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.


June 1, 2021  |  

The MHC Diversity in Africa Project (MDAP) pilot – 125 African high resolution HLA types from 5 populations

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC), or human leukocyte antigen (HLA) in humans, is a highly diverse gene family with a key role in immune response to disease; and has been implicated in auto-immune disease, cancer, infectious disease susceptibility, and vaccine response. It has clinical importance in the field of solid organ and bone marrow transplantation, where donors and recipient matching of HLA types is key to transplanted organ outcomes. The Sanger based typing (SBT) methods currently used in clinical practice do not capture the full diversity across this region, and require specific reference sequences to deconvolute ambiguity in HLA types. However, reference databases are based largely on European populations, and the full extent of diversity in Africa remains poorly understood. Here, we present the first systematic characterisation of HLA diversity within Africa in the pilot phase of the MHC Diversity in Africa Project, together with an evaluation of methods to carry out scalable cost-effective, as well as reliable, typing of this region in African populations.To sample a geographically representative panel of African populations we obtained 125 samples, 25 each from the Zulu (South Africa), Igbo (Nigeria), Kalenjin (Kenya), Moroccan and Ashanti (Ghana) groups. For methods validation we included two controls from the International Histocompatibility Working Group (IHWG) collection with known typing information. Sanger typing and Illumina HiSeq X sequencing of these samples indicated potentially novel Class I and Class II alleles; however, we found poor correlation between HiSeq X sequencing and SBT for both classes. Long Range PCR and high resolution PacBio RS-II typing of 4 of these samples identified 7 novel Class II alleles, highlighting the high levels of diversity in these populations, and the need for long read sequencing approaches to characterise this comprehensively. We have now expanded this approach to the entire pilot set of 125 samples. We present these confirmed types and discuss a workflow for scaling this to 5000 individuals across Africa.The large number of new alleles identified in our pilot suggests the high level of African HLA diversity and the utility of high resolution methods. The MDAP project will provide a framework for accurate HLA typing, in addition to providing an invaluable resource for imputation in GWAS, boosting power to identify and resolve HLA disease associations.


April 21, 2020  |  

Kaposi Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Glycoprotein H Is Indispensable for Infection of Epithelial, Endothelial, and Fibroblast Cell Types.

Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is an emerging pathogen and is the causative infectious agent of Kaposi sarcoma and two malignancies of B cell origin. To date, there is no licensed KSHV vaccine. Development of an effective vaccine against KSHV continues to be limited by a poor understanding of how the virus initiates acute primary infection in vivo in diverse human cell types. The role of glycoprotein H (gH) in herpesvirus entry mechanisms remains largely unresolved. To characterize the requirement for KSHV gH in the viral life cycle and in determination of cell tropism, we generated and characterized a mutant KSHV in which expression of gH was abrogated. Using a bacterial artificial chromosome containing a complete recombinant KSHV genome and recombinant DNA technology, we inserted stop codons into the gH coding region. We used electron microscopy to reveal that the gH-null mutant virus assembled and exited from cells normally, compared to wild-type virus. Using purified virions, we assessed infectivity of the gH-null mutant in diverse mammalian cell types in vitro Unlike wild-type virus or a gH-containing revertant, the gH-null mutant was unable to infect any of the epithelial, endothelial, or fibroblast cell types tested. However, its ability to infect B cells was equivocal and remains to be investigated in vivo due to generally poor infectivity in vitro Together, these results suggest that gH is critical for KSHV infection of highly permissive cell types, including epithelial, endothelial, and fibroblast cells.IMPORTANCE All homologues of herpesvirus gH studied to date have been implicated in playing an essential role in viral infection of diverse permissive cell types. However, the role of gH in the mechanism of KSHV infection remains largely unresolved. In this study, we generated a gH-null mutant KSHV and provided evidence that deficiency of gH expression did not affect viral particle assembly or egress. Using the gH-null mutant, we showed that gH was indispensable for KSHV infection of epithelial, endothelial, and fibroblast cells in vitro This suggests that gH is an important target for the development of a KSHV prophylactic vaccine to prevent initial viral infection.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Current advances in HIV vaccine preclinical studies using Macaque models.

The macaque simian or simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SIV/SHIV) challenge model has been widely used to inform and guide human vaccine trials. Substantial advances have been made recently in the application of repeated-low-dose challenge (RLD) approach to assess SIV/SHIV vaccine efficacies (VE). Some candidate HIV vaccines have shown protective effects in preclinical studies using the macaque SIV/SHIV model but the model’s true predictive value for screening potential HIV vaccine candidates needs to be evaluated further. Here, we review key parameters used in the RLD approach and discuss their relevance for evaluating VE to improve preclinical studies of candidate HIV vaccines.Crown Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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  |  

Rapid and Focused Maturation of a VRC01-Class HIV Broadly Neutralizing Antibody Lineage Involves Both Binding and Accommodation of the N276-Glycan.

