HIV-1 envelope (Env) probes are key to the isolation of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) and the HIV-1 bnAbs are particularly useful to inform and guide Env immunogen design. As current probes and methods have limitations that hinder efficient bnAb isolation from large numbers of individuals, we propose to develop novel VSV-based probes to display dense HIV-1 Env trimers on the surface to isolate bnAbs. We hypothesize that properly constructed gp140.VSV probes provide a powerful tool for bnAb isolation and allow efficient identification of bnAbs from a large number (n>50) of clade-B and non-B clade infected individuals, some with undefined novel epitopes. To test this hypothesis, we collaborate with Dr. Andres Finzi to study samples from a clade-B infected cohort based in Montreal, Canada, and with Dr. Phillipe Nyambi to study samples from a multi-clade infected cohort based in Yaounde, Cameroon. We have screened 111 Montreal and 260 Cameroon plasmas and identified 32 and 13 donors with bnAb activity, respectively. We propose to 1) construct, characterize, and optimize gp140.VSV probes for various clade-B and non-B Envs, 2) apply gp140.VSV probes to isolate bnAbs from >50 clade-B and non-B clade infected broad neutralizers, and 3) determine the epitopes of newly isolated bnAbs and define new bnAb genetic compositions. In pilot experiments, we generated a gp140.VSV probe displaying the HIV-1 AD17 Env trimer on the surface; using this probe, we recovered two distinct and novel bnAbs from a clade-B infected Montreal donor. This preliminary result supports our hypothesis and provides a proof-of-concept that the gp140.VSV probe can lead to the isolation of novel bnAbs. We anticipate that >50 new bnAbs will be identified by this probing method and some of them will define new Env targets and bnAb genetic compositions. The addition of these bnAbs will complement others to expand the bnAb repertoire and advance our understanding of the bnAb epitopes and genetic compositions, thus facilitating Env immunogen design and post-immunization analysis.

Public Health Relevance

Efficient isolation of HIV-1-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is critical to guide and inform vaccine development to induce bnAbs. This proposal seeks to optimize and apply VSV-based probes with the HIV-1 Env trimers displayed on the particle surface to isolate a broad range of bnAbs from a total of ~50 clade-B and non-B clade infected individuals. The newly isolated bnAbs will be a significant addition to the current bnAb repertoire to facilitate the Env immunogen design and post-immunization analysis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
HIV/AIDS Vaccines Study Section (VACC)
Program Officer
Singh, Anjali
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center
New York
United States
Zip Code