Enhancing and shaping the immunogenicity of native-like HIV-1 envelope trimers with a two-component protein nanoparticle
env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
The development of native-like HIV-1 envelope (Env) trimer antigens has enabled the induction of neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses against neutralization-resistant HIV-1 strains in animal models. However, NAb responses are relatively weak and narrow in specificity. Displaying antigens in a multivalent fashion on nanoparticles (NPs) is an established strategy to increase their immunogenicity. Here we present the design and characterization of two-component protein NPs displaying 20 stabilized SOSIP trimers from various HIV-1 strains. The two-component nature permits the incorporation of exclusively well-folded, native-like Env trimers into NPs that self-assemble in vitro with high efficiency. Immunization studies show that the NPs are particularly efficacious as priming immunogens, improve the quality of the Ab response over a conventional one-component nanoparticle system, and are most effective when SOSIP trimers with an apex-proximate neutralizing epitope are displayed. Their ability to enhance and shape the immunogenicity of SOSIP trimers make these NPs a promising immunogen platform.