Induction of Transient Virus Replication Facilitates Antigen-Independent Isolation of SIV-Specific Monoclonal Antibodies

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2020 Feb 13;16:225-237. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2020.01.010. eCollection 2020 Mar 13.


Structural characterization of the HIV-1 Envelope (Env) glycoprotein has facilitated the development of Env probes to isolate HIV-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). However, preclinical studies have largely evaluated these virus-specific mAbs against chimeric viruses, which do not naturally infect non-human primates, in contrast to the unconstrained simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)mac239 clone. Given the paucity of native-like reagents for the isolation of SIV-specific B cells, we examined a method to isolate SIVmac239-specific mAbs without using Env probes. We first activated virus-specific B cells by inducing viral replication after the infusion of a CD8β-depleting mAb or withdrawal of antiretroviral therapy in SIVmac239-infected rhesus macaques. Following the rise in viremia, we observed 2- to 4-fold increases in the number of SIVmac239 Env-reactive plasmablasts in circulation. We then sorted these activated B cells and obtained 206 paired Ab sequences. After expressing 122 mAbs, we identified 14 Env-specific mAbs. While these Env-specific mAbs bound to both the SIVmac239 SOSIP.664 trimer and to infected primary rhesus CD4+ T cells, five also neutralized SIVmac316. Unfortunately, none of these mAbs neutralized SIVmac239. Our data show that this method can be used to isolate virus-specific mAbs without antigenic probes by inducing bursts of contemporary replicating viruses in vivo.

Keywords: CD8b depletion; SIV; antiretroviral therapy interruption; monoclonal antibodies; rhesus macaques.