Optimizing immunization protocols to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies
Author(s)Sprenger, Kayla G; Louveau, Joy E; Murugan, Pranav M; Chakraborty, Arup K
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© 2020 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Natural infections and vaccination with a pathogen typically stimulate the production of potent antibodies specific for the pathogen through a Darwinian evolutionary process known as affinity maturation. Such antibodies provide protection against reinfection by the same strain of a pathogen. A highly mutable virus, like HIV or influenza, evades recognition by these strain-specific antibodies via the emergence of new mutant strains. A vaccine that elicits antibodies that can bind to many diverse strains of the virus—known as broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs)—could protect against highly mutable pathogens. Despite much work, the mechanisms by which bnAbs emerge remain uncertain. Using a computational model of affinity maturation, we studied a wide variety of vaccination strategies. Our results suggest that an effective strategy to maximize bnAb evolution is through a sequential immunization protocol, wherein each new immunization optimally increases the pressure on the immune system to target conserved antigenic sites, thus conferring breadth. We describe the mechanisms underlying why sequentially driving the immune system increasingly further from steady state, in an optimal fashion, is effective. The optimal protocol allows many evolving B cells to become bnAbs via diverse evolutionary paths.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences