Division of Vaccine Discovery, La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI), La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (Scripps CHAVI-ID), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Conventional immunization strategies will likely be insufficient for the development of a broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) vaccine for HIV or other difficult pathogens because of the immunological hurdles posed, including B cell immunodominance and germinal center (GC) quantity and quality. We found that two independent methods of slow delivery immunization of rhesus monkeys (RMs) resulted in more robust T follicular helper (TFH) cell responses and GC B cells with improved Env-binding, tracked by longitudinal fine needle aspirates. Improved GCs correlated with the development of >20-fold higher titers of autologous nAbs. Using a new RM genomic immunoglobulin locus reference, we identified differential IgV gene use between immunization modalities. Ab mapping demonstrated targeting of immunodominant non-neutralizing epitopes by conventional bolus-immunized animals, whereas slow delivery-immunized animals targeted a more diverse set of epitopes. Thus, alternative immunization strategies can enhance nAb development by altering GCs and modulating the immunodominance of non-neutralizing epitopes.