Key gp120 Glycans Pose Roadblocks to the Rapid Development of VRC01-Class Antibodies in an HIV-1-Infected Chinese Donor

Immunity. 2016 Apr 19;44(4):939-50. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2016.03.006. Epub 2016 Apr 5.


VRC01-class antibodies neutralize diverse HIV-1 strains by targeting the conserved CD4-binding site. Despite extensive investigations, crucial events in the early stage of VRC01 development remain elusive. We demonstrated how VRC01-class antibodies emerged in a Chinese donor by antigen-specific single B cell sorting, structural and functional studies, and longitudinal antibody and virus repertoire analyses. A monoclonal antibody DRVIA7 with modest neutralizing breadth was isolated that displayed a subset of VRC01 signatures. X-ray and EM structures revealed a VRC01-like angle of approach, but less favorable interactions between the DRVIA7 light-chain CDR1 and the N terminus with N276 and V5 glycans of gp120. Although the DRVIA7 lineage was unable to acquire broad neutralization, longitudinal analysis revealed a repertoire-encoded VRC01 light-chain CDR3 signature and VRC01-like neutralizing heavy-chain precursors that rapidly matured within 2 years. Thus, light chain accommodation of the glycan shield should be taken into account in vaccine design targeting this conserved site of vulnerability.

Keywords: B cell development; CD4-binding site; HIV infection; VRC01 class; antibody maturation; broadly neutralizing antibodies; glycan shield; gp120; rational vaccine design; virus-host co-evolution.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology*
  • Binding Sites, Antibody / immunology*
  • Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • HIV Antibodies / immunology*
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies
  • HIV Antibodies
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • VRC01 monoclonal antibody
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • gp120 protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 1
  • gp140 envelope protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 1