Comprehensive antigenic map of a cleaved soluble HIV-1 envelope trimer

PLoS Pathog. 2015 Mar 25;11(3):e1004767. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004767. eCollection 2015 Mar.


The trimeric envelope (Env) spike is the focus of vaccine design efforts aimed at generating broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) to protect against HIV-1 infection. Three recent developments have facilitated a thorough investigation of the antigenic structure of the Env trimer: 1) the isolation of many bNAbs against multiple different epitopes; 2) the generation of a soluble trimer mimic, BG505 SOSIP.664 gp140, that expresses most bNAb epitopes; 3) facile binding assays involving the oriented immobilization of tagged trimers. Using these tools, we generated an antigenic map of the trimer by antibody cross-competition. Our analysis delineates three well-defined epitope clusters (CD4 binding site, quaternary V1V2 and Asn332-centered oligomannose patch) and new epitopes at the gp120-gp41 interface. It also identifies the relationships among these clusters. In addition to epitope overlap, we defined three more ways in which antibodies can cross-compete: steric competition from binding to proximal but non-overlapping epitopes (e.g., PGT151 inhibition of 8ANC195 binding); allosteric inhibition (e.g., PGT145 inhibition of 1NC9, 8ANC195, PGT151 and CD4 binding); and competition by reorientation of glycans (e.g., PGT135 inhibition of CD4bs bNAbs, and CD4bs bNAb inhibition of 8ANC195). We further demonstrate that bNAb binding can be complex, often affecting several other areas of the trimer surface beyond the epitope. This extensive analysis of the antigenic structure and the epitope interrelationships of the Env trimer should aid in design of both bNAb-based therapies and vaccines intended to induce bNAbs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / chemistry*
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Epitope Mapping
  • Epitopes / chemistry*
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Gene Products, env / chemistry*
  • Gene Products, env / immunology
  • HIV Antibodies / chemistry*
  • HIV Antibodies / immunology
  • HIV Antigens / chemistry*
  • HIV Antigens / immunology
  • HIV-1 / chemistry*
  • HIV-1 / immunology


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Epitopes
  • Gene Products, env
  • HIV Antibodies
  • HIV Antigens