N-linked glycan modifications in gp120 of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 subtype C render partial sensitivity to 2G12 antibody neutralization

J Virol. 2007 Oct;81(19):10769-76. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01106-07. Epub 2007 Jul 18.


The monoclonal antibody (MAb) 2G12 recognizes a cluster of high-mannose oligosaccharides on the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein gp120 and is one of a select group of MAbs with broad neutralizing activity. However, subtype C viruses are generally resistant to 2G12 neutralization. This has been attributed to the absence of a glycosylation site at position 295 in most subtype C gp120s, which instead is typically occupied by a Val residue. Here we show that N-linked glycans in addition to the one at position 295 are important in the formation of the 2G12 epitope in subtype C gp120. Introduction of the glycosylation site at position 295 into three subtype C molecular clones, Du151.2, COT9.6, and COT6.15, did increase 2G12 binding to all three mutagenized gp120s, but at various levels. The COT9-V295N mutant showed the strongest 2G12 binding and was the only mutant to become sensitive to 2G12 neutralization, although very high antibody concentrations were required. Introduction of a glycosylation site at position 448 into mutant COT6-V295N, which occurs naturally in COT9, resulted in a virus that was partially sensitive to 2G12. Interestingly, a glycosylation site at position 442, which is common among subtype C viruses, also contributed to the 2G12 epitope. The addition of this glycan increased virus neutralization sensitivity to 2G12, whereas its deletion conferred resistance. Collectively, our results indicate that the 2G12 binding site cannot readily be reconstituted on the envelopes of subtype C viruses, suggesting structural differences from other HIV subtypes in which the 2G12 epitope is naturally expressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • Binding Sites, Antibody
  • Epitopes / chemistry
  • Epitopes / genetics
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • Glycosylation
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / chemistry
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / genetics
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / immunology*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Valine / genetics
  • Valine / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Epitopes
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • Polysaccharides
  • Valine