Stabilized HIV-1 envelope immunization induces neutralizing antibodies to the CD4bs and protects macaques against mucosal infection.

Abstract

A successful HIV-1 vaccine will require induction of a polyclonal neutralizing antibody (nAb) response, yet vaccine-mediated induction of such a response in primates remains a challenge. We found that a stabilized HIV-1 CH505 envelope (Env) trimer formulated with a Toll-like receptor 7/8 agonist induced potent HIV-1 polyclonal nAbs that correlated with protection from homologous simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) infection. The serum dilution that neutralized 50% of virus replication (ID50 titer) required to protect 90% of macaques was 1:364 against the challenge virus grown in primary rhesus CD4+ T cells. Structural analyses of vaccine-induced nAbs demonstrated targeting of the Env CD4 binding site or the N156 glycan and the third variable loop base. Autologous nAb specificities similar to those elicited in macaques by vaccination were isolated from the human living with HIV from which the CH505 Env immunogen was derived. CH505 viral isolates were isolated that mutated the V1 to escape both the infection-induced and vaccine-induced antibodies. These results define the specificities of a vaccine-induced nAb response and the protective titers of HIV-1 vaccine-induced nAbs required to protect nonhuman primates from low-dose mucosal challenge by SHIVs bearing a primary transmitted/founder Env.

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Description

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Citation

Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1126/scitranslmed.abo5598

Publication Info

Saunders, Kevin O, Robert J Edwards, Kedamawit Tilahun, Kartik Manne, Xiaozhi Lu, Derek W Cain, Kevin Wiehe, Wilton B Williams, et al. (2022). Stabilized HIV-1 envelope immunization induces neutralizing antibodies to the CD4bs and protects macaques against mucosal infection. Science translational medicine, 14(661). p. eabo5598. 10.1126/scitranslmed.abo5598 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/26551.

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Scholars@Duke

Saunders

Kevin O'Neil Saunders

Norman L. Letvin M. D. Distinguished Professor in Surgery and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute

Dr. Kevin O. Saunders graduated from Davidson College in 2005 with a bachelor of science in biology. At Davidson College, he trained in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Hales identifying the genetic basis of infertility. Dr. Saunders completed his doctoral research on CD8+ T cell immunity against HIV-1 infection with Dr. Georgia Tomaras at Duke University in 2010. He subsequently trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Drs. Gary Nabel and John Mascola at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center.

In 2014, Dr. Saunders joined the faculty at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute as a medical instructor. In this role, he analyzed antibody responses in vaccinated macaques, which led to the identification of glycan-dependent HIV antibodies induced by vaccination. Dr. Saunders was appointed as a non-tenure track Assistant Professor of Surgery and the Director of the Laboratory of Protein Expression in the Duke Human Vaccine Institute in 2015. He successfully transitioned to a tenure-track appointment in 2018 and was later promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in Surgery in 2020. In 2022, Dr. Saunders became an Associate Professor with tenure. He rose to the rank of Professor with tenure in 2024, and was subsequently awarded the Norman L. Letvin, MD Professor in Immunology and Infectious Diseases Research in Surgery and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute distinguished professorship. Dr. Saunders previously served as DHVI's associate director of research, director or research, and currently serves as the associate director for DHVI. Additionally, Dr. Saunders serves as the faculty chairperson for the DHVI diversity, equity, and inclusion committee.

Dr. Saunders has given invited lectures at international conferences such as HIVR4P and the Keystone Symposia for HIV Vaccines. He has authored book chapters and numerous journal articles and holds patents on vaccine design concepts and antiviral antibodies. As a faculty member at Duke, Dr. Saunders has received the Duke Human Vaccine Institute Outstanding Leadership Award and the Norman Letvin Center For HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery Outstanding Investigator Award, Ruth and A. Morris Williams Faculty Research Prize, and the Duke Medical Alumni Emerging Leader Award. His current research interests include vaccine and antibody development to combat HIV-1, coronavirus, and other emerging viral infections.

