Dynamic evolution of antibody populations in a rhesus macaque infected with attenuated simian immunodeficiency virus identified by surface plasmon resonance

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Increasing evidence suggests that an effective AIDS vaccine will need to elicit broadly neutralizing antibody responses. However, the mechanisms of antibody-mediated neutralization have not been defined. Previous studies from our lab have identified significant differences in the rates of antibody binding to trimeric SIV envelope proteins that correlate with neutralization sensitivity. Importantly, these results demonstrate differences in monoclonal antibody (MAb) binding to neutralization-sensitive and neutralization-resistant envelope proteins, suggesting that one mechanism for virus neutralization may be related to the stability of antibody binding. To date, little has been done to evaluate the binding properties of polyclonal serum antibodies elicited by SIV infection or vaccination.


In the current study, we translate these findings with MAbs to study antibody binding properties of polyclonal serum antibody responses generated in rhesus macaques infected with attenuated SIV. Quantitative and qualitative binding properties of well-characterized longitudinal serum samples to trimeric, recombinant SIV gp140 envelope proteins were analyzed using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technology (Biacore).


Results from these studies identified two antibody populations in most of the samples analyzed; one antibody population exhibited fast association/dissociation rates (unstable) while the other population demonstrated slower association/dissociation rates (stable). Over time, the percentage of the total binding response of each antibody population evolved, demonstrating a dynamic evolution of the antibody response that was consistent with the maturation of antibody responses defined using our standard panel of serological assays. However, the current studies provided a higher resolution analysis of polyclonal antibody binding properties, particularly with respect to the early time-points post-infection (PI), that is not possible with standard serological assays. More importantly, the increased stability of the antibody population with time PI corresponded with potent neutralization of homologous SIV in vitro.


These results suggest that the stability of the antibody–envelope interaction may be an important mechanism of serum antibody virus neutralization. In addition, measurements of the ‘apparent’ rates of association and dissociation may offer unique numerical descriptors to characterize the level of antibody maturation achieved by candidate vaccine strategies capable of eliciting broadly neutralizing antibody responses.

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