Journal of virology 2017 08 09() pii 10.1128/JVI.00923-17
Dominant antibody responses in vaccinees who received the multiclade (A, B and C) envelope (Env) DNA/rAd5 vaccine studied in the HIV-1 vaccine trials network (HVTN) efficacy trial 505 (HVTN 505), targeted Env gp41 and cross-reacted with microbial antigens. In this study, we asked if the DNA/rAd5 vaccine induced a similar antibody response in rhesus macaques (RMs) that are commonly used as an animal model for human HIV-1 infections and for testing candidate HIV-1 vaccines. We also asked if gp41 immunodominance could be avoided by immunization of neonatal RMs during the early stages of microbial colonization. We found that the DNA/rAd5 vaccine elicited a higher frequency of gp41-reactive memory B cells compared to gp120-memory B cells in adult and neonatal RMs. Analysis of the vaccine-induced Env-reactive B cell repertoire revealed that the majority of HIV-1 Env-reactive antibodies in both adult and neonatal RMs were targeted to gp41. Interestingly, a subset of gp41-reactive antibodies isolated from RMs cross-reacted with host antigens, including autologous intestinal microbiota. Thus, gp41-containing DNA/rAd5 vaccine induced dominant gp41-microbiota cross-reactive antibodies derived from blood memory B cells in RMs as observed in the HVTN 505 efficacy trial. These data demonstrated that RMs can be used to investigate the gp41 immunodominance in candidate HIV-1 vaccines. Moreover, colonization of neonatal RMs occurred within the first week of life, and immunization of neonatal RMs during this time also induced a dominant gp41-reactive antibody response.IMPORTANCE Our results are critical to current work in the HIV-1 vaccine field evaluating the phenomenon of gp41 immunodominance induced by HIV-1 Env gp140 in RMs and humans. Our data demonstrate that RMs are an appropriate animal model to study this phenomenon and to determine the immunogenicity in new HIV-1 Env trimer vaccine designs. The demonstration of gp41 immunodominance in memory B cells of both adult and neonatal RMs indicated that early vaccination could not overcome gp41 dominant responses.