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Designed proteins assemble antibodies into modular nanocages


2021 David Baker; Andrew McGuire; Leah Homad; Madeleine Jennewein; Leonidas Stamatatos; Julie Mathieu; Hannele Ruohola-Baker; Yu-Hsin Wan

Multivalent display of receptor-engaging antibodies or ligands can enhance their activity. Instead of achieving multivalency by attachment to preexisting scaffolds, here we unite form and function by the computational design of nanocages in which one structural component is an antibody or Fc-ligand fusion and the second is a designed antibody-binding homo-oligomer that drives nanocage assembly. Structures of eight nanocages determined by electron microscopy spanning dihedral, tetrahedral, octahedral, and icosahedral architectures with 2, 6, 12, and 30 antibodies per nanocage, respectively, closely match the corresponding computational models. Antibody nanocages targeting cell surface receptors enhance signaling compared with free antibodies or Fc-fusions in death receptor 5 (DR5)-mediated apoptosis, angiopoietin-1 receptor (Tie2)-mediated angiogenesis, CD40 activation, and T cell proliferation. Nanocage assembly also increases severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pseudovirus neutralization by α-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies and Fc-angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) fusion proteins.

mRNA vaccination boosts cross-variant neutralizing antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection


2021 Julie Czartoski; Julie McElrath; Andrew McGuire; Felicity Moodie; Kristen Cohen; Stephen DeRosa; Madeleine Jennewein; Blazej Neradilek; Vanessa Rubin; Junli Feng; Leah Homad; Maria Lemos; Emilie Seydoux; Leonidas Stamatatos; Anna MacCamy; Gregory Mize; Yu-Hsin Wan

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants have raised concerns about resistance to neutralizing antibodies elicited by previous infection or vaccination. We examined whether sera from recovered and naïve donors collected prior to, and following immunizations with existing mRNA vaccines, could neutralize the Wuhan-Hu-1 and B.1.351 variants. Pre-vaccination sera from recovered donors neutralized Wuhan-Hu-1 and sporadically neutralized B.1.351, but a single immunization boosted neutralizing titers against all variants and SARS-CoV-1 by up to 1000-fold. Neutralization was due to antibodies targeting the receptor binding domain and was not boosted by a second immunization. Immunization of naïve donors also elicited cross-neutralizing responses, but at lower titers. Our study highlights the importance of vaccinating both uninfected and previously infected persons to elicit cross-variant neutralizing antibodies.

Vaccine Efficacy of ALVAC-HIV and Bivalent Subtype C gp120-MF59 in Adults

N Engl J Med

2021 James Kublin; Mpho Sikhosana; Glenda Gray; Douglas Grove; John Hural; Larry Corey; Nicole Grunenberg; G Bentley; Julie McElrath; Megan Ramirez; Felicity Moodie; Brittany Prigmore; Megan Jones; Michelle Ramirez; Peter Gilbert; Holly Janes; Jia Jin Kee; Simbarashe Takuva; Michele Andrasik; Yunda Huang

BACKGROUND: A safe, effective vaccine is essential to eradicating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. A canarypox-protein HIV vaccine regimen (ALVAC-HIV plus AIDSVAX B/E) showed modest efficacy in reducing infection in Thailand. An analogous regimen using HIV-1 subtype C virus showed potent humoral and cellular responses in a phase 1-2a trial in South Africa. Efficacy data and additional safety data were needed for this regimen in a larger population in South Africa. METHODS: In this phase 2b-3 trial, we randomly assigned 5404 adults without HIV-1 infection to receive the vaccine (2704 participants) or placebo (2700 participants). The vaccine regimen consisted of injections of ALVAC-HIV at months 0 and 1, followed by four booster injections of ALVAC-HIV plus bivalent subtype C gp120-MF59 adjuvant at months 3, 6, 12, and 18. The primary efficacy outcome was the occurrence of HIV-1 infection from randomization to 24 months. RESULTS: In January 2020, prespecified criteria for nonefficacy were met at an interim analysis; further vaccinations were subsequently halted. The median age of the trial participants was 24 years; 70% of the participants were women. The incidence of adverse events was similar in the vaccine and placebo groups. During the 24-month follow-up, HIV-1 infection was diagnosed in 138 participants in the vaccine group and in 133 in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 1.02; 95% confidence interval, 0.81 to 1.30; P=0.84). CONCLUSIONS: The ALVAC-gp120 regimen did not prevent HIV-1 infection among participants in South Africa despite previous evidence of immunogenicity. (HVTN 702 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02968849.).

