To date, only a small number of anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) with relatively broad neutralizing activity have been isolated from infected individuals. Adequate techniques for defining how frequently antibodies of these specificities arise in HIV-infected people have been lacking, although it is generally assumed that such antibodies are rare. In order to create an epitope-specific neutralization assay, we introduced well-characterized HIV-1 epitopes into the heterologous context of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Specifically, epitope recognition sequences for the 2F5, 4E10, and 447-52D anti-HIV-1 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies were introduced into the corresponding regions of SIVmac239 by site-directed mutagenesis. Variants with 2F5 or 4E10 recognition sequences in gp41 retained replication competence and were used for neutralization assays. The parental SIVmac239 and the neutralization-sensitive SIVmac316 were not neutralized by the 2F5 and 4E10 MAbs, nor were they neutralized significantly by any of the 96 HIV-1-positive human plasma samples that were tested. The SIV239-2F5 and SIV239-4E10 variants were specifically neutralized by the 2F5 and 4E10 MAbs, respectively, at concentrations within the range of what has been reported previously for HIV-1 primary isolates (J. M. Binley et al., J. Virol. 78:13232-13252, 2004). The SIV239-2F5 and SIV239-4E10 epitope-engrafted variants were used as biological screens for the presence of neutralizing activity of these specificities. None of the 92 HIV-1-positive human plasma samples that were tested exhibited significant neutralization of SIV239-2F5. One plasma sample exhibited >90% neutralization of SIV239-4E10, but this activity was not competed by a 4ElO target peptide and was not present in concentrated immunoglobulin G (IgG) or IgA fractions. We thus confirm by direct analysis that neutralizing activities of the 2F5 and 4E10 specificities are either rare among HIV-1-positive individuals or, if present, represent only a very small fraction of the total neutralizing activity in any given plasma sample. We further conclude that the structures of gp41 from SIVmac239 and HIV-1 are sufficiently similar such that epitopes engrafted into SIVmac239 can be readily recognized by the cognate anti-HIV-1 monoclonal antibodies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science