About the Saunders Laboratory
The Saunders laboratory aims to understand the immunology of broadly protective antibodies and the molecular biology of their interaction with viral glycoprotein. The laboratory utilizes single B cell PCR, bulk B cell sequencing, and antigen-specific next-generation sequencing to probe the antibody repertoire during natural infection and after vaccination. Our overall goal is to develop protective antibody-based vaccines; therefore, the laboratory is divided into two sections–Immunoprofiling and Vaccine/Therapeutics design. We employ a reverse vaccinology approach to vaccine design where we study broadly protective antibodies in order to design vaccines that elicit such antibodies. To elicit broadly protective antibody responses, the Saunders laboratory utilizes epitope-focused nanoparticle vaccines. While eliciting broad protection is our overall goal, we are also interested in the immunologic mechanisms that make the vaccines successful.

Anti-glycan HIV-1 antibody biology. Our research premise is that vaccine-elicited antibodies will broadly neutralize HIV-1 if they can bind directly to the host glycans on Env. However, Env glycans are poorly immunogenic and require specific targeting by a vaccine immunogen to elicit an antibody response.  Using this technique we identified two monoclonal antibodies from HIV Env vaccinated macaques called DH501 and DH502 that bind directly to mannose glycans and to HIV-1 envelope (Env). We have characterized these antibodies using glycan immunoassays, antibody engineering, and x-ray crystallography to define the mechanisms of Env-glycan interaction by these antibodies. Glycan-reactive HIV antibodies have mostly been found in the repertoire as IgG2 and IgM isotypes—similar to known natural glycan antibodies. Therefore we are examining whether vaccines mobilize antibodies from the natural glycan pool that affinity mature to interact with HIV-1 envelope. During this work, we discovered that Man9GlcNAc2 is the glycan preferred by early precursors in broadly neutralizing antibody lineages. We translated this finding into a vaccine design strategy that we have termed “glycan learning.” This approach modifies the number of glycans and type of glycosylation of HIV-1 Env immunogens to be optimal for engagement of the precursor antibody. The Env glycosylation sites and glycan type are then modified on subsequent Env immunogens to select antibodies that are maturing towards a broadly neutralizing phenotype. We have developed cell culture procedures and purification strategies combined with mass spectrometry analyses to create Env immunogens with specific glycosylation profiles. While the overall goal is to elicit protective neutralizing antibodies in vivo, we use these Env antigens in vitro to investigate the biology of B cell receptor engagement. 

HIV-1 Sequential vaccine design. The discovery of lineages of broadly neutralizing antibodies in HIV-infected individuals has provided templates for vaccine design.  Utilizing viral sequences from individuals that make broadly neutralizing antibodies, we further engineer the viral protein to preferentially bind the desired type of antibody. We partner heavily with structural biologists and bioinformaticians to design optimized vaccine immunogens for in vitro and preclinical testing. We are investigating the hypothesis that broadly neutralizing antibodies can be engaged with envelope immunogens specifically designed to target them, and that engineered envelopes can select for the broadly neutralizing antibody precursors to develop into a broadly neutralizing antibody. We examine antibody responses in vaccinated humanized mice and monkeys to discern if the vaccine elicits antibodies that are similar to the known human broadly neutralizing antibody targets. Vaccines that are effective in animal models are translated for manufacturing and evaluation in Phase I clinical trials.

Pancoronavirus vaccine development. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saunders laboratory and DHVI as a whole worked to isolate broadly neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses. These antibodies then served as a template for the development of receptor binding domain nanoparticle vaccines we call RBD-scNP. These vaccines protected monkeys and mice from SARS-CoV-2 and animal coronaviruses. This vaccine has been translated to GMP manufacturing and will be examined in a Phase I clinical trial. The laboratory continues to apply similar approaches against other targets on coronaviruses to ultimately generate protective immunity against most coronaviruses. The laboratory explores different delivery methods including slow-release technology and nucleoside-modified mRNA delivery.

Taken together, our research program is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the molecular biology underlying antibody recognition of viral glycoproteins in order to produce protective vaccines.

Cain

Derek Wilson Cain

Associate Professor in Medicine

My research focuses on the interactions of T cells and B cells during infection or following vaccination. I am particularly interested in the inter- and intracellular events that take place within germinal centers, the anatomic site of antibody evolution during an immune response.


