Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) diversity is a significant challenge in developing a vaccine against the virus. B/C recombinants have been found in India and other places but are the predominant clade prevalent in China. HIV-1 envelopes (Envs) are the target of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) which develop spontaneously in some HIV-1 infected patients. It has been previously reported with efficiently cleaved clade A, B and C Envs that preferential binding of Envs to bNAbs as opposed to non-NAbs, a desirable property for immunogens, is correlated with efficient cleavage of the Env precursor polypeptide into constituent subunits. These Envs are suitable for designing immunogens as soluble proteins, virus-like particles or for delivery by viral vectors/plasmid DNA. However, a B/C recombinant Env with similar properties has not been reported. Here we show that the chimeric, recombinant B/C clade Env LT5.J4b12C is efficiently cleaved on the plasma membrane and selectively binds to bNAbs.
Keywords: HIV-1; broadly neutralizing antibodies, non-neutralizing antibodies; efficient cleavage; envelope; vaccine.