Selective expansion of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein-specific B cell subsets recognizing distinct structural elements following immunization

J Immunol. 2009 Sep 1;183(5):3373-82. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0900407.


The HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) functional spike has evolved multiple immune evasion strategies, and only a few broadly neutralizing determinants on the assembled spike are accessible to Abs. Serological studies, based upon Ab binding and neutralization activity in vitro, suggest that vaccination with current Env-based immunogens predominantly elicits Abs that bind nonneutralizing or strain-restricted neutralizing epitopes. However, the fractional specificities of the polyclonal mixture of Abs present in serum, especially those directed to conformational Env epitopes, are often difficult to determine. Furthermore, serological analyses do not provide information regarding how repeated Ag inoculation impacts the expansion and maintenance of Env-specific B cell subpopulations. Therefore, we developed a highly sensitive Env-specific B cell ELISPOT system, which allows the enumeration of Ab-secreting cells (ASC) from diverse anatomical compartments directed against different structural determinants of Env. In this study, we use this system to examine the evolution of B cell responses in mice immunized with engineered Env trimers in adjuvant. We demonstrate that the relative proportion of ASC specific for defined structural elements of Env is altered significantly by homologous booster immunizations. This results in the selective expansion of ASC directed against the variable regions of Env. We suggest that the B cell specificity and compartment analysis described in this study are important complements to serological mapping studies for the examination of B cell responses against subspecificities of a variety of immunogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • AIDS Vaccines / genetics
  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / immunology
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / metabolism
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / virology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / virology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / virology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte / administration & dosage
  • Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • HIV Antibodies / biosynthesis
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • Immunologic Memory* / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Spleen / virology
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / genetics
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / immunology
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / administration & dosage
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / biosynthesis
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / chemistry
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / immunology*


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte
  • HIV Antibodies
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • gp140 envelope protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 1