Wiehe

Kevin J Wiehe

Associate Professor in Medicine

Dr. Kevin Wiehe is the director of research, director of computational biology and co-director of the Quantitative Research Division at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI). He has over 20 years of experience in the field of computational biology and has expertise in computational structural biology, computational genomics, and computational immunology.

For the past decade, he has applied his unique background to developing computational approaches for studying the B cell response in both the infection and vaccination settings. He has utilized his expertise in computational structural biology to structurally model and characterize HIV and influenza antibody recognition. Dr. Wiehe has utilized his expertise in computational genomics and computational immunology to develop software to analyze large scale next generation sequencing data of antibody repertoires as well as develop computational programs for estimating antibody mutation probabilities. Dr. Wiehe has shown that low probability antibody mutations can act as rate-limiting steps in the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies in HIV.

Through his PhD, postdoc work, and now his roles at DHVI, Dr. Wiehe always approaches the analysis and the scientific discovery process from a structural biology perspective. Supporting the Duke Center for HIV Structural Biology (DCHSB), Dr. Wiehe will conduct antibody sequence analysis for antibodies used in computational and molecular modeling analyses conducted.

Williams

Wilton Bryan Williams

Associate Professor in Surgery

Dr. Williams completed a PhD in Biomedical Sciences (Immunology and Microbiology) from the University of Florida and did his postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Barton Haynes at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI).

The key goals of HIV vaccine development are to define the host-virus events during natural HIV infection that lead to the induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies, and to recreate those events with a vaccine. As a junior faculty member in the DHVI, Dr. Williams is further characterizing SHIV non-human primate models for HIV infection, and evaluates B cell responses to HIV-1 vaccination in humans and non-human primates.

Moody

Michael Anthony Moody

Professor of Pediatrics

Tony Moody, MD is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases and Professor in the Department of Integrative Immunobiology at Duke University Medical Center. Research in the Moody lab is focused on understanding the B cell responses during infection, vaccination, and disease. The lab has become a resource for human phenotyping, flow characterization, staining and analysis at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI). The Moody lab is currently funded to study influenza, syphilis, HIV-1, and emerging infectious diseases.

Dr. Moody is the director of the Duke CIVICs Vaccine Center (DCVC) at (DHVI) and co-director of the Centers for Research of Emerging Infectious Disease Coordinating Center (CREID-CC). Dr. Moody is mPI of a U01 program to develop a syphilis vaccine; this program is a collaboration with mPI Dr. Justin Radolf at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Moody is also the director of the DHVI Accessioning Unit, a biorepository that provides support for work occurring at DHVI and with its many collaborators around the world by providing processing, shipping, and inventory support for a wide array of projects.

Dr. Moody and his team are involved in many networks studying vaccine response including the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers (CIVICs) and the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN).

Alam

S. Munir Alam

Professor in Medicine

Research Interests. 

The Alam laboratory’s primary research is focused on understanding the biophysical properties of antigen-antibody binding and the molecular events of early B cell activation using the HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) lineage models. We are studying how HIV-1 Envelope proteins of varying affinities are sensed by B cells expressing HIV-1 bnAbs or their germline antigen receptors and initiate early signaling events for their activation. In the long-term these studies will facilitate design and pre-selection of immunogens for testing in animal models and accelerate HIV-1 vaccine development.
Current research include the following NIAID-funded projects   

Antigen recognition and activation of B cell antigen receptors with the specificity of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies. This project involves elucidating the early events on the B cell surface following antigen (Ag) engagement of the B cell antigen receptor (BCR) and to provide an assessment of the in vivo potential of an Ag to drive B cell activation. We are performing biophysical interactions analyses and using high-resolution microscopy to define the physico-chemical properties of BCR-Ag interactions that govern signaling and activation thresholds for BCR triggering and the BCR endocytic function in antigen internalization. The overall objective of these studies is to bridge the quantitative biophysical and membrane dynamics measurements of Ag-BCR interactions to ex-vivo and in-vivo B cell activation. This NIAID-funded research is a collaboration with co-investigators Professor Michael Reth (University of Freiburg, Germany) and Dr. Laurent Verkoczy (San Diego Biomedical Research Institute, CA).  

