Chemically modified peptides based on the membrane-proximal external region of the HIV-1 envelope induce high-titer, epitope-specific nonneutralizing antibodies in rabbits

Vincent J. Venditto, Lindsay Wieczorek, Sebastian Molnar, Fernando Teque, Gary Landucci, Douglas S. Watson, Donald Forthal, Victoria R. Polonis, Jay A. Levy, Francis C. Szoka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (bNAbs) 2F5 and 4E10 bind to the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of gp41 and also cross-react with phospholipids. In this study, we investigated if chemical modifications on the MPER adjacent to 2F5 and 4E10 epitopes using mimetics of inflammation-associated posttranslational modifications to induce 2F5- and 4E10-like bNAbs can break tolerance. We synthesized a series of chemically modified peptides spanning the MPER. The serine, threonine, and tyrosine residues in the peptides were modified with sulfate, phosphate, or nitrate moieties and presented in liposomes for rabbit immunizations. All immunizations resulted in high antisera titers directed toward both the modified and unmodified immunogens. Tyrosine modification was observed to significantly suppress antiepitope responses. Sera with strong anti-gp140 titers were purified by affinity chromatography toward the MPER peptide and found to possess a higher affinity toward the MPER than did the bNAbs 2F5 and 4E10. Modest neutralization was observed in the H9 neutralization assay, but neutralization was not observed in the TZM-bl cell or peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) neutralization assay platforms. Although neutralizing antibodies were not induced by this approach, we conclude that chemical modifications can increase the immune responses to poorly immunogenic antigens, suggesting that chemical modification in an appropriate immunization protocol should be explored further as an HIV-1 vaccine strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1086-1093
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Vaccine Immunology
Volume21
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)

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