Efficient cleavage of HIV-1 Env gp160 into its constituent subunits correlates with selective binding to neutralizing antibodies and are the closest mimetic of native, functional Envs. This was first demonstrated with the clade B Env, JRFL. The correlation between efficient cleavage and selective binding to neutralizing antibodies is the guiding principle for immunogen design for HIV vaccine. We have recently reported that Envs 4-2.J41 (clade C) and JRCSF (clade B) are also efficiently cleaved and show similar properties. However, an efficiently cleaved, membrane-bound clade A Env suitable for genetic vaccination has not been directly demonstrated. Here we report that BG505 and a new clade A Env, QB726.70M.ENV.C4 (or A5) are efficiently cleaved on cell membrane. A5 shows desirable antigenic properties comparable with BG505 on cell surface. A5SOSIP in supernatant displays majority of bNAb binding epitopes. Thus, both BG505 and A5 Envs can be used in DNA prime-protein boost vaccination studies.
Keywords: Broadly neutralizing antibodies; Clade A; Efficiently cleaved; Envelope; HIV-1.
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