Early Antibody Lineage Diversification and Independent Limb Maturation Lead to Broad HIV-1 Neutralization Targeting the Env High-Mannose Patch

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The high-mannose patch on HIV Env is a preferred target for broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs), but to date, no vaccination regimen has elicited bnAbs against this region. Here, we present the development of a bnAb lineage targeting the high-mannose patch in an HIV-1 subtype-C-infected donor from sub-Saharan Africa. The Abs first acquired autologous neutralization, then gradually matured to achieve breadth. One Ab neutralized >47% of HIV-1 strains with only ˜11% somatic hypermutation and no insertions or deletions. By sequencing autologousenv, we determined key residues that triggered the lineage and participated in Ab-Env coevolution. Next-generation sequencing of the Ab repertoire showed an early expansive diversification of the lineage followed by independent maturation of individual limbs, several of them developing notable breadth and potency. Overall, the findings are encouraging from a vaccine standpoint and suggest immunization strategies mimicking the evolution of the entire high-mannose patch and promoting maturation of multiple diverse Ab pathways.

Exploring the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) provides insight into improving HIV vaccination strategies. Poignard and colleagues describe the evolution of a bnAb lineage with diverse recognition of the conserved high-mannose patch on HIV Env and several promising features that provide optimism for eliciting similar responses through vaccination.

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