In vitro reconstitution of B cell receptor-antigen interactions to evaluate potential vaccine candidates

Grant C. Weaver, Rina F. Villar, Masaru Kanekiyo, Gary J. Nabel, John R. Mascola, Daniel Lingwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Predicting immune responses before vaccination is challenging because of the complexity of the governing parameters. Nevertheless, recent work has shown that B cell receptor (BCR)-antigen engagement in vitro can prove a powerful means of informing the design of antibody-based vaccines. We have developed this principle into a two-phased immunogen evaluation pipeline to rank-order vaccine candidates. In phase 1, recombinant antigens are screened for reactivity to the germline precursors that produce the antibody responses of interest. To both mimic the architecture of initial antigen engagement and facilitate rapid immunogen screening, these antibodies are expressed as membrane-anchored IgM (mIgM) in 293F indicator cells. In phase 2, the binding hits are multimerized by nanoparticle or proteoliposome display, and they are evaluated for BCR triggering in an engineered B cell line displaying the IgM sequences of interest. Key developments that complement existing methodology in this area include the following: (i) introduction of a high-throughput screening step before evaluation of more time-intensive BCR-triggering analyses; (ii) generalizable multivalent antigen-display platforms needed for BCR activation; and (iii) engineered use of a human B cell line that does not display endogenous antibody, but only ectopically expressed BCR sequences of interest. Through this pipeline, the capacity to initiate favorable antibody responses is evaluated. The entire protocol can be completed within 2.5 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-213
Number of pages21
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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