Research Article

Focused Evolution of HIV-1 Neutralizing Antibodies Revealed by Structures and Deep Sequencing

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  11 Aug 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207532


Antibody VRC01 is a human immunoglobulin that neutralizes ~90% of HIV-1 isolates. To understand how such broadly neutralizing antibodies develop, we used x-ray crystallography and 454 pyrosequencing to characterize additional VRC01-like antibodies from HIV-1–infected individuals. Crystal structures revealed a convergent mode of binding for diverse antibodies to the same CD4-binding-site epitope. A functional genomics analysis of expressed heavy and light chains revealed common pathways of antibody–heavy chain maturation, confined to the IGHV1-2*02 lineage, involving dozens of somatic changes, and capable of pairing with different light chains. Broadly neutralizing HIV-1 immunity associated with VRC01-like antibodies thus involves the evolution of antibodies to a highly affinity-matured state required to recognize an invariant viral structure, with lineages defined from thousands of sequences providing genetic roadmaps of their development.