June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length HIV-1 env deep sequencing in a donor with broadly neutralizing V1/V2 antibodies.

Background: Understanding the co-evolution of HIV populations and broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) may inform vaccine design. Novel long-read, next-generation sequencing methods allow, for the first time, full-length deep sequencing of HIV env populations. Methods: We longitudinally examined HIV-1 env populations (12 time points) in a subtype A infected individual from the IAVI primary infection cohort (Protocol C) who developed bNAbs (62% ID50>50 on a diverse panel of 105 viruses) targeting the V1/V2 loop region. We developed a PacBio single molecule, real-time sequencing protocol to deeply sequence full-length env from HIV RNA. Bioinformatics tools were developed to align env sequences, infer phylogenies, and interrogate escape dynamics of key residues and glycosylation sites. PacBio env sequences were compared to env sequences generated through amplification and cloning. Env dynamics and viral escape motif evolution were interpreted in the context of the development V1/V2-targeting broadly neutralizing antibodies. Results: We collected a median of 6799 (range: 1770-14727) high quality full-length HIV env circular consensus sequences (CCS) per SMRT Cell, per time point. Using only CCS reads comprised of 6 or more passes over the HIV env insert (= 16 kb read length) ensured that our median per-base accuracy was 99.7%. A phylogeny inferred with PacBio and 100 cloned env sequences (10 time points) found the cloned sequences evenly distributed among PacBio sequences. Viral escape from the V1/V2 targeted bNAbs was evident at V2 positions 160, 166, 167, 169 and 181 (HxB2 numbering), exhibiting several distinct escape pathways by 40 months post-infection. Conclusions: Our PacBio full-length env sequencing method allowed unprecedented view and ability to characterize HIV-1 env dynamics throughout the first four years of infection. Longitudinal full-length env deep sequencing allows accurate phylogenetic inference, provides a detailed picture of escape dynamics in epitope regions, and can identify minority variants, all of which will prove critical for increasing our understanding of how env evolution drives the development of antibody breadth.


April 21, 2020  |  

Vaccine-induced protection from homologous tier 2 SHIV challenge in nonhuman primates depends on serum-neutralizing antibody titers.

Passive administration of HIV neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) can protect macaques from hard-to-neutralize (tier 2) chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge. However, conditions for nAb-mediated protection after vaccination have not been established. Here, we selected groups of 6 rhesus macaques with either high or low serum nAb titers from a total of 78 animals immunized with recombinant native-like (SOSIP) Env trimers. Repeat intrarectal challenge with homologous tier 2 SHIVBG505 led to rapid infection in unimmunized and low-titer animals. High-titer animals, however, demonstrated protection that was gradually lost as nAb titers waned over time. An autologous serum ID50 nAb titer of ~1:500 afforded more than 90% protection from medium-dose SHIV infection. In contrast, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and T cell activity did not correlate with protection. Therefore, Env protein-based vaccination strategies can protect against hard-to-neutralize SHIV challenge in rhesus macaques by inducing tier 2 nAbs, provided appropriate neutralizing titers can be reached and maintained. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Reduced frequency of HIV superinfection in a high-risk cohort in Zambia.

Rates of HIV-1 superinfection, re-infection with a genetically distinct virus despite HIV-1 specific immune responses, vary in different risk populations. We previously found the rates of superinfection were similar to primary HIV infection (PHI) in a Zambian heterosexual transmission cohort. Here, we conduct a similar analysis of 47 HIV-positive Zambians from an acute infection cohort with more frequent follow-up, all infected by non-spousal partners. We identified only one case of superinfection in the first two years, significantly fewer than in our previous study, which was likely due to increased counseling during acute infection and an overall population-wide decline in factors associated with HIV transmission. The predominant virus detected after superinfection was a recombinant of the transmitted founder (TF) and the superinfecting strain. The superinfected individual mounted a neutralizing antibody response to the primary TF virus, which remained TF-specific over time and even after superinfection, did not neutralize the superinfecting variant.Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.


July 19, 2019  |  

Full-Length Envelope Analyzer (FLEA): A tool for longitudinal analysis of viral amplicons.