Innate immune signatures to a partially-efficacious HIV vaccine predict correlates of HIV-1 infection risk

PLoS Pathog

2021 Anneta Naidoo; Andrew Fiore-Gartland; Lamar Fleming; Julie McElrath; Lindsay Carpp; James Kublin; Valentin Voillet; Nicole Grunenberg; Ying Huang; Erica Andersen-Nissen; Peter Gilbert

The pox-protein regimen tested in the RV144 trial is the only vaccine strategy demonstrated to prevent HIV-1 infection. Subsequent analyses identified antibody and cellular immune responses as correlates of risk (CoRs) for HIV infection. Early predictors of these CoRs could provide insight into vaccine-induced protection and guide efforts to enhance vaccine efficacy. Using specimens from a phase 1b trial of the RV144 regimen in HIV-1-uninfected South Africans (HVTN 097), we profiled innate responses to the first ALVAC-HIV immunization. PBMC transcriptional responses peaked 1 day post-vaccination. Type I and II interferon signaling pathways were activated, as were innate pathways critical for adaptive immune priming. We then identified two innate immune transcriptional signatures strongly associated with adaptive immune CoR after completion of the 4-dose regimen. Day 1 signatures were positively associated with antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and phagocytosis activity at Month 6.5. Conversely, a signature present on Days 3 and 7 was inversely associated with Env-specific CD4+ T cell responses at Months 6.5 and 12; rapid resolution of this signature was associated with higher Env-specific CD4+ T-cell responses. These are the first-reported early immune biomarkers of vaccine-induced responses associated with HIV-1 acquisition risk in humans and suggest hypotheses to improve HIV-1 vaccine regimens.

A human monoclonal antibody blocks malaria transmission and defines a highly conserved neutralizing epitope on gametes

Nat Commun

2021 Justin Taylor

Malaria elimination requires tools that interrupt parasite transmission. Here, we characterize B cell receptor responses among Malian adults vaccinated against the first domain of the cysteine-rich 230 kDa gamete surface protein Pfs230, a key protein in sexual stage development of P. falciparum parasites. Among nine Pfs230 human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that we generated, one potently blocks transmission to mosquitoes in a complement-dependent manner and reacts to the gamete surface; the other eight show only low or no blocking activity. The structure of the transmission-blocking mAb in complex with vaccine antigen reveals a large discontinuous conformational epitope, specific to domain 1 of Pfs230 and comprising six structural elements in the protein. The epitope is conserved, suggesting the transmission-blocking mAb is broadly functional. This study provides a rational basis to improve malaria vaccines and develop therapeutic antibodies for malaria elimination.

Two Randomized Trials of Neutralizing Antibodies to Prevent HIV-1 Acquisition

N Engl J Med

2021 Deborah Donnell; G Bentley; Kyle Marshall; Simbarashe Takuva; Peter Gilbert; John Hural; Nidhi Kochar; James Kublin; April Randhawa; Yunda Huang; Michelle Karuna; Allan DeCamp; Glenda Gray; Michal Juraska; Larry Corey; Nicole Espy; Julie McElrath; Erika Rudnicki

