The development of an effective vaccine against HIV-1 would be greatly facilitated by the ability to elicit potent, high affinity antibodies that are capable of broad neutralization, viral inactivation and protection against infection and/or disease. New insights into the structure and function of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) that mediates viral fusion and entry may ultimately lead to strategies successful in eliciting these protective antibody responses. Insights have been gained regarding HIV-1 Env attachment and receptor engagement, the fusion process and kinetics, and the structural/functional attributes of Env that allow humoral immune evasion. In addition, studies of a limited number of broadly neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies have shed some light as to how antibodies may penetrate the immune evading armor that HIV-1 has evolved. As the elusive goal of generating these types of antibodies emerge and are developed in the context of generating new candidate HIV-1 vaccines, a relevant in vitro measurement of neutralization by these types of antibodies becomes a complex task. This is in part due to a list of confounding variables which include: the physical and genomic nature (amino acid variation) of the infecting virion, the type of target cells, the concentration and clonality of the reactants, assay format and design, the affinity and kinetics of the reaction, receptors/coreceptors and attachment factors, and soluble host factors. This review will focus on the past, current, and future knowledge required to advance the field of HIV-1 humoral immunity as it impacts future HIV-1 vaccine development.
Keywords: hiv entry, envelope glycoprotein, cd, chemokine receptors, c-type lectins, attachment factors, neutralizing antibody, neutralization assays
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