Mapping Polyclonal Antibody Responses in Non-human Primates Vaccinated With HIV Env Trimer Subunit Vaccines

March 17, 2020

Publication type

Journal Article


Cell Reports

Volume and Number



Nogal B, Bianchi M, Cottrell CA, Kirchdoerfer RN, Sewall LM, Turner HL, Zhao F, Sok D, Burton DR, Hangartner L, Ward AB


Rational immunogen design aims to focus antibody responses to vulnerable sites on primary antigens. Given the size of these antigens, there is, however, potential for eliciting unwanted, off-target responses. Here, we use our electron microscopy polyclonal epitope mapping approach to describe the antibody specificities elicited by immunization of non-human primates with soluble HIV envelope trimers and subsequent repeated viral challenge. An increased diversity of epitopes recognized and the approach angle by which these antibodies bind constitute a hallmark of the humoral response in most protected animals. We also show that fusion peptide-specific antibodies are likely responsible for some neutralization breadth. Moreover, cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) analysis of a fully protected animal reveals a high degree of clonality within a subset of putatively neutralizing antibodies, enabling a detailed molecular description of the antibody paratope. Our results provide important insights into the immune response against a vaccine candidate that entered into clinical trials in 2019.