Qi, Yifei; Jo, Sunhwan; Im, Wonpil
Roles of glycans in interactions between gp120 and HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies
GLYCOBIOLOGY, 26:251-260, MAR 2016

Many novel broadly neutralizing antibodies against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been identified during the past decade, providing promising templates for the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine. Structural studies reveal that the epitopes of some of these antibodies involve one or more crucial glycans, without which the binding is completely abolished. In this study, we have investigated the critical roles of glycans in interactions between HIV-1 gp120 and two broadly neutralizing antibodies PG9 (targeting V1/V2) and PGT128 (targeting V3) that are able to neutralize more than 70% of HIV-1 isolates. We have performed molecular dynamics simulations of a number of systems including antibody-gp120 complex with and without glycans, antibody, gp120 with and without glycans, and glycan-only systems. The simulation results show that the complex structures are stabilized by the glycans, and the multivalent interactions between the antibody and gp120 promote cooperativities to further enhance the binding. In the free gp120, the glycans increase the flexibility of the V1/V2 and V3 loops, which likely increases the entropy cost of the antibody recognition. However, the antibodies are able to bind the flexible interface by recognizing the preexisting glycan conformation, and penetrating the glycan shield with flexible complementarity determining region loops that sample the bound conformations occasionally.


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