Biology Faculty Articles


Access of antibody molecules to the conserved coreceptor binding site on glycoprotein gp120 is sterically restricted on primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1

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Journal of Virology





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Anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) antibodies whose binding to gp120 is enhanced by CD4 binding (CD4i antibodies) are generally considered nonneutralizing for primary HIV-1 isolates. However, a novel CD4i-specific Fab fragment, X5, has recently been found to neutralize a wide range of primary isolates. To investigate the precise nature of the extraordinary neutralizing ability of Fab X5, we evaluated the abilities of different forms (immunoglobulin G [IgG], Fab, and single-chain Fv) of X5 and other CD4i monoclonal antibodies to neutralize a range of primary HIV-1 isolates. Our results show that, for a number of isolates, the size of the neutralizing agent is inversely correlated with its ability to neutralize. Thus, the poor ability of CD4i-specific antibodies to neutralize primary isolates is due, at least in part, to steric factors that limit antibody access to the gp120 epitopes. Studies of temperature-regulated neutralization or fusion-arrested intermediates suggest that the steric effects are important in limiting the binding of IgG to the viral envelope glycoproteins after HIV-1 has engaged CD4 on the target cell membrane. The results identify hurdles in using CD4i epitopes as targets for antibody-mediated neutralization in vaccine design but also indicate that the CD4i regions could be efficiently targeted by small molecule entry inhibitors.

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