Understanding the antibody response to HIV-1 in humans that show broad neutralizing serologic activity is a crucial step in trying to reproduce such responses by vaccination. Investigating antibodies with cross clade reactivity is particularly important as these antibodies may target conserved epitopes on the HIV envelope gp160 protein. To this end we have used a clade B YU-2 gp140 trimeric antigen and single-cell antibody cloning methods to obtain 189 new anti-gp140 antibodies representing 51 independent B cell clones from the IgG memory B cells of 3 patients infected with HIV-1 clade A or B viruses and exhibiting broad neutralizing serologic activity. Our results support previous findings showing a diverse antibody response to HIV gp140 envelope protein, characterized by differentially expanded B-cell clones producing highly hypermutated antibodies with heterogenous gp140-specificity and neutralizing activity. In addition to their high-affinity binding to the HIV spike, the vast majority of the new anti-gp140 antibodies are also polyreactive. Although none of the new antibodies are as broad or potent as VRC01 or PG9, two clonally-related antibodies isolated from a clade A HIV-1 infected donor, directed against the gp120 variable loop 3, rank in the top 5% of the neutralizers identified in our large collection of 185 unique gp140-specific antibodies in terms of breadth and potency.
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