Confronting the hypervariability of an immunodominant epitope eliciting virus neutralizing antibodies from the envelope glycoprotein of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (Hiv-1) II. Synthetic peptides linked to Hiv-1 carrier proteins gag and nef

Neurath, A.R.; Strick, N.; Kolbe, H.; Kieny, M.P.; Girard, M.; Jiang, S.

Molecular Immunology 28(9): 965-973


ISSN/ISBN: 0161-5890
DOI: 10.1016/0161-5890(91)90182-j
Accession: 070329677

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Combining of subtype specific peptides from the hypervariable loop of the envelope glycoprotein gp120 of divergent HIV-1 isolates may help in designing a broadly protective immunogen against HIV-1 infection. To enhance the immunogenicity of such a polyvalent antigen, in the absence of oil-containing adjuvants, it is necessary to link the peptides to a protein carrier. It is preferable to use as carriers those proteins from HIV-1 itself which may contribute to eliciting protective immunity. The structural and non-structural proteins, gag P18 and nef, respectively, which can be prepared in high yields by recombinant DNA techniques in Escherichia coli, were selected for this purpose. The corresponding peptide-protein conjugates, each containing 21 distinct peptides, were prepared using the cross-linking reagents N-succinimidyl-3-(2-pyridyldithio)-propionate (SPDP) or m-maleimidobenzoyl-N-hydroxysulfosuccinimide ester (sulfo-MBS). Conjugates prepared by the second method elicited approximately 10-100 times higher levels of antibodies recognizing the homologous peptides and the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins. The sulfo-MBS conjugation procedure preserved the antigenicity of both gag P18 and nef and the respective conjugates elicited an immune response to these proteins. Despite the low immunization dose of single peptides (10 micrograms) present in the mixture of peptides collectively linked to the carriers, antibody responses to most of the individual peptides were high (dilution endpoints 1: greater than 16,000, 1: greater than 80,000 for the nef and gag P18 conjugates, respectively). Conjugates consisting of a multitude of HIV-1 envelope-derived peptides in combination with gag P18 and nef carriers are expected to elicit broadly protective immunity against distinct HIV-1 subtypes.