Differences in Allelic Frequency and CDRH3 Region Limit the Engagement of HIV Env Immunogens by Putative VRC01 Neutralizing Antibody Precursors.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Cell reports, Volume 17, Issue 6, p.1560-1570 (2016)


Elicitation of broadly neutralizing antibodies remains a long-standing goal of HIV vaccine research. Although such antibodies can arise during HIV-1 infection, gaps in our knowledge of their germline, pre-immune precursor forms, as well as on their interaction with viral Env, limit our ability to elicit them through vaccination. Studies of broadly neutralizing antibodies from the VRC01-class provide insight into progenitor B cell receptors (BCRs) that could develop into this class of antibodies. Here, we employed high-throughput heavy chain variable region (VH)/light chain variable region (VL) deep sequencing, combined with biophysical, structural, and modeling antibody analyses, to interrogate circulating potential VRC01-progenitor BCRs in healthy individuals. Our study reveals that not all humans are equally predisposed to generate VRC01-class antibodies, not all predicted progenitor VRC01-expressing B cells can bind to Env, and the CDRH3 region of germline VRC01 antibodies influence their ability to recognize HIV-1. These findings will be critical to the design of optimized immunogens that should consider CDRH3 interactions.