Hicar MD et al. (JUL 2010)
Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999) 54 3 223--35
Pseudovirion particles bearing native HIV envelope trimers facilitate a novel method for generating human neutralizing monoclonal antibodies against HIV.
Monomeric HIV envelope vaccines fail to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies or to protect against infection. Neutralizing antibodies against HIV bind to native functionally active Env trimers on the virion surface. Gag-Env pseudovirions recapitulate the native trimer and could serve as an effective epitope presentation platform for study of the neutralizing antibody response in HIV-infected individuals. To address if pseudovirions can recapitulate native HIV virion epitope structures, we carefully characterized these particles, concentrating on the antigenic structure of the coreceptor binding site. By blue native gel shift assays, Gag-Env pseudovirions were shown to contain native trimers that were competent for binding to neutralizing monoclonal antibodies. In enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, pseudovirions exhibited increased binding of known CD4-induced antibodies after addition of CD4. Using flow cytometric analysis, fluorescently labeled pseudovirions specifically identified a subset of antigen-specific B cells in HIV-infected subjects. Interestingly, the sequence of one of these novel human antibodies, identified during cloning of single HIV-specific B cells and designated 2C6, exhibited homology to mAb 47e, a known anti-CD4-induced coreceptor binding site antibody. The secreted monoclonal antibody 2C6 did not bind monomeric gp120, but specifically bound envelope on pseudovirions. A recombinant form of the antibody 2C6 acted as a CD4-induced epitope-specific antibody in neutralization assays, yet did not bind monomeric gp120. These findings imply specificity against a quaternary epitope presented on the pseudovirion envelope spike. These data demonstrate that Gag-Env pseudovirions recapitulate CD4 and coreceptor binding pocket antigenic structures and can facilitate identification of B-cell clones that secrete neutralizing antibodies.