Selection of immunoglobulin elbow region mutations impacts interdomain conformational flexibility in HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies

Nat Commun. 2019 Feb 8;10(1):654. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08415-7.


Somatic mutations within antibody variable and framework regions (FWR) can alter thermostability and structural flexibility, but their impact on functional potency is unclear. Here we study thermostability and use molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to assess the role of FWR mutations during maturation of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs). The tested bnAbs show lower thermostability than their unmutated ancestor antibodies. FWR mutations in the Fab elbow region are frequently observed in HIV-1 bnAbs and MD simulations show that such FWR mutations alter interdomain flexibility in two HIV-1 bnAbs. In a CD4-binding site lineage, reversion mutations result in a loss of neutralization potency in an early intermediate and affinity-matured bnAb against autologous and heterologous Tier-2 viruses, respectively. Elbow region reversion mutations in a glycan-V3 bnAb modestly reduces potency against an autologous virus isolate. Thus, selection of mutations in the Fab elbow region impacts interdomain conformational flexibility and paratope plasticity during bnAb development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / genetics*
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology*
  • Calorimetry, Differential Scanning
  • Circular Dichroism
  • HIV Antibodies / genetics*
  • HIV Antibodies / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • HIV Antibodies