The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the causative agent of the
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and is responsible for a worldwide
epidemic with approximately 34 million infected individuals in 2009. The high
prevalence of HIV-1 underlines the urgent need of a safe and effective vaccine.
Generation of a broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb) would not only
reveal conserved epitopes within the viral envelope but also importantly, bring us a
big step closer to finding an effective AIDS-vaccine.
In the course of a vaccine study, two rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)
were challenged with SHIV-1157ipEL-p after several immunizations. Interestingly,
one of these monkeys remained aviremic, despite several challenges. Plasma from
this monkey was used in another study to isolate mimotopes (sequences mimicking
epitopes within the viral Env), located within the C-terminal tail of the viral gp41.
In this study, these mimotopes were used to isolate antigen-specific B cells
from rhesus monkeys. Single B cells were used to amplify variable regions of
rhesus monkey immunoglobulin genes to express and characterize binding
capabilities of mimotope-specific MAbs.
We were able to isolate B cells from both rhesus macaques and amplified
variable immunoglobulin genes. We successfully generated three antigen-specific
MAbs, with one of these found to be specific to GFP.