Mapping the anatomy of the immunodominant domain of the human immunodeficiency virus gp41 transmembrane protein: peptide conformation analysis using monoclonal antibodies and proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
Thirty-six monoclonal antibodies from mice and three from rats were raised against a peptide corresponding to the immunodominant domain of the transmembrane gp41 protein of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 (LGLWGCSGKLIC; amino acid residues 598 to 609). Of these, three monoclonal antibodies from the mice and one from a rat also reacted with the corresponding peptide derived from the HIV type 2 transmembrane gp41 protein (amino acid residues 593 to 603; NSWGCAFRQVC). Immunochemical studies using a variety of synthetic peptides indicated that the cross-reactivity was due to antibody binding to CSGKLIC of HIV type 1 or CAFRQVC of HIV type 2. Single amino acid substitutions for a cysteine at either the amino or the carboxy end of the peptide interrupted antibody binding, indicating that the site recognized was the Cys-XXXXX-Cys loop. Similar results were obtained when the 11-mer HIV type 2 gp41 peptide (amino acids 593 to 603) was inoculated into mice to raise monoclonal antibodies. In this instance, of 30 monoclonal antibodies developed, 4 reacted with both HIV type 1 and HIV type 2 peptides. The conformation of a seven-residue peptide, CSGKLIC, corresponding to residues 603 to 609 of the gp41 immunodominant epitope of HIV-1 was investigated by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The immunologically active form of CSGKLIC contains an intramolecular disulfide bond and maintains a preference for a folded conformation, apparently including a type I reverse turn about the residues SGKL. No such preference is observed for the reduced form of the peptide, which contains two thiol groups. The presence of the disulfide bond is thus integral to the formation of the structure of the loop in solution. In agreement with this finding, elimination of the possibility of loop formation by substitution of S for C at the amino or carboxy termini of the 7-mer is accompanied by the failure of antibody binding to this peptide.