BACKGROUND: Whether a broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) can be used to prevent human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) acquisition is unclear. METHODS: We enrolled at-risk cisgender men and transgender persons in the Americas and Europe in the HVTN 704/HPTN 085 trial and at-risk women in sub-Saharan Africa in the HVTN 703/HPTN 081 trial. Participants were randomly assigned to receive, every 8 weeks, infusions of a bnAb (VRC01) at a dose of either 10 or 30 mg per kilogram (low-dose group and high-dose group, respectively) or placebo, for 10 infusions in total. HIV-1 testing was performed every 4 weeks. The VRC01 80% inhibitory concentration (IC80) of acquired isolates was measured with the TZM-bl assay. RESULTS: Adverse events were similar in number and severity among the treatment groups within each trial. Among the 2699 participants in HVTN 704/HPTN 085, HIV-1 infection occurred in 32 in the low-dose group, 28 in the high-dose group, and 38 in the placebo group. Among the 1924 participants in HVTN 703/HPTN 081, infection occurred in 28 in the low-dose group, 19 in the high-dose group, and 29 in the placebo group. The incidence of HIV-1 infection per 100 person-years in HVTN 704/HPTN 085 was 2.35 in the pooled VRC01 groups and 2.98 in the placebo group (estimated prevention efficacy, 26.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI], -11.7 to 51.8; P=0.15), and the incidence per 100 person-years in HVTN 703/HPTN 081 was 2.49 in the pooled VRC01 groups and 3.10 in the placebo group (estimated prevention efficacy, 8.8%; 95% CI, -45.1 to 42.6; P=0.70). In prespecified analyses pooling data across the trials, the incidence of infection with VRC01-sensitive isolates (IC80 <1 g per milliliter) per 100 person-years was 0.20 among VRC01 recipients and 0.86 among placebo recipients (estimated prevention efficacy, 75.4%; 95% CI, 45.5 to 88.9). The prevention efficacy against sensitive isolates was similar for each VRC01 dose and trial; VRC01 did not prevent acquisition of other HIV-1 isolates. CONCLUSIONS: VRC01 did not prevent overall HIV-1 acquisition more effectively than placebo, but analyses of VRC01-sensitive HIV-1 isolates provided proof-of-concept that bnAb prophylaxis can be effective. (Supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; HVTN 704/HPTN 085 and HVTN 703/HPTN 081 ClinicalTrials.gov numbers, NCT02716675 and NCT02568215.).

Impact of the menstrual cycle and ethinyl estradiol/etonogestrel contraceptive vaginal ring on granulysin and other mucosal immune mediators

Am J Reprod Immunol

2021 Florian Hladik; Christine Johnston

PROBLEM: Changes in sex hormones during the menstrual cycle and contraceptive vaginal ring (CVR) use influence immunity within the female genital tract, but the magnitude of these effects and their anatomical location are unclear. METHOD OF STUDY: In a prospective study, 29 women were assessed at three time points: follicular phase, luteal phase, and one month after initiation of the ethinyl estradiol/etonogestrel CVR (NuvaRing, Merck). We performed microarrays on endocervical cytobrushes and measured immune mediators in cervicovaginal fluid, adjusting for bacterial vaginosis and presence of blood. We compared these results to public gene expression data from the fallopian tubes, endometrium, endo- and ectocervix, and vagina. RESULTS: Immune-related gene expression in the endocervix and immune mediators in cervicovaginal fluid increased during CVR use versus both menstrual phases, and in the follicular versus luteal phase. The antimicrobial protein granulysin was high during CVR use, intermediate in the follicular phase, and nearly absent from the luteal phase. Re-analysis of public gene expression data confirmed increased immune-related gene expression in the endocervix during the follicular phase. However, in the fallopian tube, endometrium and vagina, the follicular phase showed immunosuppression. CONCLUSIONS: Immune-related genes in the cervicovaginal tract were highest during CVR use, intermediate in the follicular phase, and lowest in the luteal phase. Granulysin is a potential biomarker of menstrual phase: frequently detected in follicular samples, but rare in luteal. Lastly, immunological differences between the follicular and luteal phases vary throughout the female genital tract.

