Antigenicity and Immunogenicity of HIV-1 Envelope Trimers Complexed to a Small-Molecule Viral Entry Inhibitor.
Small-molecule viral entry inhibitors, such as BMS-626529 (BMS-529), allosterically block CD4 binding to HIV-1 envelope (Env) and inhibit CD4-induced structural changes in Env trimers. Here, we show that the binding of BMS-529 to clade C soluble chimeric gp140 SOSIP (ch.SOSIP) and membrane-bound trimers with intact transmembrane domain (gp150) prevented trimer conformational transitions and enhanced their immunogenicity. When complexed to BMS-529, ch.SOSIP trimers retained their binding to broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) and to their unmutated common ancestor (UCA) antibodies, while exposure of CD4-induced (CD4i) non-bNAb epitopes was inhibited. BMS-529-complexed gp150 trimers in detergent micelles, which were isolated from CHO cells, bound to bNAbs, including UCA and intermediates of the CD4 binding site (bs) CH103 bNAb lineage, and showed limited exposure of CD4i epitopes and a glycosylation pattern with a preponderance of high-mannose glycans. In rabbits, BMS-529-complexed V3 glycan-targeting ch.SOSIP immunogen induced in the majority of immunized animals higher neutralization titers against both autologous and select high mannose-bearing heterologous tier 2 pseudoviruses than those immunized with the noncomplexed ch.SOSIP. In rhesus macaques, BMS-529 complexed to CD4 bs-targeting ch.SOSIP immunogen induced stronger neutralization against tier 2 pseudoviruses bearing high-mannose glycans than noncomplexed ch.SOSIP trimer immunogen. When immunized with gp150 complexed to BMS-529, rhesus macaques showed neutralization against tier 2 pseudoviruses with targeted glycan deletion and high-mannose glycan enrichment. These results demonstrated that stabilization of Env trimer conformation with BMS-529 improved the immunogenicity of select chimeric SOSIP trimers and elicited tier 2 neutralizing antibodies of higher potency than noncomplexed trimers.IMPORTANCE Soluble forms of HIV-1 envelope trimers exhibit conformational heterogeneity and undergo CD4-induced (CD4i) exposure of epitopes of non-neutralizing antibodies that can potentially hinder induction of broad neutralizing antibody responses. These limitations have been mitigated through recent structure-guided approaches and include trimer-stabilizing mutations that resist trimer conformational transition and exposure of CD4i epitopes. The use of small-molecule viral inhibitors that allosterically block CD4 binding represents an alternative strategy for stabilizing Env trimer in the pre-CD4-triggered state of both soluble and membrane-bound trimers. In this study, we report that the viral entry inhibitor BMS-626529 restricts trimer conformational transition and improves the immunogenicity of select Env trimer immunogens.
Alam, S Munir, Kenneth Cronin, Robert Parks, Kara Anasti, Haitao Ding, Eden P. Go, Heather Desaire, et al. “Antigenicity and Immunogenicity of HIV-1 Envelope Trimers Complexed to a Small-Molecule Viral Entry Inhibitor.” J Virol 94, no. 21 (October 14, 2020). https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00958-20.