The VH1-2 restricted VRC01-class of antibodies targeting the HIV envelope CD4 binding site are a major focus of HIV vaccine strategies. However, a detailed analysis of VRC01-class antibody development has been limited by the rare nature of these responses during natural infection and the lack of longitudinal sampling of such responses. To inform vaccine strategies, we mapped the development of a VRC01-class antibody lineage (PCIN63) in the subtype C infected IAVI Protocol C neutralizer PC063. PCIN63 monoclonal antibodies had the hallmark VRC01-class features and demonstrated neutralization breadth similar to the prototype VRC01 antibody, but were 2- to 3-fold less mutated. Maturation occurred rapidly within ~24 months of emergence of the lineage and somatic hypermutations accumulated at key contact residues. This longitudinal study of broadly neutralizing VRC01-class antibody lineage reveals early binding to the N276-glycan during affinity maturation, which may have implications for vaccine design.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Atlas of group A streptococcal vaccine candidates compiled using large-scale comparative genomics.

Group A Streptococcus (GAS; Streptococcus pyogenes) is a bacterial pathogen for which a commercial vaccine for humans is not available. Employing the advantages of high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to vaccine design, we have analyzed 2,083 globally sampled GAS genomes. The global GAS population structure reveals extensive genomic heterogeneity driven by homologous recombination and overlaid with high levels of accessory gene plasticity. We identified the existence of more than 290 clinically associated genomic phylogroups across 22 countries, highlighting challenges in designing vaccines of global utility. To determine vaccine candidate coverage, we investigated all of the previously described GAS candidate antigens for gene carriage and gene sequence heterogeneity. Only 15 of 28 vaccine antigen candidates were found to have both low naturally occurring sequence variation and high (>99%) coverage across this diverse GAS population. This technological platform for vaccine coverage determination is equally applicable to prospective GAS vaccine antigens identified in future studies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Reference genome and comparative genome analysis for the WHO reference strain for Mycobacterium bovis BCG Danish, the present tuberculosis vaccine.

Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (M. bovis BCG) is the only vaccine available against tuberculosis (TB). In an effort to standardize the vaccine production, three substrains, i.e. BCG Danish 1331, Tokyo 172-1 and Russia BCG-1 were established as the WHO reference strains. Both for BCG Tokyo 172-1 as Russia BCG-1, reference genomes exist, not for BCG Danish. In this study, we set out to determine the completely assembled genome sequence for BCG Danish and to establish a workflow for genome characterization of engineering-derived vaccine candidate strains.By combining second (Illumina) and third (PacBio) generation sequencing in an integrated genome analysis workflow for BCG, we could construct the completely assembled genome sequence of BCG Danish 1331 (07/270) (and an engineered derivative that is studied as an improved vaccine candidate, a SapM KO), including the resolution of the analytically challenging long duplication regions. We report the presence of a DU1-like duplication in BCG Danish 1331, while this tandem duplication was previously thought to be exclusively restricted to BCG Pasteur. Furthermore, comparative genome analyses of publicly available data for BCG substrains showed the absence of a DU1 in certain BCG Pasteur substrains and the presence of a DU1-like duplication in some BCG China substrains. By integrating publicly available data, we provide an update to the genome features of the commonly used BCG strains.We demonstrate how this analysis workflow enables the resolution of genome duplications and of the genome of engineered derivatives of the BCG Danish vaccine strain. The BCG Danish WHO reference genome will serve as a reference for future engineered strains and the established workflow can be used to enhance BCG vaccine standardization.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Anaplasma ovis genome reveals a high proportion of pseudogenes.

The genus Anaplasma is made up of organisms characterized by small genomes that are undergoing reductive evolution. Anaplasma ovis, one of the seven recognized species in this genus, is an understudied pathogen of sheep and other ruminants. This tick-borne agent is thought to induce only mild clinical disease; however, small deficits may add to larger economic impacts due to the wide geographic distribution of this pathogen.In this report we present the first complete genome sequence for A. ovis and compare the genome features with other closely related species. The 1,214,674?bp A. ovis genome encodes 933 protein coding sequences, the split operon arrangement for ribosomal RNA genes, and more pseudogenes than previously recognized for other Anaplasma species. The metabolic potential is similar to other Anaplasma species. Anaplasma ovis has a small repertoire of surface proteins and transporters. Several novel genes are identified.Analyses of these important features and significant gene families/genes with potential to be vaccine candidates are presented in a comparative context. The availability of this genome will significantly facilitate research for this pathogen.


October 23, 2019  |  

AAV-mediated delivery of zinc finger nucleases targeting hepatitis B virus inhibits active replication.

