Journal of virology

Effect of epitope position on neutralization by anti-human immunodeficiency virus monoclonal antibody 2F5.

PMID 16474160


The membrane-proximal region of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) transmembrane protein (TM) is critical for envelope (Env)-mediated membrane fusion and contains the target for broadly reactive neutralizing antibody 2F5. It has been proposed that 2F5 neutralization might involve interaction of its long, hydrophobic, complementarity-determining region (CDR) H3, with adjacent viral membrane. Using Moloney murine leukemia virus (MLV) as a tool, we examined the effect of epitope position on 2F5 neutralization. When the 2F5 epitope was inserted in the proline-rich region of MLV Env surface protein (SU), 2F5 blocked cell fusion and virus infection, whereas MLV with a hemagglutinin (HA) epitope at the same position was not neutralized by anti-HA, even though the antibodies bound their respective Envs on the surface of infected cells and viruses equally well. When the 2F5 epitope was inserted in the MLV Env TM at a position comparable to its natural position in HIV-1 TM, 2F5 antibody blocked Env-mediated cell fusion. Epitope position had subtle effects on neutralization by 2F5: the antibody concentration for 50% inhibition of cell fusion was more than 10-fold lower when the 2F5 epitope was in SU than in TM, and inhibition was less complete at high concentrations of antibody; we discuss possible explanations for these effects of epitope position. Since membrane proximity was not required for neutralization by 2F5 antibody, we speculate that the CDR H3 of 2F5 contributes to neutralization by destabilizing an adjacent protein rather than by inserting into an adjacent membrane.