AAV-Mediated Expression of Broadly Neutralizing and Vaccine-like Antibodies Targeting the HIV-1 Envelope V2 Region

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2019 Jun 12;14:100-112. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2019.06.002. eCollection 2019 Sep 13.


HIV-1 infection continues to be a global health challenge and a vaccine is urgently needed. Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) are considered essential as they inhibit multiple HIV-1 strains, but they are difficult to elicit by conventional immunization. In contrast, non-neutralizing antibodies that correlated with reduced risk of infection in the RV144 HIV vaccine trial are relatively easy to induce, but responses are not durable. To overcome these obstacles, adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors were used to provide long-term expression of antibodies targeting the V2 region of the HIV-1 envelope protein, including the potent CAP256-VRC26.25 bNAb, as well as non-neutralizing CAP228 antibodies that resemble those elicited by vaccination. AAVs mediated effective antibody expression in cell culture and immunocompetent mice. Mean concentrations of human immunoglobulin G (IgG) in mouse sera increased rapidly following a single AAV injection, reaching 8-60 μg/mL for CAP256 antibodies and 44-220 μg/mL for CAP228 antibodies over 24 weeks, but antibody concentrations varied for individual mice. Secreted antibodies collected from serum retained the expected binding and neutralizing activity. The vectors generated here are, therefore, suitable for the delivery of V2-targeting HIV antibodies, and they could be used in a vectored immunoprophylaxis (VIP) approach to sustain the level of antibody expression required to prevent HIV infection.

Keywords: AAV; HIV vaccine; V2 apex; broadly neutralizing antibodies; gene transfer; vectored immunoprophylaxis.