Despite an existing effective vaccine, hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a major public health concern. There are effective suppressive therapies for HBV, but they remain expensive and inaccessible to many, and not all patients respond well. Furthermore, HBV can persist as genomic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) that remains in hepatocytes even during otherwise effective therapy and facilitates rebound in patients after treatment has stopped. Therefore, the need for an effective treatment that targets active and persistent HBV infections remains. As a novel approach to treat HBV, we have targeted the HBV genome for disruption to prevent viral reactivation and replication. We generated 3 zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) that target sequences within the HBV polymerase, core and X genes. Upon the formation of ZFN-induced DNA double strand breaks (DSB), imprecise repair by non-homologous end joining leads to mutations that inactivate HBV genes. We delivered HBV-specific ZFNs using self-complementary adeno-associated virus (scAAV) vectors and tested their anti-HBV activity in HepAD38 cells. HBV-ZFNs efficiently disrupted HBV target sites by inducing site-specific mutations. Cytotoxicity was seen with one of the ZFNs. scAAV-mediated delivery of a ZFN targeting HBV polymerase resulted in complete inhibition of HBV DNA replication and production of infectious HBV virions in HepAD38 cells. This effect was sustained for at least 2 weeks following only a single treatment. Furthermore, high specificity was observed for all ZFNs, as negligible off-target cleavage was seen via high-throughput sequencing of 7 closely matched potential off-target sites. These results show that HBV-targeted ZFNs can efficiently inhibit active HBV replication and suppress the cellular template for HBV persistence, making them promising candidates for eradication therapy.


October 23, 2019  |  

Structural determination of the broadly reactive anti-IGHV1-69 anti-idiotypic antibody G6 and its idiotope.

The heavy chain IGHV1-69 germline gene exhibits a high level of polymorphism and shows biased use in protective antibody (Ab) responses to infections and vaccines. It is also highly expressed in several B cell malignancies and autoimmune diseases. G6 is an anti-idiotypic monoclonal Ab that selectively binds to IGHV1-69 heavy chain germline gene 51p1 alleles that have been implicated in these Ab responses and disease processes. Here, we determine the co-crystal structure of humanized G6 (hG6.3) in complex with anti-influenza hemagglutinin stem-directed broadly neutralizing Ab D80. The core of the hG6.3 idiotope is a continuous string of CDR-H2 residues starting with M53 and ending with N58. G6 binding studies demonstrate the remarkable breadth of binding to 51p1 IGHV1-69 Abs with diverse CDR-H3, light chain, and antigen binding specificities. These studies detail the broad expression of the G6 cross-reactive idiotype (CRI) that further define its potential role in precision medicine. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


October 23, 2019  |  

Bioengineered viral platform for intramuscular passive vaccine delivery to human skeletal muscle.

Skeletal muscle is ideal for passive vaccine administration as it is easily accessible by intramuscular injection. Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors are in consideration for passive vaccination clinical trials for HIV and influenza. However, greater human skeletal muscle transduction is needed for therapeutic efficacy than is possible with existing serotypes. To bioengineer capsids with therapeutic levels of transduction, we utilized a directed evolution approach to screen libraries of shuffled AAV capsids in pools of surgically resected human skeletal muscle cells from five patients. Six rounds of evolution were performed in various muscle cell types, and evolved variants were validated against existing muscle-tropic serotypes rAAV1, 6, and 8. We found that evolved variants NP22 and NP66 had significantly increased primary human and rhesus skeletal muscle fiber transduction from surgical explants ex vivo and in various primary and immortalized myogenic lines in vitro. Importantly, we demonstrated reduced seroreactivity compared to existing serotypes against normal human serum from 50 adult donors. These capsids represent powerful tools for human skeletal muscle expression and secretion of antibodies from passive vaccines.


September 22, 2019  |  

Advantages of genome sequencing by long-read sequencer using SMRT technology in medical area.

PacBio RS II is the first commercialized third-generation DNA sequencer able to sequence a single molecule DNA in real-time without amplification. PacBio RS II’s sequencing technology is novel and unique, enabling the direct observation of DNA synthesis by DNA polymerase. PacBio RS II confers four major advantages compared to other sequencing technologies: long read lengths, high consensus accuracy, a low degree of bias, and simultaneous capability of epigenetic characterization. These advantages surmount the obstacle of sequencing genomic regions such as high/low G+C, tandem repeat, and interspersed repeat regions. Moreover, PacBio RS II is ideal for whole genome sequencing, targeted sequencing, complex population analysis, RNA sequencing, and epigenetics characterization. With PacBio RS II, we have sequenced and analyzed the genomes of many species, from viruses to humans. Herein, we summarize and review some of our key genome sequencing projects, including full-length viral sequencing, complete bacterial genome and almost-complete plant genome assemblies, and long amplicon sequencing of a disease-associated gene region. We believe that PacBio RS II is not only an effective tool for use in the basic biological sciences but also in the medical/clinical setting.


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