Current HIV vaccine induced antibody responses are known to generate virus binding antibodies, but a vaccine that generates broadly neutralizing antibodies has yet to be identified. Alternative approaches need to be developed to gain enhanced vaccine function by optimizing the effector functions of the antibodies generated. Through antibody-cell surface mucin interactions, the antibodies would facilitate trapping of HIV before it could reach and interact with underlying columnar epithelial cells, which would effectively neutralize the virus. We have identified a specific interaction between a cell-associated mucin, MUC16, and IgG. This interaction appears to be an effector function regulated during the immune response because 1) the interaction between IgG and MUC16 is increased during chronic HIV infection, 2) the MUC16 associating IgGs are enriched for binding to gp41, but not gp120, and 3) the MUC16 associating IgGs are depleted for ADCC activity. In the proposed work, we will dissect and define the interaction between MUC16 and IgG, define the ability of MUC16 to trap HIV via antibody specific interactions, and identify immune responses that are optimal for directing vaccine induced antibodies to increase MUC16-IgG interactions. Exploring the interaction of antibody-mucin interactions to enhance vaccine function represents an excellent opportunity to tune and optimize current vaccines to prevent acquisition. Importantly, MUC16 covers the columnar epithelium of the upper female reproductive tract and the digestive tract. Enhancing barrier function of these mucosal sites of HIV transmission with a vaccine induced antibody response could prove to increase the efficacy of current vaccine regimens. Knowing which type of IgG subtype(s) and glycoform(s) are involved in MUC16 association could also become an important aspect of vaccine development. For example, different adjuvants, delivery systems, and vaccination regimens could be considered for optimal mucin interacting antibody responses in small trials. This information could inform challenge studies in rhesus macaques and then eventually in a large clinical trial.

Public Health Relevance

There is a great need to develop a vaccine to decrease the rate of HIV acquisition. Current vaccines stimulate the production of antibodies that bind to HIV, but they do not inactivate the virus. Here we propose to optimize current vaccines by seeking to target antibody responses to interact with and enhance the ability of mucus to trap and clear HIV from the body; fine tuning current vaccines may represent a faster path to a successful intervention to decrease HIV/AIDS around the world.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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HIV/AIDS Vaccines Study Study Section (VACC)
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Dang, Que
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Gunn, Bronwyn; Schneider, Jeffrey; Shansab, Maryam et al. (2016) Enhanced binding of antibodies generated during chronic HIV infection to mucus component MUC16. Mucosal Immunol 9:1549-1558