Antibodies against conserved epitopes on HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env), such as the gp120 CD4-binding site (CD4bs), could contribute to protection against HIV-1. Env-based immunogens inducing such a response could be a major component of future anti-HIV-1 strategies. In this proof-of-concept study we describe the generation of two anti-idiotype (AI) murine antibodies mimicking the CD4bs epitope. Sera were collected from long-term non-progressor patients to obtain CD4bs-directed IgG, through sequential purification steps. The purified IgG were then used as Fab fragments to immunize mice for hybridoma generation. Two hybridomas (P1 and P2), reacting only against the CD4bs-directed IgG, were identified and characterized. The P1 and P2 antibodies were shown to recognize the idiotype of the broadly neutralizing anti-CD4bs human mAb b12. Both P1 and P2 Fabs were able to induce a strong anti-gp120 response in rabbits. Moreover, the rabbits' sera were shown to neutralize two sensitive tier 1 strains of HIV-1 in an Env-pseudotype neutralization assay. In particular, 3/5 rabbits in the P1 group and 1/5 in the P2 group showed greater than 80% neutralizing activity against the HXB2 pseudovirus. Two rabbits also neutralized the pseudovirus HIV-MN. Overall, these data describe the first anti-idiotypic vaccine approach performed to generate antibodies to the CD4bs of the HIV-1 gp120. Although future studies will be necessary to improve strength and breadth of the elicited neutralizing response, this proof-of-concept study documents that immunogens designed on the idiotype of broadly neutralizing Abs are feasible and could help in the design of future anti-HIV strategies.
Burioni, R., Mancini, N., De Marco, D., Clementi, N., Perotti, M., Nitti, G., … Clementi, M. (2008). Anti-HIV-1 response elicited in rabbits by anti-idiotype monoclonal antibodies mimicking the CD4-binding site. PLoS ONE, 3(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003423