Chimpanzees infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 produce antibodies against the variable regions of the external envelope glycoprotein gp120. All five variable regions contain an epitope which is recognized by at least one of five chimpanzee sera. Each of the sera recognized a different pattern of epitopes. It is suggested that this varying response contributes to the emergence of variant viruses in the host. In contrast with the variability of the chimpanzees' response to replicating virus, that of baboons to a candidate recombinant vaccine is more uniform. Baboons injected with recombinant gp120 produced high levels of antibodies to epitopes within both the variable and conserved regions which coincided with epitopes previously shown to induce neutralizing antibodies.
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