Journal of virology 2017 01 1891(3) pii 10.1128/JVI.01955-16
The envelope (Env) glycoprotein of HIV is the only intact viral protein expressed on the surface of both virions and infected cells. Env is the target of neutralizing antibodies (Abs) and has been the subject of intense study in efforts to produce HIV vaccines. Therapeutic anti-Env Abs can also exert antiviral effects via Fc-mediated effector mechanisms or as cytotoxic immunoconjugates, such as immunotoxins (ITs). In the course of screening monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) for their ability to deliver cytotoxic agents to infected or Env-transfected cells, we noted disparities in their functional activities. Different MAbs showed diverse functions that did not correlate with each other. For example, MAbs against the external loop region of gp41 made the most effective ITs against infected cells but did not neutralize virus and bound only moderately to the same cells that they killed so effectively when they were used in ITs. There were also differences in IT-mediated killing among transfected and infected cell lines that were unrelated to the binding of the MAb to the target cells. Our studies of a well-characterized antigen demonstrate that MAbs against different epitopes have different functional activities and that the binding of one MAb can influence the interaction of other MAbs that bind elsewhere on the antigen. These results have implications for the use of MAbs and ITs to kill HIV-infected cells and eradicate persistent reservoirs of HIV infection.
There is increased interest in using antibodies to treat and cure HIV infection. Antibodies can neutralize free virus and kill cells already carrying the virus. The virus envelope (Env) is the only HIV protein expressed on the surfaces of virions and infected cells. In this study, we examined a panel of human anti-Env antibodies for their ability to deliver cell-killing toxins to HIV-infected cells and to perform other antiviral functions. The ability of an antibody to make an effective immunotoxin could not be predicted from its other functional characteristics, such as its neutralizing activity. Anti-HIV immunotoxins could be used to eliminate virus reservoirs that persist despite effective antiretroviral therapy.