Science (New York, N.Y.) 351(6280) 1458-63 doi 10.1126/science.aad9195
Induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a major HIV vaccine goal. Germline-targeting immunogens aim to initiate bnAb induction by activating bnAb germline precursor B cells. Critical unmet challenges are to determine whether bnAb precursor naïve B cells bind germline-targeting immunogens and occur at sufficient frequency in humans for reliable vaccine responses. Using deep mutational scanning and multitarget optimization, we developed a germline-targeting immunogen (eOD-GT8) for diverse VRC01-class bnAbs. We then used the immunogen to isolate VRC01-class precursor naïve B cells from HIV-uninfected donors. Frequencies of true VRC01-class precursors, their structures, and their eOD-GT8 affinities support this immunogen as a candidate human vaccine prime. These methods could be applied to germline targeting for other classes of HIV bnAbs and for Abs to other pathogens.