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Title: Fine structure of the HIV-1 glycan shield
Author: Behrens, Anna-Janina
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 9831
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimer (Env) is covered by an extensive array of glycans that shield it from immune surveillance. The high density of glycans on the trimer surface imposes steric constraints that limit the actions of glycan processing enzymes, such that multiple under-processed structures remain on specific locations. These oligomannose-type glycans are recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) that are not thwarted by the glycan shield but, perhaps paradoxically, target it. In multiple studies, bNAbs have been shown to be capable of providing passive protection from viral challenge, making Env a focus of antibody-mediated vaccine design. Here, the development of a workflow for the semi-quantitative, site-specific N-glycosylation analysis of a soluble recombinant, native-like trimer mimic (BG505 SOSIP.664) is reported. The resulting data reveal a mosaic of dense clusters on the outer domain of Env and allow mapping the extremes of simplicity and diversity of glycan processing. Although individual sites usually minimally affect the global integrity of the glycan shield, examples are identified of how deleting certain glycans can subtly influence neutralization by bNAbs that bind at distant sites. Env is a trimer of heterodimers of gp120 and gp41, which is generated by cleavage of an endogenous protease. In this thesis, the detailed effect of protease cleavage on glycan processing is examined by comparing the site-specific N-glycosylation profiles of the native-like trimer mimic to the corresponding uncleaved pseudotrimer and the matched gp120 monomer. Trimer-associated glycan remodeling forms a localized subdomain of the native mannose patch. Furthermore, the glycosylation analysis of further Env immunogens – a glycan-depleted trimer and a flexibly-linked, uncleaved trimer (both based on BG505 SOSIP.664) – provides important insights into the robustness of the HIV-1 glycan shield and the Env maturation pathway. Overall, this thesis reveals how structural constraints shape Env glycosylation and the network of bNAb-targeted glycans that should be preserved on recombinant vaccine candidates.
Supervisor: Zitzmann, Nicole ; Crispin, Max Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HIV-1 glycosylation analysis ; mass spectrometry ; HIV ; N-glycosylation ; Vaccine design ; glycobiology