The gp41 epitope, QARVLAVERY, is highly conserved and a potent inducer of IgA that neutralizes HIV-1 and inhibits viral transcytosis
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Mucosal surfaces are the predominant site of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 transmission. For prophylactic approaches to effectively prevent HIV infection and subsequent dissemination, the induction of mucosally relevant protective immunity will be critical. Here, we have characterized the antibody (Ab) response generated by a highly conserved gp41epitope, QARVLAVERY, in an optimized immunization model that elicits potent epitope-specific Abs in the serum, vaginal washes, and fecal secretions of immunized mice. Our results show that QARVLAVERY is indeed a potent inducer of IgA and importantly, QARVLAVERY-specific IgA was effective in neutralizing HIV and inhibiting viral transcytosis. Intriguingly, QARVLAVERY also generated an approximate 1:1 ratio of IgG:IgA in the serum of immunized mice, independent of the delivery regimen and produced early systemic IgA, even before IgG. In light of the significantly high IgA induction by QARVLAVERY and the functionality of epitope-specific Abs in the inhibition of HIV infection and transcytosis, QARVLAVERY is an attractive epitope to be considered in mucosal vaccination strategies against HIV.
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