Next generation sequencing of viral populations has advanced our understanding of viral population dynamics, the development of drug resistance, and escape from host immune responses. Many applications require complete gene sequences, which can be impossible to reconstruct from short reads. HIV env, the protein of interest for HIV vaccine studies, is exceptionally challenging for long-read sequencing and analysis due to its length, high substitution rate, and extensive indel variation. While long-read sequencing is attractive in this setting, the analysis of such data is not well handled by existing methods. To address this, we introduce FLEA (Full-Length Envelope Analyzer), which performs end-to-end analysis and visualization of long-read sequencing data. FLEA consists of both a pipeline (optionally run on a high-performance cluster), and a client-side web application that provides interactive results. The pipeline transforms FASTQ reads into high-quality consensus sequences (HQCSs) and uses them to build a codon-aware multiple sequence alignment. The resulting alignment is then used to infer phylogenies, selection pressure, and evolutionary dynamics. The web application provides publication-quality plots and interactive visualizations, including an annotated viral alignment browser, time series plots of evolutionary dynamics, visualizations of gene-wide selective pressures (such as dN/dS) across time and across protein structure, and a phylogenetic tree browser. We demonstrate how FLEA may be used to process Pacific Biosciences HIV env data and describe recent examples of its use. Simulations show how FLEA dramatically reduces the error rate of this sequencing platform, providing an accurate portrait of complex and variable HIV env populations. A public instance of FLEA is hosted at http://flea.datamonkey.org. The Python source code for the FLEA pipeline can be found at https://github.com/veg/flea-pipeline. The client-side application is available at https://github.com/veg/flea-web-app. A live demo of the P018 results can be found at http://flea.murrell.group/view/P018.


July 19, 2019  |  

Ultradeep single-molecule real-time sequencing of HIV envelope reveals complete compartmentalization of highly macrophage-tropic R5 proviral variants in brain and CXCR4-using variants in immune and peripheral tissues.

Despite combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), HIV+ patients still develop neurological disorders, which may be due to persistent HIV infection and selective evolution in brain tissues. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology offers an improved opportunity to study the relationship among HIV isolates in the brain and lymphoid tissues because it is capable of generating thousands of long sequence reads in a single run. Here, we used SMRT sequencing to generate ~?50,000 high-quality full-length HIV envelope sequences (>?2200 bp) from seven autopsy tissues from an HIV+/cART+ subject, including three brain and four non-brain sites. Sanger sequencing was used for comparison with SMRT data and to clone functional pseudoviruses for in vitro tropism assays. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that brain-derived HIV was compartmentalized from HIV outside the brain and that the variants from each of the three brain tissues grouped independently. Variants from all peripheral tissues were intermixed on the tree but independent of the brain clades. Due to the large number of sequences, a clustering analysis at three similarity thresholds (99, 99.5, and 99.9%) was also performed. All brain sequences clustered exclusive of any non-brain sequences at all thresholds; however, frontal lobe sequences clustered independently of occipital and parietal lobes. Translated sequences revealed potentially functional differences between brain and non-brain sequences in the location of putative N-linked glycosylation sites (N-sites), V1 length, V3 charge, and the number of V4 N-sites. All brain sequences were predicted to use the CCR5 co-receptor, while most non-brain sequences were predicted to use CXCR4 co-receptor. Tropism results were confirmed by in vitro infection assays. The study is the first to use a SMRT sequencing approach to study HIV compartmentalization in tissues and supports other reports of limited trafficking between brain and non-brain sequences during cART. Due to the long sequence length, we could observe changes along the entire envelope gene, likely caused by differential selective pressure in the brain that may contribute to neurological disease.


July 19, 2019  |  

HIV envelope glycoform heterogeneity and localized diversity govern the initiation and maturation of a V2 apex broadly neutralizing antibody lineage.

Understanding how broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) to HIV envelope (Env) develop during natural infection can help guide the rational design of an HIV vaccine. Here, we described a bnAb lineage targeting the Env V2 apex and the Ab-Env co-evolution that led to development of neutralization breadth. The lineage Abs bore an anionic heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 (CDRH3) of 25 amino acids, among the shortest known for this class of Abs, and achieved breadth with only 10% nucleotide somatic hypermutation and no insertions or deletions. The data suggested a role for Env glycoform heterogeneity in the activation of the lineage germline B cell. Finally, we showed that localized diversity at key V2 epitope residues drove bnAb maturation toward breadth, mirroring the Env evolution pattern described for another donor who developed V2-apex targeting bnAbs. Overall, these findings suggest potential strategies for vaccine approaches based on germline-targeting and serial immunogen design. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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