Defining rules governing recognition and Fc-mediated effector functions to the HIV-1 co-receptor binding site

William D. Tolbert, Rebekah Sherburn, Neelakshi Gohain, Shilei Ding, Robin Flinko, Chiara Orlandi, Krishanu Ray, Andrés Finzi, George K. Lewis, Marzena Pazgier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: The binding of HIV-1 Envelope glycoproteins (Env) to host receptor CD4 exposes vulnerable conserved epitopes within the co-receptor binding site (CoRBS) which are required for the engagement of either CCR5 or CXCR4 co-receptor to allow HIV-1 entry. Antibodies against this region have been implicated in the protection against HIV acquisition in non-human primate (NHP) challenge studies and found to act synergistically with antibodies of other specificities to deliver effective Fc-mediated effector function against HIV-1-infected cells. Here, we describe the structure and function of N12-i2, an antibody isolated from an HIV-1-infected individual, and show how the unique structural features of this antibody allow for its effective Env recognition and Fc-mediated effector function. Results: N12-i2 binds within the CoRBS utilizing two adjacent sulfo-tyrosines (TYS) for binding, one of which binds to a previously unknown TYS binding pocket formed by gp120 residues of high sequence conservation among HIV-1 strains. Structural alignment with gp120 in complex with the co-receptor CCR5 indicates that the new pocket corresponds to TYS at position 15 of CCR5. In addition, structure-function analysis of N12-i2 and other CoRBS-specific antibodies indicates a link between modes of antibody binding within the CoRBS and Fc-mediated effector activities. The efficiency of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) correlated with both the level of antibody binding and the mode of antibody attachment to the epitope region, specifically with the way the Fc region was oriented relative to the target cell surface. Antibodies with poor Fc access mediated the poorest ADCC whereas those with their Fc region readily accessible for interaction with effector cells mediated the most potent ADCC. Conclusion: Our data identify a previously unknown binding site for TYS within the assembled CoRBS of the HIV-1 virus. In addition, our combined structural-modeling-functional analyses provide new insights into mechanisms of Fc-effector function of antibodies against HIV-1, in particular, how antibody binding to Env antigen affects the efficiency of ADCC response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
JournalBMC Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ADCC
  • Co-receptor binding site
  • Env
  • HIV-1
  • N12-i2


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