The Ugly Duckling Turned to Swan: A Change in Perception of Bystander-Activated Memory CD8 T Cells

J Immunol

2021 Alexis Taber; Nicholas Maurice; Martin Prlic

Memory T cells (Tmem) rapidly mount Ag-specific responses during pathogen reencounter. However, Tmem also respond to inflammatory cues in the absence of an activating TCR signal, a phenomenon termed bystander activation. Although bystander activation was first described over 20 years ago, the physiological relevance and the consequences of T cell bystander activation have only become more evident in recent years. In this review, we discuss the scenarios that trigger CD8 Tmem bystander activation including acute and chronic infections that are either systemic or localized, as well as evidence for bystander CD8 Tmem within tumors and following vaccination. We summarize the possible consequences of bystander activation for the T cell itself, the subsequent immune response, and the host. We highlight when T cell bystander activation appears to benefit or harm the host and briefly discuss our current knowledge gaps regarding regulatory signals that can control bystander activation.

Baseline T cell immune phenotypes predict virologic and disease control upon SARS-CoV infection in Collaborative Cross mice

PLoS Pathog

2021 Jennifer Lund; Jessica Graham; Jessica Swarts

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that infection with SARS-CoV-2 can result in a wide range of clinical outcomes in humans. An incomplete understanding of immune correlates of protection represents a major barrier to the design of vaccines and therapeutic approaches to prevent infection or limit disease. This deficit is largely due to the lack of prospectively collected, pre-infection samples from indiviuals that go on to become infected with SARS-CoV-2. Here, we utilized data from genetically diverse Collaborative Cross (CC) mice infected with SARS-CoV to determine whether baseline T cell signatures are associated with a lack of viral control and severe disease upon infection. SARS-CoV infection of CC mice results in a variety of viral load trajectories and disease outcomes. Overall, a dysregulated, pro-inflammatory signature of circulating T cells at baseline was associated with severe disease upon infection. Our study serves as proof of concept that circulating T cell signatures at baseline can predict clinical and virologic outcomes upon SARS-CoV infection. Identification of basal immune predictors in humans could allow for identification of individuals at highest risk of severe clinical and virologic outcomes upon infection, who may thus most benefit from available clinical interventions to restrict infection and disease.

Interim Results of a Phase 1-2a Trial of Ad26.COV2.S Covid-19 Vaccine

N Engl J Med

2021 Stephen DeRosa; Julie McElrath; Kristen Cohen

BACKGROUND: Efficacious vaccines are urgently needed to contain the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). A candidate vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S, is a recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26) vector encoding a full-length and stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. METHODS: In this multicenter, placebo-controlled, phase 1-2a trial, we randomly assigned healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55 years (cohort 1) and those 65 years of age or older (cohort 3) to receive the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine at a dose of 51010 viral particles (low dose) or 11011 viral particles (high dose) per milliliter or placebo in a single-dose or two-dose schedule. Longer-term data comparing a single-dose regimen with a two-dose regimen are being collected in cohort 2; those results are not reported here. The primary end points were the safety and reactogenicity of each dose schedule. RESULTS: After the administration of the first vaccine dose in 805 participants in cohorts 1 and 3 and after the second dose in cohort 1, the most frequent solicited adverse events were fatigue, headache, myalgia, and injection-site pain. The most frequent systemic adverse event was fever. Systemic adverse events were less common in cohort 3 than in cohort 1 and in those who received the low vaccine dose than in those who received the high dose. Reactogenicity was lower after the second dose. Neutralizing-antibody titers against wild-type virus were detected in 90% or more of all participants on day 29 after the first vaccine dose (geometric mean titer [GMT], 224 to 354) and reached 100% by day 57 with a further increase in titers (GMT, 288 to 488), regardless of vaccine dose or age group. Titers remained stable until at least day 71. A second dose provided an increase in the titer by a factor of 2.6 to 2.9 (GMT, 827 to 1266). Spike-binding antibody responses were similar to neutralizing-antibody responses. On day 14, CD4+ T-cell responses were detected in 76 to 83% of the participants in cohort 1 and in 60 to 67% of those in cohort 3, with a clear skewing toward type 1 helper T cells. CD8+ T-cell responses were robust overall but lower in cohort 3. CONCLUSIONS: The safety and immunogenicity profiles of Ad26.COV2.S support further development of this vaccine candidate. (Funded by Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the Department of Health and Human Services; COV1001 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04436276.).