Eliciting neutralizing antibodies against the membrane proximal external region of HIV-1 Env by chimeric live attenuated influenza A virus vaccines.

PMID 26126669


Despite significant efforts directed toward research on HIV-1 vaccines, a truly effective immunogen has not been achieved. However, the broadly neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs) 2F5 and 4E10, targeting the highly conserved membrane proximal external region (MPER) of HIV-1, are two promising tools for vaccine development. Here we engrafted the MPER into the linker domain between the trimeric core structure and the transmembrane domain of influenza A virus HA2 to investigate the potential of such chimeric viruses to elicit HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies. In the context of proliferating attenuated influenza A viruses, these HIV-1 neutralizing antibody epitopes could be continuously expressed and mimicked their native conformation to induce humoral immune responses. While MPER-specific antibodies could be detected in serum of guinea pigs vaccinated with the chimeric viruses, they exhibited only weakly neutralizing activities. These antisera from vaccinated animals neutralized viruses of clades B and BC (tier 1), but not of clades AE (tier 1) and C (tier 2). These results suggest that influenza A virus can be used as a vehicle for displaying MPER and inducing BnAbs, but it provides limited protection against HIV-1 infection. In the future development of HIV-1 vaccines by rational design, a more effective live virus vector or multiple antigens should be chosen to facilitate the process of neutralizing antibody maturation.