How can HIV-type-1-Env immunogenicity be improved to facilitate antibody-based vaccine development?
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
No vaccine candidate has induced antibodies (Abs) that efficiently neutralize multiple primary isolates of HIV-1. Preexisting high titers of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) are essential, because the virus establishes infection before anamnestic responses could take effect. HIV-1 infection elicits Abs against Env, Gag, and other viral proteins, but of these only a subset of the anti-Env Abs can neutralize the virus. Whereas the corresponding proteins from other viruses form the basis of successful vaccines, multiple large doses of HIV-1 Env elicit low, transient titers of Abs that are not protective in humans. The inaccessibility of neutralization epitopes hinders NAb induction, but Env may also subvert the immune response by interacting with receptors on T cells, B cells, monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. Here, we discuss evidence from immunizations of different species with various modified Env constructs. We also suggest how the divergent Ab responses to Gag and Env during infection may reflect differences in B cell regulation. Drawing on these analyses, we outline strategies for improving Env as a component of a vaccine aimed at inducing strong and sustained NAb responses.