persistent fraction in HIV-1 neutralization

Colin P, Ringe RP, Yasmeen A, Ozorowski G, Ketas TJ, Lee WH, Ward AB, Moore JP, Klasse PJ
Research Square Feb. 21, 2023

Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) protect against HIV-1 acquisition in animal models and show promise in treatment of infection. They act by binding to the viral envelope glycoprotein (Env), thereby blocking its receptor interactions and fusogenic function. The potency of neutralization is largely determined by affinity. Less well explained is the persistent fraction, the plateau of remaining infectivity at the highest antibody concentrations.</p> <p><strong>Results</strong></p> <p>We observed different persistent fractions for NAb neutralization of pseudovirus derived from two Tier-2 isolates of HIV-1, BG505 (Clade A) and B41 (Clade B): it was pronounced for B41 but not BG505 neutralization by NAb PGT151, directed to the interface between the outer and transmembrane subunits of Env, but negligible for either virus by NAb PGT145 to an apical epitope. Autologous neutralization by poly- and monoclonal NAbs from rabbits immunized with soluble native-like B41 trimer also left substantial persistent fractions. These NAbs largely target a cluster of epitopes in a hole in the dense glycan shield of Env around residue 289. We partially depleted B41-virion populations by incubating them with PGT145- or PGT151-conjugated beads. Each depletion reduced the sensitivity to the depleting NAb and enhanced it to the other. Autologous neutralization by the rabbit NAbs was reduced for PGT145-depleted and enhanced for PGT151-depleted B41 pseudovirus. Those changes in sensitivity encompassed both potency and the persistent fraction. We then compared soluble native-like BG505 and B41 Env trimers affinity-purified by one of three NAbs: 2G12, PGT145, or PGT151. Surface plasmon resonance showed differences among the fractions in antigenicity, including kinetics and stoichiometry, congruently with the differential neutralization. The large persistent fraction after PGT151 neutralization of B41 was attributable to low stoichiometry, which we explained structurally by the conformational plasticity of B41 Env.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>Distinct antigenic forms even of clonal HIV-1 Env, detectable among soluble native-like trimer molecules, are distributed over virions and may profoundly mold neutralization of certain isolates by certain NAbs. Affinity purifications with some antibodies may yield immunogens that preferentially expose epitopes for broadly active NAbs, while shielding less cross-reactive ones. NAbs reactive with multiple conformers will together reduce the persistent fraction after passive and active immunization.</p>

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, R. Heck AJ, Van Gils MJ, Sanders RW, Schinkel J
Now Published: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.106540
bioRxiv Nov. 11, 2022

SARS-CoV-2 mutational variants evade humoral immune responses elicited by vaccines and current monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies. Novel antibody-based treatments will thus need to exhibit broad neutralization against different variants. Bispecific antibodies (bsAbs) combine the specificities of two distinct antibodies into one antibody taking advantage of the avidity, synergy and cooperativity provided by targeting two different epitopes. Here we used controlled Fab-arm exchange (cFAE), a versatile and straightforward method, 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 but less potent antibodies that also neutralize SARS-CoV. We demonstrate that the parental IgG’s rely on avidity for their neutralizing activity by comparing their potency to bsAbs containing one irrelevant “dead” Fab arm. We used single particle mass photometry to measure formation of antibody:spike complexes, and determined that bsAbs increase binding stoichiometry compared to corresponding cocktails, without a loss of binding affinity. The heterogeneous binding pattern of bsAbs to spike (S), 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 or multivalent agents to provide a robust activity against circulating variants, as well as future SARS-like coronaviruses.