Targeting a neutralizing epitope of HIV envelope Gp120 by immune complex vaccine

Rajnish Kumar, Maria Luisa Visciano, Hualin Li, Catarina Hioe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


There are formidable challenges in developing HIV vaccines that elicit potent neutralizing antibodies against a broad array of HIV-1 isolates. The key targets for these neutralizing antibodies are the viral envelope antigens gp120 and gp41. Although broadly reactive neutralizing epitopes on gp120 and gp41 have been mapped and studied extensively, these epitopes are poorly immunogenic. Indeed, various vaccine candidates tested in preclinical and clinical trials do not generate antibodies against these epitopes. Hence, novel immunogen designs to augment the immunogenicity of these neutralizing epitopes are wanted. In this review, a unique immunogen design strategy that exploits immune complexes of gp120 and selected anti-gp120 monoclonal antibodies (mAb) to elicit neutralizing antibodies against cross-reactive V3 epitopes is discussed. The ability of these complexes to stimulate neutralizing antibodies is dictated by fine specificity and affinity of mAbs used to form the complexes, indicating the contribution of Fab-mediated activity, rather than conventional Fc-mediated enhancement. Further improvement of V3 immunogenicity is attainable by forming immune complexes with gp120 mutants lacking site-specific N-linked glycans. The increased V3 immunogenicity on the mutated gp120/mAb complexes correlates with enhancement of in vitro antibody recognition (antigenicity) and proteolytic resistance of V3 epitopes when presented on the complexes. These insights should provide guidelines for the development of more potent immunogens that target not only the prototypic V3 epitopes but also other broadly reactive epitopes on the HIV envelope.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of AIDS and Clinical Research
Issue numberSPL ISSUE8
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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