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    A new generation of extremely broad and potent neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) has been isolated from HIV-infected subjects. This has refocused interest in the sites of vulnerability targeted by these bNAbs and in the potential for designing Envelope (Env) immunogens that display these sites. Standard methods for evaluating HIV-1 vaccine candidates do not enable epitope mapping on the HIV Env spike, the target for NAbs. To meet the need for rapid analysis of Ab specificity, we designed a multiplexed, quantitative mapping assay that can test for serum Ab competition for the binding of an HIV-1 Env gp120 to a panel of bNAbs directed to different sites of vulnerability on the Env that do not compete for one another in the assay. Using serum samples from rabbits immunized with various DNA prime/gp120 protein boost vaccines we were able to detect serum Ab competition for multiple classes of bNAbs in the postimmune samples that were significantly higher than background competition detected in samples obtained prior to vaccination. Importantly, application of this novel assay to our ongoing HIV-1 Env viral vector studies in mice has allowed us to distinguish qualitative differences in the Ab elicited by various regimens that ELISA cannot. Furthermore, pooled immunoglobulin from HIV-infected donors (HIVIg) competes for binding to the bNAb panel whereas a control pool from HIV-negative donors does not, highlighting the utility of this assay for human studies. This novel assay will add value in rational immunogen design and in the detailed, qualitative evaluation of binding and, potentially, neutralizing Abs elicited by natural infections and HIV-1 vaccine candidates.


    Rebecca L R Powell, Ross W B Lindsay, Aaron Wilson, Alexei Carpov, Svetlana Rabinovich, Simon Hoffenberg, Michael J Caulfield. Rapid, quantitative mapping of anti-HIV type 1 envelope serum antibody specificities. AIDS research and human retroviruses. 2013 Jun;29(6):971-8

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    PMID: 23394346

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