Immunogen Design for Induction of HIV gp41 Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies. This research project addresses the critical problem of vaccine induction of disfavored HIV-1 antibody lineages, like those that target the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of HIV Env gp41. This program combines structure and lineage-based vaccine development strategies to design immunogens that will induce bnAb lineages that are not polyreactive and therefore easier to induce. The overall objective of this program grant is to develop and test sequential immunogens that will initiate and induce HIV-1 bnAb lineages like the potent MPER bnAb DH511. Using a germline-targeting (GT) epitope scaffold design and a prime/boost strategy, we are testing induction of DH511-like bnAbs in knock-in (KI) mice models expressing the DH511 germline receptors. This P01 research program is in collaboration with Dr. William Schief (The Scripps Research Institute, CA), who leads the team that are designing germline targeting (GT)-scaffold prime and boost immunogens and Dr. Ming Tian at Harvard University who developed relevant knock-mice models for the study.
Denny

Thomas Norton Denny

Professor in Medicine

Thomas N. Denny, MSc, M.Phil, is the Chief Operating Officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), Associate Dean for Duke Research and Discovery @RTP, and a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. He is also an Affiliate Member of the Duke Global Health Institute. Previously, he served on the Health Sector Advisory Council of the Duke University Fuquay School of Business. Prior to joining Duke, he was an Associate Professor of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine and Pediatrics, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Assistant Dean for Research in Health Policy at the New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey. He has served on numerous committees for the NIH over the last two decades and currently is the principal investigator of an NIH portfolio in excess of 65 million dollars. Mr. Denny was a 2002-2003 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM). As a fellow, he served on the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee with legislation/policy responsibilities in global AIDS, bioterrorism, clinical trials/human subject protection and vaccine related-issues.

As the Chief Operating Officer of the DHVI, Mr. Denny has senior oversight of the DHVI research portfolio and the units/teams that support the DHVI mission. He has extensive international experience and previously was a consultant to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) project to oversee the development of an HIV and Public Health Center of Excellence laboratory network in Guyana. In September 2004, the IOM appointed him as a consultant to their Board on Global Health Committee studying the options for overseas placement of U.S. health professionals and the development of an assessment plan for activities related to the 2003 PEPFAR legislative act. In the 1980s, Mr. Denny helped establish a small laboratory in the Republic of Kalmykia (former Soviet Union) to improve the care of children with HIV/AIDS and served as a Board Member of the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund Foundation. In 2005, Mr. Denny was named a consulting medical/scientific officer to the WHO Global AIDS Program in Geneva. He has also served as program reviewers for the governments of the Netherlands and South Africa as well as an advisor to several U.S. biotech companies. He currently serves as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for Grid Biosciences.

Mr. Denny has authored and co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and serves on the editorial board of Communications in Cytometry and Journal of Clinical Virology. He holds an M.Sc in Molecular and Biomedical Immunology from the University of East London and a degree in Medical Law (M.Phil) from the Institute of Law and Ethics in Medicine, School of Law, University of Glasgow. In 1991, he completed a course of study in Strategic Management at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In 1993, he completed the Program for Advanced Training in Biomedical Research Management at Harvard School of Public Health. In December 2005, he was inducted as a Fellow into the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest medical society in the US.

While living in New Jersey, Mr. Denny was active in his community, gaining additional experience from two publicly elected positions. In 2000, Mr. Denny was selected by the New Jersey League of Municipalities to Chair the New Jersey Community Mental Health Citizens’ Advisory Board and Mental Health Planning Council as a gubernatorial appointment.

Acharya

Priyamvada Acharya

Associate Professor in Surgery
Haynes

Barton Ford Haynes

Frederic M. Hanes Distinguished Professor of Medicine

Barton F. Haynes, M.D. is the Frederic M. Hanes Professor of Medicine and Immunology, and Director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Prior to leading the DHVI, Dr. Haynes served as Chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and later as Chair of the Department of Medicine. As Director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Bart Haynes is leading a team of investigators working on vaccines for emerging infections, including tuberculosis, pandemic influenza, emerging coronaviruses, and HIV/AIDS.

To work on the AIDS vaccine problem, his group has been awarded two large consortium grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) known as the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) (2005-2012), and the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology-Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID) (2012-2019) to conduct discovery science to speed HIV vaccine development. In July 2019, his team received the third of NIH “CHAVI” awards to complete the HIV vaccine development work - CHAV-D.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Haynes and the DHVI Team has been working non-stop to develop vaccines, rapid and inexpensive tests and therapeutics to combat the pandemic. Since March 2020, he has served as a member of the NIH Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) committee to advise on COVID-19 vaccine development, and served as the co-chair of the ACTIV subcommittee on vaccine safety. Haynes is the winner of the Alexander Fleming Award from the Infectious Disease Society of America and the Ralph Steinman Award for Human Immunology Research from the American Association of Immunologists. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Inventors and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About the Haynes Laboratory
The Haynes lab is studying host innate and adaptive immune responses to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB), and influenza in order to find the enabling technology to make preventive vaccines against these three major infectious diseases.

Mucosal Immune Responses in Acute HIV Infection

The Haynes lab is working to determine why broadly neutralizing antibodies are rarely made in acute HIV infection (AHI), currently a major obstacle in the development of an HIV vaccine. The lab has developed a novel approach to define the B cell repertories in AHI in order to find neutralizing antibodies against the virus. This approach uses linear Immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy and light chain gene expression cassettes to express Ig V(H) and V(L) genes isolated from sorted single B cells as IgG1 antibody without a cloning step. This strategy was used to characterize the Ig repertoire of plasma cells/plasmablasts in AHI and to produce recombinant influenza mAbs from sorted single human plasmablasts after influenza vaccination.

The lab is also studying the earliest effect HIV-1 has on B cells. Analyzing blood and gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT) during acute HIV infection, they have found that as early as 17 days after transmission HIV-1 induces B cell class switching and 47 days after transmission, HIV-1 causes considerable damage to GALT germinal centers. They found that in AHI, GALT memory B cells induce polyclonal B cell activation due to the presence of HIV-1-specific, influenza-specific, and autoreactive antibodies. The team concluded from this study that early induction of polyclonal B cell differentiation, along with follicular damage and germinal center loss, may explain why HIV-1 induced antibody responses decline rapidly during acute HIV infection and why plasma antibody responses are delayed.

The lab is also looking at ways of generating long-lived memory B cell responses to HIV infection, another major hurdle in the development of a successful HIV-1 vaccine. The lab has found that in HIV-1 gp120 envelope vaccination and chronic HIV-1 infection, HIV-1 envelope induces predominantly short-lived memory B cell-dependent plasma antibodies.

Immunogen Design

To overcome the high level of genetic diversity in HIV-1 envelope genes, the Haynes lab is developing strategies to induce antibodies that cross-react with multiple strains of HIV. The lab has designed immunogens based on transmitted founder Envs and mosaic consensus Envs in collaboration with Dr. Bette Korber at Los Alamos National Laboratory. These immunogens are designed to induce antibodies that cross-react with a multiple subtype Env glycoproteins. The goal is to determine if cross-reactive mAbs to highly conserved epitopes in HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins can be induced. The team recently characterized a panel of ten mAbs that reacted with varying breadth to subtypes A, B, C, D, F, G, CRF01_AE, and a highly divergent SIVcpzUS Env protein. Two of the mAbs cross-reacted with all tested Env proteins, including SIVcpzUS Env and bound Env proteins with high affinity.

Mucosal Immune Responses in TB and Influenza

The Haynes lab is helping to develop novel approaches to TB vaccine development. The current therapeutic vaccine for TB, called BCG, may prevent complications from TB in children, but offers little protection against infection and disease in adults. The lab is focused on using live attenuated Mycobacterium tuberculosis mutants as vaccine candidates and is currently evaluating this approach in non-human primate studies. As part of the DHVI Influenza program, they are studying the B cell response to influenza in order to generate a “universal” flu vaccine. They are currently trying to express more highly conserved influenza antigens in recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vectors in order to elicit robust T cell and antibody responses to those antigens.

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