The outer membrane glycoprotein gp120 and the transmembrane glycoprotein gp41 are predominant targets of the humoral immune response to infection by human immunodeficiency virus type 1. The third hypervariable region (V3 loop) is the principal neutralizing domain and is the primary target of neutralizing antibodies directed against the envelope proteins of HIV-1. The V3 loop is also the major determinant for HIV-1 cell-specific tropism. To further characterize the humoral immune response directed against the gp120 envelope proteins, we expressed two prototypic gp120 envelope proteins ( LAI HXB2 and ADA) and chimeric gp120 envelope proteins in stable transfected Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 cells. Sera from four infected adults over the course of infection [McNearney et al. (1992) Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 89, p. 10,242] were assayed for reactivity with the respective envelope proteins. Sera obtained at early stages preferentially recognized the gp120 envelope protein ADA, whereas in later stages of infection the sera showed diminished reactivity with both gp120 LAI HXB2 and gp120 ADA. Chimeric envelope proteins revealed that the humoral response was directed primarily against the V3 loop of gp120 ADA. Furthermore, 22 sera from HIV-1 infected individuals in different stages of the disease were tested. Reactivity of sera with the gp120 envelope protein ADA was seven-fold higher than with the gp120 envelope protein LAI HXB2. Our results suggest that the humoral immune response is preferentially elicited against the V3 loop of the prototypic macrophage-tropic gp120 envelope protein ADA.
- human sera
- humoral resonse